GSuite as a Change Agent
In interviews, CIOs and CTOs from across the industry consistently mention a few specific themes that they are struggling within their companies. Primarily, technology executives from both small and large companies are grappling with how to update their legacy technology systems.
These companies have lots of outdated legacy software and disparate systems that need to be unified and/or replaced, but the process of implementing new systems often proves difficult. Most leaders feel that it is impossible to fix everything at once. Getting everyone onboard with overhauling the systems can be a daunting task, but the key is to start with a quick and easy, yet impactful change. One tactic is to introduce a sweeping change in one of the company’s most prevalent technologies in order to signal to the entire company that change is coming.
And changing most prevalent, most used and system of record is your email system (which these days goes along with your office tools and collaboration tools). Yes, you got that right, your email system. One study estimated that workers are spending 18 hours a week on email.
Roadblocks to change
There are a number of practical challenges to replacing your legacy systems such as cost, implementation time, employee training, data conversation, loss of data and potential application incompatibilities. However, the biggest challenge reported by technology executives is the resistance to change by their employees. Your company culture is built on these legacy systems, and your employees don’t want to change the way they think or act in order to fix the problems.
Mainly, your employees feel comfortable with their job as it is, even if there are system inefficiencies that make their job difficult at times. As the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Millennials grew up downloading a new app every week and have no loyalty to software systems or the companies that employ them, but older employees who have spent years building their skills and institutional knowledge prefer what is most familiar to them.
But a change in your office platform from something that has been historically entrenched (we have always used outlook dammit!!!) to something that decidedly feels more modern. As I have said many times to clients, the office suite will basically line up your culture. If you would like a culture like Microsoft then choose 365, but if you would like to build a culture more like Google then choose GSuite.
To successfully upgrade your software systems, you need employee buy-in in order to solve all of the practical challenges associated with a new system implementation. Moreover, you can’t have your business output drop as a result of internal system upgrades. As such, your employees will need to embrace the new system and work extra hard during the transition period to drive the same results. New systems will eventually improve output, but it is often hard for employees to see the forest through the trees on a day-to-day basis during a system transition, which can take anywhere from weeks to months or even years depending on the size of your company.
The resistance to change is an aspect of most company cultures that develops over many years, over thousands of decisions and management-employee interactions. Trying to change the culture at your company can often feel like rolling large rocks up an even larger hill. Yet changing your company culture from one that is resistant to change to one that embraces and promotes change is absolutely vital in order to successfully modernize all of your technological systems.
So what if you could implement something that was profound, yet fairly simple to pull off in a short amount of time, that you could use to build off of for other changes?
A smooth road
There may be an easy, sweeping solution that will usher in a new era at your company. For people to consider cultural change, a significant event must occur. One that is not just a shift, but a radical change: a transition away from Outlook and Microsoft 365 products to Gmail and Google GSuite products.
Not only will this be an improvement in your technology base, but since email is such an integral part of your employees’ functions, it also sends a strong message that you are changing the culture. As your company culture starts to shift toward the modern, technology-fueled zeitgeist, it will become easier to solve all the practical challenges associated with transitioning away from legacy systems. You will, as the aphorism goes, have killed two birds with one stone.
Beyond ushering in a new company culture, there are plenty of practical reasons to switch to GSuite. GSuite offers all of the same benefits as Microsoft 365 – email, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, collaborations and cloud storage. But with GSuite the tools are decidedly more lightweight (do you really need 100 fonts in your word processor) and in my opinion decidedly more collaborative in real time. I still remember the first time I opened a shared Google sheet and worked on a sheet with someone that was not in the room, it was an aha moment that was for sure.
Microsoft’s desktop apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are the one area where Microsoft still holds an advantage on the sheer number of features (if that is an advantage) but save for the most robust financial modeling, Google’s tools should work just fine. Google has other advantages as well. They are built with search at its core, which is essential with today’s information overload. Plus, a vast number of third-party web applications integrate with and enhance the functionality of the G Suite apps. Similarly, any upgrades to Google’s software can be pushed remotely so your employees will always be using the latest and greatest technology.
Switching to Gmail and GSuite is a simple way to quickly implement a cultural shift surrounding your company’s attitudes toward the adoption of new technology and systems. Additionally, G Suite is decidedly more modern that Office 365, which will make it easier to hire and retain millennial talent. Your employees will likely complain when the transition to G Suite is announced because they are accustomed to resisting change, but over a few months, you should expect to see a clear paradigm shift in your employees as they start to reap the benefits from a simpler and more efficient office platform.
Additionally, when you transition your older systems such as a CRM system to something that fully integrates with G Suite and your sales team is suddenly managing there sales pipeline from within their email system, they will not only thank you but begin to perform for you.
A techie example, could you get rid of your AD/LDAP?
So for younger companies that started out on G Suite, many of these don’t even have an Active Directory or an LDAP server. For those CIO’s that have one(or two) this may sound almost impossible. For there would probably be nothing more difficult for many CIO to replace or remove than the core identity management system of your company, storing information of every employee you there.
Just think, get rid of the old file servers, migrate a few apps to the cloud or implement an OAuth single sign and bingo… no more AD needed. If it were only that easy!
Reasons for Change
So there are lots of reason for changing things, tons of features and benefits and you could build a huge matrix to analyze the change, and rank items to come up with the best solution for you.
Or you could just understand what is kind of company culture around technology are you trying for, if it’s at all closer to Google than maybe you should take the leap.
And if you do maybe replace the old CRM or homegrown access DB’s with something that works with G Suite gets to be just that much easier for your employees to embrace.
Just don’t start with the “We are a Google shop”, or if you decide to stay the Office 365 route, say “We are a Microsoft shop”. Hearing CIO/CTO’s say that about their companies always killed me. It typically meant they put blinders on to many, many great pieces of technology. Don’t define yourself that narrowly.