written by
Jag Kakarlapudi

Is Google G Suite catching up to Microsoft Office 365?

Information Management System 7 min read , August 30, 2018

I have been following the Google G Suite (previously known as Google Apps for Work) for quite some time now and always brushed it aside as the tool set was lagging in features and integration with other workplace software tools. I have even used Google Apps for Works for one of my previous projects a long time ago just to host business email as Gmail been the bread and butter of the platform. And I got it for free!! 😉

With the recent feature updates, Let’s find out if Google' G Suite catching up to Office 365 and has a solid offering for businesses of all sizes? There have been many articles written about 'Office 365 vs G Suite' in the past. In the article, I am not going to do a feature comparison between Office 365 and G Suite and tell you which is the best tool for your workplace needs. I will do that in a future video series comparing each G Suite tool individually with the relevant Office 365 application. In this article, I want to present my initial thoughts on the latest advances in the G Suite offering and find out if it is a solid contender in the Content Services (aka Enterprise Content Management) space for businesses.

Let's talk numbers!

Microsoft Office 365 has the biggest piece of the pie as Google G Suite is slow to market in the content services space. Here are some numbers highlighting the uptake of Microsoft Office 365 services. Office 365 had an amazing run so far! 

According to Windows Central, back in 2016, Microsoft has revealed that there were 60 million monthly active Office 365 commercial customers and that it has seen 50,000 small business customers added to Office 365 each month. It has also seen 340 million downloads of its Office Mobile apps, compared to 100 million downloads six months ago. According to the latest reports, the total number of monthly active Office 365 commercial customers is at 120 million in October 2017. As you see, the user base for Office 365 commercial applications has doubled in just two years. That is a massive increase in adoption of Office 365 by businesses across the globe!

Comparatively, according to a report by TechRadar on Feb 2018, G Suite now has four million paying customers, and Google’s cloud business is already raking in a billion dollars per quarter. Also, Reuters has reported that just 15 companies listed in the S&P 500 currently have Google’s business tools. Its $1.3 billion in Google G Suite sales ranked a distant No. 2 behind Office’s $13.8 billion, according to 2016 data from Gartner.

It should be noted that some large organisation such as Verizon Communications Inc, Salesforce, Airbus, PWC, Nielsen Holdings Plc and Colgate-Palmolive Co have already jumped ship to Google G Suite! As Google brings much needed rehaul to the G Suite platform, we will see many more large organisations embrace it. Also, the major strength of G Suite is small and medium businesses starting out in the cloud.

What do analyst firms think about Google G Suite?

Based on the Forrester's Total Economic Impact (TEI) study,

A composite B2B (Business to Business) organisation with 10,000 users and $4 billion in annual revenue, using G Suite can achieve: 

  • 304% Return On Investment (ROI)
  • $8 million in collaboration efficiencies by saving employees up to two hours per week
  • $9 million in mobility benefits and legacy IT cost savings  

The TEI study by Forrester is conducted in 2015 and has only considered a subset of G Suite applications such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Calendar and Sites. Since then, G Suite offering has grown leaps and bounds by adding new applications such as App Maker, Keep, Cloud Search, Vault and enhancing the existing applications with Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. With all these latest updates and enhanced security, I can only see G Suite achieving far better efficiencies in the coming years.

If you want to learn more about the Forrester's TEI study of G Suite, check out this link. https://gsuite.google.com.au/intl/en_au/learn-more/forrester-tei-report-2015.html 

Based on the similar TEI study conduct by Forrester in 2015 (same year as the G Suite Study above) achieved the following benefits for Microsoft Office 365 customers.

  • Organisations have cut down the need for new infrastructure hardware and saving on Windows Server licenses at the same time.
  • The implementation effort was 45% less than for a comparable on-premises solution using SharePoint, Exchange, and Microsoft Office 2013. 
  • Mobile users are able to save at least 1 hour per day.
  • Decision-makers make faster, better decisions because of more timely access to information available through Power BI. G Suite still does not have a good standalone business analytics application which competes with Power BI. The new AI capabilities to Google Sheets using the Explore functionality makes it’s a good competitor to Power BI.  

I encourage you to check out the TEI Office 365 report for more information. https://resources.office.com/ww-landing-forrester-tei-o365-report.html

According to Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant,

Google is named a Leader in the Content Collaboration Platforms (CCP) space along with Microsoft and Box. 

CCP include Content Services and Productivity core factors such as:

  •  Mobility
  •  Simplicity and usability
  •  File manipulation
  •  User Productivity
  •  Collaboration
  •  Content Management
  •  Workflow
  •  Analytics
  •  Security and Data Protection
  •  Data Governance
  •  Administration and management
  •  Integration
  •  Storage

Seeing G Suite achieve Leader status in the CCP space with the above core pillars is very exciting for me as an ECM Practitioner.  

According to the Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant report the strengths and weaknesses of Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are illustrated as: 

Strengths of G Suite:

  • Google is putting in a lot of emphasis in this space and targeting small to large enterprises.
  • Intelligent Google Drive with Machine Learning and Natural Language for content classification.
  • Simplicity and intuitive user experience.
  • Rich API platform to support integration

Weaknesses of G Suite:  

  • Google Drive is completely in the cloud and does not support hybrid storage models.
  • Does not support data sovereignty and residency. It should be noted the Data Regions for G Suite has been recently launched in a limited capability.
  • Lack of native connectors to enterprise content repositories and applications.
  • Lack of inbuilt turnkey business solutions.

Strengths of Microsoft Office 365:

  • Better integration with content repositories either on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Support for data sovereignty, residence and privacy regulations.
  • Easy and Efficiency - Users has a smaller learning curve as they are quite used to Microsoft Office suite.

Weaknesses of Microsoft Office 365:

  • Lack of native connectors to enterprise content repositories and applications.
  • Limited reporting capabilities
  • Mismatch of offerings between the client (offline) and web (online) applications cause confusion and drop in adoption.
  • Lack of inbuilt turnkey business solutions.

Based on the Gartner's 2017 Magic quadrant strengths and cautions, we can say that G Suite is definitely catching up in the CCP space. If you are interested to know more about the Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant report, check out this link.


Let's Summarise

It is noticeably clear from the recent keynote at #GoogleNext18 by Prabhakar Raghavan, VP of G Suite, that Google is betting big on Simple, Smarter and Secure workplace collaboration platform backed by Google's Artificial Intelligence and Robust intelligent Search capabilities. This is this something not to be taken lightly by other vendors such as Microsoft Office 365 who have been enjoying the first mover advantage so far. Microsoft is currently dominating the $15-billion market for business productivity tools for a reason: Its longstanding product is reliable and IT managers have little incentive to gamble on something new. This will be a saviour for the Microsoft Office 365 as many businesses do not like to embrace drastic change, especially with workplace productivity platforms. 

Having a competitor such as Google G Suite is the best thing that can happen to Microsoft Office 365 as it needs to reinvent itself to stay ahead of the game. Finally, I think G Suite is definitely catching-up to Office 365 by providing a good alternative. But Microsoft needs to see this an opportunity and provide better offering by leveraging its already large user base.

I am very much excited to be working this space and the future is looking very promising! Going forward, I will be keeping a close eye on G Suite and skill up my expertise in this platform along with Microsoft Office 365.


Reuters - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-gsuite/googles-g-suite-is-no-microsoft-killer-but-still-winning-converts-idUSKBN1FL3ZX

TechRadar - https://www.techradar.com/au/news/g-suite-is-powering-ahead-with-4-million-customers

Windows Central - https://www.windowscentral.com/there-are-now-12-billion-office-users-60-million-office-365-commercial-customers

Office 365 Google G Suite