Google is aiming directly at Microsoft Office 365 with its latest product, G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work). Earlier this year, Google announced a milestone in the number of businesses that use G Suite:
“G Suite achieved a significant new customer milestone last quarter,” he said. “More than 3 million paying businesses are now using G Suite to collaborate smartly and securely in the cloud.”
— Sundar Pinchai, CEO, Google
How did G Suite acquire another one million businesses in two years? Pinchai says that Google’s highly secure cloud email hosting is what attracted so many new businesses. Even so, it seems that G Suite growth is still an uphill battle as it attempts to gain market share.
G Suite has a lot to offer, so what’s holding it back?
We’ll take a look at what Google gets right with G Suite and where it’s coming up a bit short. At the end, we’ll offer some guidance to help you decide if Google’s G Suite is a good fit for your business.
Who is Google Apps Designed For?
The former incarnation of G Suite offered productivity apps that competed directly with Microsoft Office Live.
Recently, Google renamed it G Suite as Google continues to build its enterprise customer base. The core apps remain the same, and mostly compare directly with similar offerings in Microsoft 365:
|Microsoft Forms||Google Forms|
The core apps remain the same and mostly compare directly with similar offerings in Microsoft 35.
Each of the applications works very well and can share data between each other they really only offer a subset of what users can do using the full desktop apps from Microsoft. So if you are an extreme power user and are familiar with the Microsoft suite of applications you may find yourself limited by the G Suite tools.
That being said, we use G Suite here at the office and it seems to be the choice of a younger audience that is comfortable with not only the Gmail interface for email but also a web first approach to collaboration.
We are also huge fans of how well G Suite and all of the productivity tools plug into our Android phones. It almost seems like the phone is the best way to really experience the productivity boost by being web first in their approach.
If you have ever seen someone struggle with a Word doc attachment that needs a quick revision before the door to the plan close, you’ll understand why Google really understands phones and productivity.
We like the straightforward pricing, but there have definitely been issues with sharing, finding and retrieving documents – but it looks like G Suite is actively in the process of addressing these limitations with new releases.
G Suite Options
Google’s G Suite is available in varieties that target different users:
- G Suite Basic — Provides the core apps plus business email, shared calendars, and video meetings.
- G Suite Business — Provides core apps, plus unlimited storage of Gmail messages, Google Photos, and files in Google Drive. 1TB storage limit for four or fewer users.
- This edition also seems to have an enhanced search that would be beneficial for companies with a lot of documents.
- It also includes Email Archiving and eDiscovery – but these are limited when compared with third party solutions.
- G Suite Enterprise — Provides G Suite business apps and features, plus enhanced security, controls, and customization.
- For $25 per month, you get everything including S/MIME support and interestingly enough the ability to easily integrate third party email archiving. This is noticeably absent in previous editions.
- G Suite for Education — Provides the apps and features available in G Suite Business for free to non-profit educational institutions at a far reduced cost.
Where G Suite Wins versus Office 365
- Pricing — Unlike Office 365, G Suite has simple, two-tiered pricing.
- New features and capabilities it recently rolled out to improve collaboration, productivity, and security.
New G Suite Features and Capabilities
Developed to belong to teams of collaborators rather than a single person, Google Team Drives facilitate collaboration through its cross-device ability to access, store, and search their files from any location.
Admin controls allow administrators to manage Team Drives membership, user access, file sharing permissions, and Team Drive activity. You can also migrate content into a Team Drive.
Very similar to the way that Dropbox provides with its Smart Sync feature, Quick Access allows you to spend less time looking for the correct document. Cayden Meyer, Product Manager at Google, says that Quick Access cuts the time it takes to find the right file by 50%.
It aims to eliminate searching for a file altogether with machine learning that uses your Drive activity to predict which files you are most likely to need next.
This feature is Google’s response to an organization’s need for legal compliance and eDiscovery.
It works in Google Drive, Team Drive, and Google Groups by providing tools that allow easy management of rules for data retention, compliance with requests for information, and legal holds.
Drive Stream eliminates the need to download files from your Drive onto your desktop by streaming them instead.
It works by making Drive files searchable from the device you’re using without storing them locally on your hard drive.
A big advantage to this is that an employee can’t accidentally delete company files from Drive Stream. Users who use Drive Stream while traveling may be less enamored of it since WiFi and other connectivity issues can have a significant impact on performance.
A big deal is that all of your company data can be accessed directly from your laptop, even if you don’t have much space left on your hard drive. A huge benefit over the competitors.
Meet by Google Hangouts
Earlier this year, Google launched its new video conference application Meet by Google Hangouts.
While anyone with a Gmail account can join a Meet video conference, you must have a G Suite enterprise account to schedule video conference calls.
Gmail Add-on Support
Yet another new feature, Gmail Add-on Support allows one-click/tap integration of popular third-party software such as Quickbooks and Salesforce into your business Gmail.
By automating mundane, repetitive tasks like report generation, you save the time that would have been spent manually creating the same reports from scratch.
Who Is Using G Suite?
According to Buildwith.com there are about 7 million domains using G Suite. And about 3 million of these are paying customers per Sundar Pinchai, CEO, Google in early 2017. You will see that they have just over 30% of the top 10,000 websites use Google Apps.
As Google continues to win over converts from Office 365, G suite may become a credible threat to the deeply entrenched Microsoft Office products currently in use.
Pros and Cons of G Suite for Businesses
G Suite offers some great features that give it an edge over Office 365, including robust security and easy-to-use data security and compliance management. For small businesses, its pricing structure and price points are hard to beat. Buy Google Apps.
However, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.
Some features of the G Suite could use improvement. A few complaints have centered around how Google often rolls out features to Gmail customers (free) first before making them available to G Suite clients.
Other complaints revolved around Google Docs and Google Sheets having fewer layout and formatting options than what is already available in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, and as mentioned before searching for documents can be problematic depending on if you created the file or if it was shared with you.
At the end of the day, G Suite is a cloud-based SaaS and, as such, will not have the same level of features and functionality a desktop office suite will have. That being said, Google’s G Suite is more than adequate for a broad variety of business types and sizes, but if your users are power users of any of the desktop apps – this may be your compelling reason to choose Office 365.
The G Suite for Enterprise has grown from a ‘me-too’ productivity suite into a competitor that is gaining market share.
Startups and young businesses may find a lot to love about the G Suite beyond its affordable pricing, however for an Enterpirise customer should may be better off with Office 365. It has a better support base, a channel of partners that can help with migrations and the tools are a bit more fleshed out.
The G Suite is my go to purchase it’s well worth the $5 per month per user for the basic features. It’s a definite buy, for those with basic needs. But as mentioned before for the true enterprise webmail use, you’ll probably be happier with Microsoft even if it does have the most complicated pricing structure that you’ve ever seen.