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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

At the time of the migration, Telus International had several different setups for productivity and collaboration. Working across the company's offices (some of which exist as a result of acquisitions) while using on-premises versions of Microsoft Office was cumbersome. While it took work to manage the change from Microsoft's suite to Google's, Ringman said that the outcome was positive.

"The reality we've seen, we've seen better collaboration, better communication and frankly had better [employee] engagement," Ringman said. "We actually measure our engagement scores ... and have seen an increase in our engagement scores somewhat directly as well as indirectly due to our rollout of the Google G Suite."

Businesses build entire workflows around Office products, and will often use macros to automate some of their work, said Patrick Moorhead, the founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. That entrenched use of specific features can also hinder adoption.

“So, for instance, a company will go in and do macros and run their business on a spreadsheet. And that is a factor. I can’t just dial up G Suite and have those macros work,” Moorhead said. “G Suite was born in the cloud, Office 365 was born on the desktop. So if you have things that need to run on the desktop really well like macros, that instantly takes you out of the G Suite camp.”

That’s a problem Google's engineers are working hard to tackle, according to Prabhakar Raghavan, a vice president of engineering at the company. However, he said it's a challenge because the macros have been built for client software that runs on a user's computer, rather than a web app.

"Our intent is not to move off 100 percent cloud into some sort of hybrid environment, our direction is to remain in the cloud," he said. "And so the challenge my engineers are hard at work solving is how to provision, entirely in the cloud, the things that people can get from a hybrid environment."

People at Telus International who still need to rely on macros or other dedicated functionality in Microsoft Office can still use the on-premises software that the company still holds licenses for. When employees using Chromebooks need a traditional desktop computer environment, the company uses virtual desktops to compensate. 

Still, switching from Office to G Suite involves much more than just getting users to adopt a new user interface. That could prove problematic to businesses, according to David Lavenda, the co-founder of Harmon.ie. His company makes software that helps connect Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint, and ease companies' migrations from Lotus Notes to Office 365. A number of its clients looked at G Suite and ultimately opted to go with Office.

 

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