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The battle for business productivity: Office 365 versus the G Suite

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Before Google unveiled its low-cost, online G Suite, Microsoft was the first choice in business productivity software. Now, the two tools are head-to-head in a fierce competition to win your business.

How can business leaders choose?

Microsoft still dominates the $15 billion market for business productivity tools, but G Suite usage is growing rapidly, having increased its customer base by 49% year-over-year. Even big players like Salesforce and Verizon have joined Google’s camp.

With competition this intense, it’s clear that both tools are viable options that can increase enterprise efficiency—making it difficult for leadership to take the plunge and commit to choosing just one. Both Office 365 and the G Suite make productivity, cloud storage and collaboration simple and let users create and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations with ease. They also both allow for secure, custom domain business email accounts with collaborative calendars and compatibility and native apps on Android and iOS devices. In fact, there is hardly a feature one platform offers that the other doesn’t—video calls, voice calls, screen sharing and real-time messaging are standard features on both.

At first glance, it may not be immediately clear which choice is best for a particular business. After all, as mentioned above, the similarities are quite robust. However, despite these high-level similarities, taking a closer look into the two tools reveals some distinct differences that decision makers should take note of:

Microsoft Office 365

As one of the first, most universal word processing softwares, the Microsoft Office platform has global recognition. Microsoft used this reputation to their benefit and designed the productivity tools bundled in Office 365 to share a nearly identical interface with their classic tools (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). This is extremely advantageous, as nearly 1.2 billion people in over 140 countries know how to use Microsoft’s tools with at least an elementary skill level.

Its age and reputation have also granted Office 365 better back-end compatibility to legacy enterprise software. This is a significant advantage, considering updating legacy software to accommodate new document systems is a complicated, expensive task. Office 365 also has the functionality for users to work exclusively on-premise and offline. Employees can download the Office Suite programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and use them offline, saving their files directly to servers or desktops and syncing them later.

The G Suite

G Suite was created from the beginning as a cloud-based tool—its single greatest competitive advantage. Built within the cloud, the entire platform is optimized and designed for easy, real-time collaboration across devices. The stripped-down user interface and tools make it easy for anyone with a Gmail account (all 1.5 billion of them) to jump in and collaborate on a document.

As with the simplicity of the interface, the G Suite pricing plans are also streamlined and easy to understand, making it a great fit for smaller, younger businesses to integrate. If a small startup uses the G suite, there is no need to initiate a large transition to the cloud when the business gets major funding and begins to grow exponentially. Instead, the suite can easily scale along with the business, no matter how fast they may be growing.

Pain points of competition

Unfortunately, strong competition means that enterprises can find themselves working between the two tools. Clients and customers cannot be forced to use a certain productivity tool, and if there is not a preferred option within the enterprise, employees will choose a tool they prefer themselves. While this is a frustrating problem when it comes to shadow IT, there are other critical issues that arise.

Back and forth collaboration is possible between Office 365 and the G Suite, but it is not seamless. While they are built similarly on the backend, there are some technical capabilities and layers that cannot be transferred between the tools during conversion. That means specific formatting and edits, like headers, signatures and logos can be lost or altered when collaborating across platforms.

Alterations and changes can be a point of frustration for design, marketing and brand teams because inconsistency leads to brand compliance issues. If fonts or formatting cannot be carried over between platforms, strict brand guidelines are breached and inconsistent design is accidentally presented to clients. Outside of the branding sphere, more serious compliance breaches can occur when disclaimers and watermarks are altered or left out entirely when documents are not converted properly between the tools.

When an enterprise receives work from clients on a non-preferred platform or transitions from using both productivity tools to one, they disrupt daily workflows and put their branding and compliance standards at risk. It is crucial that enterprises reduce these risks and improve efficiency by investing in the right document productivity tools to supplement these platforms. 

How document productivity tools can help 

As enterprises grow and migrate to the cloud, it becomes necessary for leaders to choose business productivity platforms that can support document creation in both formats to avoid the pain points mentioned above. Automated document productivity solutions give enterprises the reassurance that the thousands of assets created daily by employees are consistent and compliant during any sort of platform change or large-scale transition. Features such as template access, automated content checks and formatting controls boost productivity across G Suite and Microsoft applications.  

Document productivity tools give enterprises a cloud-based library of digital assets. Working in conjunction with other platforms, the document productivity tools ensure that templates, logos, presentations and text elements are consistently maintained, guaranteeing that assets are up-to-date and distributed across the organization in a simple, streamlined manner. With these tools, teams can rest assured that branding is consistent no matter what platform employees use. And, when larger revisions are necessary, either from a platform migration or a brand update, a single administration platform can make the changes and deploy them across the enterprise.

The best productivity suite for the business

As the battle to become the best productivity tool barrels forward, both Microsoft and Google will continue to release increasingly innovative, user-friendly tools to enhance enterprise efficiency. While organizations of all levels will benefit from this competition with their pick of several quality programs and products, the close competition does have the potential to create problems. For the sake of preserving productivity and to ensure more efficient workflows, it is smart for leaders to make a single choice for their employees and augment that platform with additional automated document productivity tools.

It’s up to leaders to make sure the choice ends with the best suite of productivity tools for their enterprise—evaluating workflows and growth plans in order to choose tools that can evolve alongside the business. With change management and compliance concerns to consider, a company-wide template and document productivity tool can streamline processes between the G Suite and Office 365 as well as smooth any major transitions between the two. Then, no matter which platform comes out on top, choosing the best fitting tool for the enterprise is a sweet victory for productivity.

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