Google hopes AI, collaboration will win G Suite customers

With messaging that focuses on innovation and teamwork, Google aims to woo more corporate customers for its cloud-based productivity suite. Is that enough to stop Microsoft's Office 365 juggernaut?

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With G Suite, Google faces an uphill battle against Microsoft’s widely used Office 365 productivity tools. At its Cloud Next conference in San Francisco earlier this month, Google unveiled a number of updates to G Suite, outlining its vision for a collaborative, AI-infused set of apps under the marketing banner “Make it fast. Make it smart. Make it together.”

Among the announcements: Google Assistant’s integration with G Suite Calendar; the expansion of Cloud Search to third-party business applications; and the addition of telephony features to create a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) offering within G Suite.

Following that raft of updates, is G Suite better positioned to truly threaten Microsoft’s Office 365 dominance?

G Suite has certainly built strong momentum of late, adding another million paying business customers in the past 12 months to reach 5 million. Among these are a range of big-name customers such as Colgate-Palmolive and market research giant Nielsen; however, Google doesn’t break out its customer numbers by organization size.

“G Suite continues to grow rapidly,” said Raúl Castañón-Martínez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, though he added that Google is likely to have benefitted from overall market growth, not necessarily by making a dent in Microsoft’s share.

As more businesses invest in digital workplace tools, Office 365 adoption continues to grow quickly, too. There are now 155 million individual Office 365 users, up from 135 million a year ago. (With Google counting business customers and Microsoft counting individual users, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.)

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