Google has fired off a direct challenge to Microsoft Office in an effort to halt some of the momentum around Office 365 and entice users over to Google Apps for Work.
For Office customers with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) who switch to Google Apps for Work, Google is offering to pay the Microsoft fees for the remainder of the period and chip in up to $25 per user for migration and deployment fees, in return for a 12 month commitment once the EA has run out.
It is a direct challenge to Office 365 which has been growing at an impressive rate and the launch of Office 2016 which is heavy on the collaboration features that have long been a strength of Google Apps, plus the increased availability of Office on mobile devices. It is also part of Google’s strategy to increase its enterprise footprint.
Google Apps in the enterprise received a boost when PricewatehouseCoopers become both a partner and customer for Google Apps last November, when it took the decision to roll Google Apps out to 45,000 staff, and effectively became an enterprise sales arm for Google Apps, addressing a weakness in the Google armoury and creating a new pain point for Microsoft. However, another high volume high profile Google Apps customer, GE, returned to Microsoft recently so Google’s progress is far from straightforward.
Google is making a cheeky attack against EA’s which are a powerful customer retention tool for Microsoft. It is hard to see Google Apps making major headway on the basis of this promotion (currently available in the US and Canada but likely to be rolled out across other regions) but it pays to look at the bigger picture: Google will be hoping that enterprises exposed to Google Apps will adopt its other cloud platform offerings, enabling it to win business against Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. This cloud platform 'land and expand' strategy is also being actively pursued by Microsoft.
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