Google Remakes G Suite Into a Work Hub, Challenges Microsoft for the Future of Work
by Jim Lundy
Summary: In one of the most complete makeovers of G Suite in years, Google unveiled a new integrated app experience that blends all of the G Suite collaboration and communication functionality into a common client, including new capabilities in Chat rooms.
Event: On July 15th, 2020, Google announced its new integrated workspace in G Suite via a blog post. The new offering will be generally available to G Suite customers over the course of August 2020.
Analysis: We are leaving the best-of-breed application era that was a highlight of the early days of cloud computing. With this announcement, Google successfully integrated Gmail, Chat, meetings (Meet), and projects work (rooms) into a common device-agnostic experience. This helps to bridge the gap in how people work, bringing email and chat closer together than ever. Google had been one of the first to have email and chat together on the web client, but this takes it to the next level.
The challenge for knowledge and frontline workers is that there are too many apps and task switching between them is cumbersome and time consuming. On top of this, with the speed of work that is needed today, eliminating task switching complexity will be well received by users.
The New Integrated G Suite
The new G Suite is not that different than what users had before, save for tight integration, enhanced collaboration in rooms, introducing shared tasks, files, and side-by-side document editing. In the past, Google Drive was that space.
Some of the highlights of the new G Suite:
- Gmail, which continues to become more intelligent.
- Chat, which was recently enhanced.
- Meet, which was also recently enhanced.
- Rooms, which has new features (see below).
Rooms Is the Work Hub for Employees and Customers
In Aragon’s opinion, Chat rooms are a key feature in the new integrated G Suite. Rooms is the hub where files, tasks, and even chats can take place. While others offer this similar approach with their work hub offering, Google’s approach feels smoother with a strong element of industrial design behind it.
In the preview demos that Google showed, rooms also works well on a web browser. The launch of the enhancements to rooms is significant as in the past, Google Drive was one of the primary places people did work, other than Gmail.
The Power of Mobility
One of the things that is shifting how work gets done is the shift to mobile work. Google, which has the top market share for mobile operating systems with Android, certainly understands this, which is why they seem to get it when it comes to making their products work seamlessly on a mobile device.
The Race to Digital Work Hubs
Aragon has been writing about this gradual shift to work hubs since 2018 and since that time, digital work hubs have emerged and there are many different types of providers (see the Aragon Research Globe for Digital Work Hubs). Most digital work hubs are internally-focused. That is why we think that Google has thought this through thoroughly. There are always security concerns, but by making G Suite more open for teams, Aragon feels that more customers will lean in.
Connecting With Apps Such as Salesforce
Besides connecting to customers, one of the features that was previewed by Google was the ability to integrate with other applications, such as Salesforce.com. Being able to update records such as Salesforce right from G Suite is a game-changer that will make the rest of the market take notice.
Microsoft Put on Notice
Microsoft has Teams as its combined team collaboration and digital work hub. However, in their scenario, the Outlook email experience seems to be a second thought. It is important to point out that Outlook can be a tab in Teams, but for many they will continue to run the Outlook Mobile client as a separate app.
The Future of Work Is Integrated and Customer focused
The biggest challenge facing workplace tools over the last 25 years was the issue of inwardly-focused tools. Email took over from the phone system as the center of the universe and now digital work hubs are poised to become the center of work going forward.
Prediction: By YE 2022, 50% of enterprises will shift away from best of breed SaaS applications to an integrated work hub approach for knowledge and first line workers (70% probability).
- Enterprises need to look carefully at workplace productivity and the gaps that occur due to task and app switching.
- As digital work hubs come online, enterprises should develop a plan to retire best-of-breed applications.
- Enterprises should evaluate Google, Microsoft, and others to see how their approach to work hubs will meet the enterprise’s needs, particularly from a mobile experience perspective.
The new integrated work hub approach is challenging the best-of-breed app approach that has been popular for the last ten years. Since every minute of the workday matters, enterprises need to evaluate Google and others who are embracing this new way to get work done.