Microsoft Planner to Challenge Asana, Wrike, and Bolste
By Jim Lundy
Microsoft has always been quick to spot winners and two Aragon Hot Vendors in Structured Collaboration, Asana and Wrike, are in Microsoft’s gunsights. The reason is simple: Microsoft wants to own the Office and there should be nothing that gets in their way. This blog reviews Microsoft Planner versus established competitors in Structured Collaboration and a newcomer to watch.
First, there is a critical importance to this battle. Tasks have always been critical to work and one of the shifts we see occurring in the Digital Workplace is the idea of Work Management. Asana and Wrike are just two of the entrants who have become successful overnight and that is the reason that Microsoft is launching Planner.
Microsoft Planner vs. Microsoft Tasks
If you are a Microsoft Office 365 user, you have always seen a Tasks Tab in Office 365, but for many it went unused. Tasks was really a holdover app from Outlook and Planner is the App Microsoft should have had all along. Tasks was a simple app that got the job done for an individual. Planner is really for teams.
Planner is new, modern, and looks easy to use. The task creation was easy and so was looking at Task Status by individual and by team. Reassigning Tasks was easy. Planner is also designed to work on Mobile, a major plus for the modern workforce.
Microsoft Planner vs. Asana and Wrike
When Planner launches in a few weeks, the battle cry from the Microsoft Sales Account Execs will be—”stop using the other products, Planner is free (with Office 365)”. It is a solid argument, but the problem we see with that is this: Office 365 has a growing set of individual apps, some that work together and some that do not. Work tools need to work with other tools and that is where others, particularly Wrike, have an advantage. Wrike integrates with Google, Quickbooks, Zapier, and Slack for starters.
Microsoft Planner—out of the box works mainly with other Office 365 applications (email and files). That said, Microsoft Office 365 does allow for other apps, such as Asana and Trello, to be integrated into Office 365 Groups. We did a test and were able to connect an Asana account to our Office 365 Group in under a minute. The question is, is Planner good enough to make people switch away from existing tools? Time will tell.
App Overload and the Rise of Bolste
The issue that surrounds what we are talking about here is app overload. Users are starting to complain that they have too many apps, whether it is an integrated Suite like Office 365 or Google for Work. Switching apps takes time and it creates work interruptions for users, which impacts productivity. Of course, users are partly to blame here because they keep signing up for new apps—but it’s because their current tools are not getting the job done.
Bolste is a new app we saw recently and it is really the future of integrated work. Tasks are included for individuals and teams, but so is everything else. Bolste is a new way to work because it allows you to do work inside the app and simultaneously see where the rest of your team is in regards to the work they are completing. Other apps just track tasks and you have to leave the app to do the work. We also like the fact that Bolste makes it easy to invite external users from external organizations into the app to collaborate on a project or task.
Stay tuned for more on Bolste.
The Future of Work Is Digital
All of this points to a future in which work will become more structured and later, more automated, but that will take time. We see teams looking for less complexity and more ease of use. There is no perfect answer today, but structured collaboration tools providers are growing in part because enterprises are seeing results. We’d suggest that enterprises evaluate their current Cloud Office Suite provider vs the best of breed players in Structured Collaboration and Digital Work. Microsoft Planner will make Office 365 more attractive and that will put pressure on others.