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What's keeping enterprises from using G Suite?

Blair Hanley Frank | Feb. 7, 2017
Despite Google's big business push, its productivity suite has an uphill battle against Office

While Google has spent the past year trying to woo enterprises to its G Suite productivity apps, it’s still the underdog compared to Microsoft Office, at least among large businesses. So what’s keeping it from broader appeal?

One of the biggest hurdles for Google achieving broader enterprise adoption is just the fact that the company’s products aren't identical to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office apps, Gartner Senior Research Analyst Joe Mariano said.

"Enterprises have been ingrained in the Microsoft stack for essentially the beginning of time, it feels like," Mariano said. "[Enterprises] have problems shifting away from that, because they have a lot of investments, either in customizations or how they're using the tools."

Office has been the dominant productivity suite in the enterprise for decades, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook making up key parts of businesses' everyday workflows. Google has a tough road ahead of it supplanting those applications.

It's not for lack of trying: Under the leadership of Diane Greene, the senior vice president of Google Cloud, the company's products have undergone a number of changes and fresh launches aimed at appealing to large businesses.

Those changes included a new Google Sites that has been built to compete more closely with Microsoft's SharePoint document management and storage system, and a Springboard service that’s supposed to help employees more easily find files they need. Last year, Greene revealed that the company created a consulting group to help understand the needs of enterprises using its products.

The company recently announced that 3 million organizations are paying for G Suite, up from 2 million at the end of 2015. It’s solid progress for Google, but much of that expansion has come from small and medium-size businesses, not massive customers.

Peter Yared, the CTO of Sapho, said that G Suite adoption has been largely nonexistent among the companies that his company serves.

"Look, we never run into Slack, we never run into G Suite," he said. "We never run into these things. Those are for the small part of the [small and medium business] segment."

Sapho sells a service that helps companies connect their disparate — and often outdated — systems of record with one another to help speed up their employees' work. Its clients are exactly the sort of large enterprises that Google is trying to gain favor with.

There are some enterprises that have taken the plunge, however. Telus International, a subsidiary of the Canadian telecommunications company that provides phone support, currently has 25,000 of its employees using G Suite. The company migrated over to Google's productivity suite four years ago and isn't looking back, according to Michael Ringman, its chief information officer.


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