If you haven’t read what I believe is the first fundamental difference between Google Apps and Office 365 then you’ll find it here:
The second fundamental difference is that Google Apps does not understand collaboration and here’s a few reasons why.
Google Apps and Office 365 are mainly about a suite of products. The main product most focus on is email. You know what? Email is a commodity. So many suppliers do it and there is not much real value or differentiation you can apply to email, in, as long as a business gets their emails who generally cares beyond that right? From a functionality point of view email is email and thus a commodity. Therefore whatever email functionality one provider has is generally the same as another provider so let’s agree to say hosted email systems are pretty equal.
What I will tell you is that email is an ‘old world’ technology. Today’s world is all about sharing and making information public so that it can be shared rather than siloed in someone’s inbox never to be seen again. Why do you think Facebook has over one billion users? Today people want to SHARE information. As a business I need to collaborate on all sorts of information quickly and easily including, files, folders, calendars, contacts, tasks and so on.
I will also tell you that those entering the work force now have little concept of traditional drive letters. They have no concept of C: and D: drives. They have no concept of network drives. They have no concept of mapped drives. To them it is simply data and the technology that gives them access is search. So the concept of files and folders in ‘traditional’ folders is really old world stuff.
When you take a look at how Google Apps approaches data they seem to me to still be locked into that old world of files and folders.
When you put files into Google Apps it goes into it’s own separate drive area. This is just like my old C: drive right? Can I add more columns or metadata around these files? Not from what I can see. Sure you can add a star but what about if I want to categorize files by customers? Again, just dumb old files and folders. How is that ANY different from what I did on my PC XT in 1984 in DOS?
SharePoint by contrast provides a single web location for files AND folders AND calendars AND tasks AND everything in ONE PLACE in what is known as a Team site. In the repository within the SharePoint Team Site that holds files and folders you can add as many columns as you like to describe your data. These columns can be text, numbers, dates or your a set of your own choices. You can sort and filter on multiple columns. You can create multiple views of the same data. For example you can change what file listings actually display to be just the file name if you want.
That is collaborative thinking not simply migrating old world thinking to hosted storage as what Google Apps have done.
In Google Apps if I want to move from Drive to my Calendar I click Calendar from the menu across the top. That opens a new browser tab with my calendar. But wait, isn’t that similar to opening a new application on my desktop computer by double-clicking an icon? Yup, it is. What happens if I return to the Drive tab again and click Calendar again? Just like double clicking on a desktop icon again it opens ANOTHER browser tab to show my calendar AGAIN, even though I ALREADY have a calendar tab open. Now I have two calendar tabs open. Again, old world thinking now just brought to you in a browser.
In SharePoint, click on the team site calendar you are taken there. Click on tasks, you are taken there, just as you would expect in a modern web environment!
Now let’s say that I want to create somewhere dedicated to a project. This will need a location for files and folders, calendar, contacts, emails, tasks and so on just for starters. How do you do that in Google Apps? I can go into another area and create a Google Site but then how do I get a common calendar there? How do I display my files? How do I create a shared tasks list? Again, old world thinking being one app for one job. I NEED collaboration not just storage.
Ok, so let’s take something that Google should be good at, search. If I am in my Google Apps Drive area and I want to search for an item in a calendar I can’t, I can only search in my files. Why is that? If I need to find something I want to search from anywhere and find it. Again, I don’t want to be constrained in a siloed ancient world. I NEED collaboration. I NEED to get to my information from anywhere as I might not know where it is.
When I use the Search option across the top in Google Apps I end up searching the whole web not just my data. This reinforces my first fundamental difference concept between Google Apps and Office 365. Google Apps is provided by an advertising business, who are principally seeking to maximise advertising revenue.
Look at what is the top result when I attempt to search in Google Apps. IT IS AN ADVERTISMENT! Again, see my first fundamental difference.
If I need to find something in SharePoint I go to the top right and and enter what I am after in the search box. Bingo, as you can see from the above I get results from file name, file contents, calendars, contact, tasks and basically everything on that site. I also get a preview of some document content embedded automatically on the page. With a few clicks I can expand that search to every SharePoint site I have access to. I can filter the results by file type, author, date and so. Isn’t this what modern collaborative search is all about? I should be able to search across everything I have access to in one hit. I also don’t see ANY results or options to search any information but my own and I don’t get advertising unlike with Google Apps.
As I said previously, the new world is all about social. What happens when I try to be social in Google Apps?
I am asked to join Google’s public social network Google Plus. What happens when I join there? Is my information private? Nope. Am I pushed more advertisements? Most likely. Without question, failing to integrate your environment with social abilities is really old world thinking.
SharePoint by contrast has private social networking built in. It allows the integration with Linkedin and Facebook out of the box if desired. Microsoft is integrating the enterprise social networking product Yammer into SharePoint and Office 365 every day bringing more and more social functionality to their products. Why? Because social is the new way to collaborate, it is how things will be happening going forward in the modern age.
I could go on and on with example after example of how Google Apps just isn’t a modern collaboration platform. Likewise, I could mention in contrast how SharePoint has inbuilt automation with workflows, how it allows you to work with groups of documents known as document sets, how it has inbuilt eDiscovery and more, oh so much more. Microsoft has been developing SharePoint since 2001 as a modern collaborative platform because it understands what collaboration means. Google Apps is still no where near a modern collaboration platform from what I see. They have a long way to come to even be in the ball game. When you boil their solution down, it is just like a normal desktop PC just with a different storage location. Old world stuff I am sorry to say.
Now honestly ask yourself which product understands and supports the concept of true modern collaboration? Which product is continuing to modernize their collaboration platform with the way that people will work in the future? I hope you understand why I can honestly say with my hand on heart that only Microsoft does because Google Apps just doesn’t understand collaboration, or as they would say in Hollywood:
Google has brought email to a collaboration fight.