Outsourcer Salmat dumps Microsoft Office for Google Apps, Chromebooks


blog Last month Macquarie University generated quite a lot of headlines when it confirmed it would ditch Google’s Gmail platform and migrate instead to Microsoft’s Office 365 ecosystem. Well, now the shoe is on the other foot, with CRN reporting that Australian marketing outsourcer Salmat is in the midst (with the assistance of Accenture-owned Cloud Sherpas) of removing Microsoft Office from its operations and deploying Google Apps with Chromebooks instead. CRN reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Salmat has 4,000 staff, and aims to have staff that aren’t in contact centres moved across to Google by Christmas. It will then look at extending Google Apps for Work to its contact centres.”

To be honest, I am quite confused right now. We have some organisations dumping Google Apps for Microsoft Office. On the other hand, we have other organisations dumping Microsoft Office for Google Apps. So which is better? Which one should large organisations be using? It’s all mixed up at the moment.

My own opinion is that very few large organisations with a large desktop fleet will be able to get by on using Google Apps — Microsoft Office is too ubiquitous and files do need to be shared between organisations. Microsoft Word and Excel in particular are basic corporate must-haves for knowledge workers. Coupled with Gmail and Google’s Calendar solutions, this should be an OK combination for most organisations

However, really information-rich groups or those with compliance requirements should probably stick with Outlook/Exchange instead for collaboration. Workers who don’t have a desk or who don’t often use a desk are probably OK with the whole Google Apps suite and probably don’t need Office.

Is this how everyone else is looking at the situation? Or am I off beam?

Image credit: Robert Scoble, Creative Commons


  1. I was meant todo the chromebook rollout for brand starting with a W

    I am still worried this is a niche market for Google

  2. I think you’re off the beam on this one.. I would say it’s more commercial agreements than technology. Some organisation have paid large sums for a Microsoft Enterprise agreement, because this covers desktops and servers and Office, they have invested heavily in things like SQL Server, BI, Active Directory, Dynamics etc, A lot of IT departments are stuck on Microsoft (both culturally and in terms of vendor lock-in), there are teams dedicated to keeping those systems running, what do you do with them if you replace it with services that don’t need to be ‘managed’.
    In terms of functionality, they both get the job done, a lot of end-users prefer the simpler options of Google Docs, if they need pixel perfect layup then tehy’ll use something else, if you need to knock a document together, both will do fine. The Google suite is just as happy with Microsoft formatted files, so that isn’t a consideration for keeping Office, sharing and real-time collaboration is certainly better in Google as this video from Wall Street Journal shows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1wvzVjeOP0&feature=share

    • Google docs even falls well short of writing basic document. Consider the most basic software manual.

      It can’t do a table of contents with page numbers. It can’t have some sections in landscape layout while other sections in portrait. Can’t have more than 6 styles. That pretty much makes completely useless for any corporate document.

      • Google Docs has a plugin that does a TOC. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/table-of-contents/ickpeaanccmmabadbfiknbobkmkdnnaj?hl=en.

        Sadly, it doesn’t support mixed page orientations which I would agree can be problematic for some documents but this doesn’t mean it falls well short of a basic document creation tool. Having no more than 6 styles also doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker either. Word doesn’t offer the kind of collaboration available in Docs but I wouldn’t dismiss it solely on one shortcoming.

        It may not be sufficient for “your” needs but it seems there are others that it works just fine. It’s good for companies to know up front what those shortcomings are before they make a decision as any financial gain (lowered costs) might be limited from missing features (lost productivity).

        • No clients I have ever came across professionally would accept a document produced by google docs. It really doesn’t cut it for university either where they have to do a lot of citations. So the only acceptable use is informal communication between friends or small businesses.

          No one cares about collaboration if the documentation produced is sub par. Besides, if you really want collaboration, use word online, it behaves exactly like google docs.

    • Also that WSJ video is completely inaccurate.

      First of all Google docs don’t even have a fat client, so the correct comparison is against Word Online. Also, fat clients actually download files to user’s drive, so it would naturally carry more warnings.

      Then, Word online has none of the problem that the author mentioned. No a single one!

  3. Google has Drive™. Last company I worked at switched over (medium sized business) and never had a single issue with any word or excel documents.

    Exchange is imho a nasty beast at the best of times and 365 hasn’t changed that. Outlook isn’t much better (folks are just used to it is all).

    My current company (small) uses office365 (@ enterprise 3 due to action pack). I wish we didn’t but we’re MS shop and well action pack lowers costs considerably. Upgrading from exchange to 365 was painful. Upgrading from exchange to Gmail wasn’t (took a little time for those with Gb of emails but that was all).

    Personally I’ve found Gmail to be far superior in all things mail/calendar/documents. In general its interface is just more usable (even customisable via plugins etc). Yes shortcuts and options change and move but honestly so few use anything that special it just seems to suit most people anyway.

    G+\Hangouts isn’t what I would call preferred for business but then not many companies rely on a chat program currently.

    MS and 365 is stuck in yester year and the online tools for word/excel and email are a bit of pain to use instead of the desktop version. The webmail interface on a very large monitor and you still only see half a dozen emails at a time before you preview one. There’s no way to customise what does and doesn’t show up, how big or small you want stuff. You get what MS gives you and that’s it.

    Sharing mail boxes and calendars works but its simply more hard work to use it than should ever be necessary.

    • Notice just like Lotus Notes, Google mail is loved by administrators but loathed by all users.

      I use Google apps at a University and it is completely insufficient as a work tool. Working with email and calendar in very problematic. In the browser, you have to spawn a tab for each app you use, typically for me it would be email and calendar, so each time I have go to Gmail, the then open calendar too.

      Alerts don’t seem to escape the browser. If I don’t have the browser window active, I don’t know if I have new emails or not. Even worse, the alert I get for meeting reminders are also hidden in the browser as well. The most I get is one chime and a flashing tab, and when I’m working the browser is minimized and there is no way I could see a flashing tab.

      Then I requested outlook 2010, with the google sync tool, because missing meetings is bad for your career. There are problems with the sync tool too, mainly with the calendar. Mainly cancelled meeting doesn’t want to get delete with the sync tool. Anyway there were always some sync errors.

      Finally I got outlook 2013 installed. Using outlook 2013, I could connect via active sync, which is way more reliable than the google sync tool for 2010 (close to 100% reliable for calendar entries so far), but I don’t get access to the global corporate directory… Small loss I suppose.

      • There are several Gmail desktop notification apps/plugins that work very well and don’t require the browser to be open. You can also sync the notifications to your phone so it will vibrate or make an audible reminder in case you’re not looking at your screen.

        There are also these things called shortcuts that you can put on your desktop or taskbar that open email, calendar and all sorts of things. Why is opening them in separate tabs an issue? Do you have the same problem opening several websites in different tabs?

        • Environment lockdown and very long review and approval process. I downloaded the official google drive plug-in (built by google) for office and installed it. When I tried to use it, google apps says plug-ins are locked down and cannot be used without individually approved.

          I had to log a request and a business case to get that approved, and IT still haven’t approved it yet.

          I can see how google docs could be sufficient for small – mid businesses where their workers’ main duty is not writing documents. But for any other situation, google apps are woefully inadequate.

      • I’m not an admin I’m an end user (just happen to be tech savvy and tend to work closely with admins)

    • @Simon M
      Also ironically, only people who didn’t request Outlook to connect to their email are heavy hangout users.

      The main reason was so they can have chat and email on the same screen, which is nice. Though I prefer to use the app.

  4. I always try to view these “controversial” decisions through the lens of – was it an IT-led or Business-led decision. If the decision drivers are primarily around cost savings then it gets blurry because that seems to be a Finance/IT combination.

    Is it fatigue with complex vendor licensing and unrealised TCO from previous purchases or is it that the company is in strife and needs to cut costs significantly and everywhere.

    I can’t imagine how a person with any significant business/operational role – who needs to access corporate applications (and not just productivity tools) – is going to be more effective via a Virtual Desktop solution and a need for constant network / Internet connectivity. The costs of poorer staff performance / effectiveness / morale etc. because of a poorer productivity experience because of virtual desktops is going to make this a far more costly exercise than Salmat thinks it will be.

  5. Can anyone confirm is Monash university also went from google apps to Microsoft Office 365?

  6. Those switching to Office 365 may be upset in time. I was an Office 365 Small Business Premium user last year and the license fees went up 18% from one year to the next. Typical MS, get you locked in, then price gouge you. I’ve happily switched to Google Apps for Work and said so long to Microsoft.

    If everyone would start using the ODF formats available in just about all Office suites the compatibility issues would eventually disappear. If you insist on using Word simply save documents using the .odt extension rather than .doc or .docx and those using LibreOffice, Google Docs, OpenOffice will have better document compatibility with you. It is MS that introduced a 20,000 page supposed open standard for .docx that most other companies have trouble duplicating unlike Open Document Formats that are already supported in the majority of office suites. This is the reason governments like the UK have mandated the use of ODF for all documents created within their Government.

      • They didn’t make that % shift based on the Aussie dollar (it hadn’t shifted nearly that much when they announced it either).

    • Besides, it’s not that much of a difference. Google is $5 per month, office 365 is $6.37 per month via Telstra. But with google, you get 15g storage shared between Gmail,drive and other google apps. Where as office 365 you get 1tb for one drive and separate storage for email. So that might account for the price difference.

      Of course my small side business still use google apps because I got it when it was still free, and it serves my business’s need just fine.

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