What do Office 365 and Google Apps have in common

Office 365 is beating the sh*t out of Google Apps in the Benelux. Not only industry watchers write that Microsoft is gaining A LOT of traction in the global enterprise market, but my own quarterly scripted audits of more than 9.000 Belgian companies also confirm this. “Massacre” is the proper word in this (Belgian) context.

The last couple of weeks I have been seriously involved with an Office 365 deployment. Choosing Office 365 makes sense to many as, at first glance, change management related to the implementation is minimal; employees continue to use applications such as Outlook, Excel or Word in the way they have always used them before.

In the past many chose Google Apps because of its great mobile support and realtime collaboration features.

Recent launches and frequent updates of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Outlook for iOS and Android were simply brilliant strategic moves on behalf of Microsoft. And now with the launch of Office 2016 with realtime collaboration in Powerpoint and Word seen by some professionals as the last nail in the Google Apps coffin, little remains of what makes Google Apps unique.

Sure I noticed that Skype for Business/Lync on mobile doesn’t support video calling or IM sync between devices, or that online versions of Word, Excel or Powerpoint lack a lot of the (needed) features that Google Apps does have. But if Microsoft keeps updating their applications and services at the current pace, they will also surpass Google soon.

However there is one constant that I have noticed.
What I have seen is that leveraging Office 365 to what it could provide to an organization needs exactly the same plan of attack of a Google Apps deployment: change management.

And this will be increasingly become more important when Office 365 deployments with Office 2016 will be rolled out. Being able to understand the benefits AND use new features such as realtime collaboration in “traditional” applications will trigger a lot of resistance to change.

So if you are seriously considering switching to Office 365 and want your workforce to fully use its capabalities, you’d better read up on change management. Actually Google has paved the way with this “Practical guide to change management for Google Apps adoption“. Have fun!