As Google moves to reshape Workspace, barriers to business adoption remain

As Google moves to reshape Workspace, barriers to business adoption remain

Since at least June, Google has boasted that Workspace, its productivity and collaboration tool, has 3 billion users, demonstrating the massive size of its mostly consumer client base. However, when it comes to commercial adoption, the company still has a long way to go to catch up to Microsoft’s Office 365.

According to the most recent Workspace user statistics, there are now over 2 billion users, up from 2 billion at the end of 2019. Despite Google’s lack of specifics, the majority of these are most certainly Gmail users: Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) offers four paid subscription choices as well as a free version that gives you access to Gmail, Drive, Docs, and Meet

According to Google’s most recent publicly available statistics, there were 6 million paid customers as of March 2020.

According to analysts, business adoption is increasing, but at a modest pace, particularly when it comes to matching the scale of market leader Microsoft and its Office 365 suite.

According to Gartner research, Google increased their share of the productivity software industry to 10.3 percent in 2020, displacing Microsoft by around 2%. However, with 89.2 percent, Microsoft remains the overwhelming top. Overall, the market for productivity software suites is expected to grow 18.2 percent in 2020

“Our market share analysis shows that Google is constantly growing and taking market share, but at a rate that is still quite low: it isn’t making a huge dent in what is still a Microsoft-dominated space,” said Michael Woodbridge, research director at Gartner’s Digital Workplace, Content, and Insights team.

Similar findings have been seen in other studies. Microsoft 365, which bundles Office 365 and Windows 10, maintained the clear winner in Okta’s annual assessment of workplace apps used by its own identity management software clients, with Workspace in fourth place. (Okta’s perspective is probably cautious here: as a competitor to Microsoft’s Active Directory, its customer base naturally skews toward non-Microsoft users.)

When compared to Google Workspace as a whole, Teams, the workstream collaboration tool within Office 365, is the most extensively used (42 percent of respondents), according to a recent CCS Insight analysis on app collaboration usage (21 percent ). The latter figure represents an increase of 17% over the previous year.

“It’s a significant increase year over year,” said Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight, citing the pandemic’s adoption of Google’s Meet video tool as a possible explanation. Despite this, she believes there is still “some way to go” in terms of widespread industry adoption

The concept of interconnectedness emerges as a significant subject.

Since the appointment of general manager Javier Soltero from Microsoft in late 2019, Google has made numerous substantial modifications to Workspace in order to persuade more organisations to use the software suite.

Workspace’s rebranding from G Suite in 2020 corresponded with efforts to break down some of the application silos, with interconnection emerging as a significant topic in the last year. This has included the ability to switch between Workspace apps without having to switch screens, such as starting a Meet video chat immediately from Docs to collaborate with colleagues.

Google’s Smart Canvas concept, which breaks down features of its productivity programmes into modular components — such as tasks and surveys — that can be put into numerous projects and updated in real time, was unveiled earlier this year. While other companies, such as Microsoft and a number of startups, have similar capabilities, it’s an indication of how Google intends to encourage new ways of working in the future, particularly in the area of hybrid remote wk.

“If you build a platform where the flow between different skills is much more natural,” Ashenden added, “then more people will utilise more portions of the product.” As a result, the product becomes more appealing to consumers, having the potential to become “far more essential to an organization’s collaborative strategy,” according to her.

With the integration of AppSheet into Gmail, Google furthered its goal of connection across its portfolio at last week’s Cloud Next event, a move Google believes will make the no-code platform it acquired last year more accessible to users.

With Google Apps, G Suite, and now Workspace, the firm has long focused on enabling new methods of working (such as popularising co-authoring). That message rings especially louder in a time when office work is being disrupted in fundamental ways.

“The struggle [for software vendors] is the future of employment,” Woodbridge added. “Google approaches this with a proposal that offers you a new way of working… New content kinds, totally browser-based, interconnected, collaborative, simultaneous editing in all applications. All of this encourages a company to think about work in a more collaborative manner.”

That kind of messaging, on the other hand, can be a double-edged sword; many firms are change-averse and sluggish to adopt new technologies or new ways of working. “The prospect of massive disruptive change makes large organisations nervous,” Woodbridge said, especially when it comes to competing with — or dislodging — productivity and collaboration tools that employees may have used for decades.

Another advantage of Google Workspace over Office 365 has been pricing, but it’s unclear how much of an impact Microsoft’s latest price hikes will have on market share.

Workflow and collaboration

Workstream collaboration is a crucial area of competitiveness between the Google and Microsoft suites, according to Woodbridge. Despite the fact that Workspace, like G Suite before it, includes an instant messaging facility (dubbed Chat in its most current incarnation), Google’s collaboration strategy has mostly focused on Gmail as the hub for teamwork in recent years. This tapped on one of Google’s strengths: the widespread use of its email client (there were 1.5 billion Gmail users in 2019).

However, there are signs of a strategy shift, with a stronger focus on Workspace Chat and Spaces, which debuted last month to replace Chat Rooms as a tool to connect employees. Although it launched just weeks ago and is “very early in that cycle,” Spaces, which serves as a central space for collaborating on papers, reading team conversations, and more, is a closer competition to Slack and Teams.

“Over the last two years, Teams’ adoption to support [collaboration] has exploded, and Teams has become the key user application within Microsoft 365 to facilitate remote work.” “In the Google platform, that’s not as strong,” Woodbridge added.

Google stated at Cloud Next that enabling people to work in Workspace is a top goal, and that it is concentrating on developing first-party connectors with its own tools and third-party apps. The interface with Atlassian’s ticketing software Jira, unveiled at Cloud Next, helps to realise this objective, however Workspace lags behind other workstream collaboration solutions in this regard due to their deeper integrations with third-party apps.

Other businesses have begun to deepen their relationships with their own business apps in order to better integrate team collaboration into user workflows. It’s an area where Google doesn’t have its own storey: while developing contact centre capabilities in recent years, it doesn’t have its own portfolio of business apps that can link to Workspace.

“The key question they’re attempting to answer is about workflows and integrations: ‘How can we put processes into Workspace instead of just using it to discuss things?’ ‘How do we get to the point where the work is completed?’ “There was a bit of a void in their strategy,” Ashenden explained.

While Google is making progress in this approach, there is still work to be done in terms of developing third-party connectors that enable Workspace workflows. “It’ll be a while before a.) they have enough of them and b.) they communicate to customers that it’s something Workspace can do.” As a result, there’s obviously some catching up to do in that area.”