As the world grows more social through mobile technology, and telecommuting becomes more-and-more of a mainstay with employees, executives are forced to make a decision as to what their everyday strategy will be with the cloud (a linchpin to such efforts). Having said that, before embarking on such an effort, many CIO types are inclined to tell a cautionary tale of how data workers will respond to whatever productivity software they'll be provisioned. Seeing to it that a significantly large portion of the information-gathering and analysis work that occurs in most enterprises centers around the creation of word processing and spreadsheet documents, their concern is not understated.
It's undeniable that when most people think office suite, Microsoft Office is the first product that comes to mind. Given its long history of use by your everyday white collar worker, it's hard to think that a company will deliberately migrate to some other product, like Google Docs. This is most likely the reason Google has boosted Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office as one of its premier Google Apps offerings.
In a nutshell, Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office provides Word, Excel and PowerPoint document synchronization, sharing and co-editing for any version (2003 on up). Once a document is synced on the Google cloud, a URL is generated, which can be referenced from anywhere, even mobile devices. Documents can be shared amongst peers, and historical versions of edited files can be reverted back to easily.
Cloud Connect vs. Office 365
As engaging as Cloud Connect might seem to the uninformed, those familiar with Microsoft's SharePoint product, created over ten years ago, might remain unimpressed. And with Office 365, one would think you'd be better off (in terms of dependability and support) by just going straight to the source, instead of buying into some third-party plug-in. On the contrary though, Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is super cheap!
Considering the low cost of an annual subscription to Google Apps ($50.00), versus the cost of Office 365 (see my "How to choose an Office 365 enterprise plan" post), with all the bells and whistles, a company can realize a savings somewhere within the range of 50 to 75 percent, by electing for Google's cloud. Furthermore, when estimating the cost benefit of such a move in respect to the function, choosing one service over another is six of one and half a dozen of the other. Most of this depends on business need and culture, or how much your average worker leverages all the productivity features that the most robust Office edition gets you.
See this pricing page to get a sense for what $50.00 annually gets you with Google Apps,which includes Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
Needless to say, Google Cloud Connect can have great appeal to many an organization that doesn't want to shake the proverbial tree when it comes to ensuring information workers can still perform their regular tasks with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For those companies working off of older versions of Office, using Cloud Connect probably makes even more sense, so long as more advanced products like InfoPath and SharePoint Workspace aren't necessitated. Something that CIOs and executives need to realize though is that Connect is a bridge to something more permanent. Eventually, Microsoft Office will be almost fully immersed in the cloud (meaning no more PC-installable editions of Office), and as support dwindles down for legacy versions of Office, enterprises are going to need to eventually bite the bullet. Whether it makes more sense for an enterprise to choose Google's cloud over Microsoft's, remains to be seen.
Ian is a manager of business intelligence/analytics for a small cap NYSE traded energy company. He also freelance writes about business and technology, as well as consults SMBs upon Internet marketing strategy.