Microsoft & Google have both invested significantly in cloud-based collaboration and meeting room booking technology in the race to become the industry lead within this market. Microsoft’s ‘Office 365’ platform and Google, with its competing ‘G Suite’ range of products and applications, both provide premium offerings within this arena.
The decision on which platform is preferable for your users is not solely based on the meeting room technology functionality, however that is a prominent feature within the product offering from both providers. While both platforms in theory offer the same collaborative goals, what are the real differentiating factors?
Microsoft Office 365
Office 365 offers all the standard applications that the average user requires, across a variety of monthly billed subscriptions. Their video conferencing solution is ‘Skype for Business’ combined with a variety of Surface Hub products and Office 365 room resource calendars.
So, what does the Office 365 meeting room tech experience look like? Well, users are enabled to invite rooms to meeting through Skype For Business just like they can their colleagues. They can also schedule Skype for Business meetings in advance, inviting the room, which then appears on the screen of the Surface Hub enabling a simple click to join from a tidy interface.
Office 365 also boasts integrations with Skype for Business and popular Polycom devices meaning the Surface Hub is not the only device option to create a productive meeting room experience. Skype for Business has a 250-participant limit which makes it a great tool for even the largest video meetings.
Google G Suite
G Suite (formally known as Google Apps for Work) seems like a newer player in the meeting room technology arena but they offer a very similar user experience to Office 365. G Suite employs the Hangouts application for its IM and Video solution and recently released a new “Meet” series of applications which claim to offer a frictionless meeting experience. G Suite comes in two simple packages at either $5 or $10 per user per month.
G Suite and Hangouts also offer very cost effective Chromebox solutions for meeting rooms, where individual components can be purchased separately which allows for a much more competitive overall cost of deployment. Hangouts is limited to a maximum 25 participants (30 for the new meet apps) which means for large webcast style meetings an additional solution may be required, unlike Skype for Business.
In this comparison, there is no clear victor. The market is large and diverse enough that both solutions have ample scope to secure their relative customer base.
G Suite has a very strong position with small cloud-first companies, whereas Office 365 wins on the larger corporate real estates. For meeting room technology, the cost of the Microsoft Surface Hub is a big consideration. The Surface Hub has a starting price of $8,999 for the 55inch model, in comparison to a Chromebox and accessories being around £1650 (without a display monitor). This leaves a strong possibility of corporates on the Office 365 platform being priced out of the Microsoft Surface Hub range and needing to look at other integrated options.
With more companies becoming cloud-first and introducing flexible and remote working policies, seamless communication and collaboration suites are becoming more important and vital.
Other contendors for meeting room technology are Cisco Spark and Polycom RealPresence, which can offer integrations into Skype for Business or Google Hangouts.
Condeco Connect is a great complement to both Office 365 and G Suite. Connect is a user-friendly, cloud-based meeting room screen solution that needs no extra software. Connect seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Exchange and Google Calendar for simplicity.