Most established businesses have grown up with Microsoft tools when it comes to business productivity. However, a younger generation of users seems to be using Google’s G-Suite offerings almost exclusively when it comes to creating documents, collaboration and many other forms of productivity in school and their early business lives.
My youngest granddaughter is in a public school that uses Chromebooks and not one of Microsoft’s tools are used when it comes to doing her assignments or homework. All of their tasks are being done in G-Suite. As of now, she would not even know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. While she currently uses Snapchat to collaborate with schoolmates on joint assignments, Google’s newest chat tools will make it easier for her to use these tools so she can stay in G-Suite when working with other classmates on a project, instead of jumping off to SnapChat to handle that part of the collaboration process.
I recently attended a G-Suite briefing at Google that shared the three new updates to Microsoft’s Office alternative, in which the number one thing asked for by users was the integration of this chat feature to become part of the total G Suite Solution. At this briefing, they highlighted their recent partnership with Salesforce.com and pointed out that Salesforce, along with other major customers in the enterprise and education, drove this demand for chat to be integrated into the G-Suite collaboration tools.
This was the first time I got a chance to hear and talk to the team behind G-Suite and saw how well this product was designed and how much Google pays close attention to their customer’s interests and demands when it comes to adding new features and functions. While I had read about the Google/Salesforce deal, I was not aware of how encompassing it is when it comes to how Salesforce will use Analytics 360 and G-Suite within their overall application.
I had a conversation with a high ranking exec recently whose daughter also uses a Chromebook in her school, and he pointed out that his daughter recently asked him to look at a doc she was working on and needed his input. He mostly uses Microsoft Office in his work and expected her to show him a Word document. But she pulled up Google’s G-Suite and showed him the doc in this application and a light went off in his head. At that moment he realized that this younger generation is growing up entirely without using any traditional Windows apps and by using Chromebooks in their schools, they are being programmed to use these tools as they grow up and most likely, will be using G-Suite when they eventually enter the business world.
After I left the Google briefing on new additions to G-Suite, I realized just how serious Google is when it comes to not only going after eduction but also business markets. G-Suite is already a real competitor to Microsoft’s Office and is the primary tool used in education today, especially where Chromebooks are being used. And, we are hearing that by this fall, Google will have a massive marketing campaign pushing Chromebooks to business users and consumers.
Along with that push will come many new models from the top three PC makers who are becoming more bullish on Chromebooks within their education programs. However, we see these PC makers willing to be more aggressive in designing new versions of the Chromebooks for business users too. In fact, don’t be surprised if at least one or two significant vendors become big proponents of Chromebooks and Chrome OS for business over the next few years as they are seeing more interest in these types of laptops by IT departments who, like Salesforce.com, are starting to see the value of these Chromebooks for their workforce.
That is why I also expect Microsoft to become even more aggressive with their Surface laptops and 2-in-1 products. The Surface has always been Microsoft’s way to try and compete with Chromebooks, and their Windows 10S software initially was explicitly focused on education. However, Windows 10S is being morphed into a broader version of Windows OS and is on track to become the core OS for Microsoft across all PC products in the future.
Given Google’s stronger focus on Chromebooks and advancing GSuite to meet the demands of consumers and business users, Google has emerged as a compelling alternative to what Microsoft has provided the PC world for decades. While Google has a long way to go to catch up with Microsoft regarding broad worldwide reach, I no longer think of Google as just another player who has an alternative PC OS and Office competitor. Thanks to serious attention from the major PC makers and Google’s own efforts to make their software applications better for business and education, Google has emerged as a force to reckoned with.
Microsoft should be worried about Google’s ability to challenge them in markets around the world and be more aggressive with both their Surface products, Office and Windows OS evolutions to stay competitive. Google is in this for the long run and at the very least will keep Microsoft on their toes and pushing them to innovate. But I also see Google gaining ground on Microsoft and becoming a solid competitor to them in education, consumer and business markets going forward.