Google Docs: The Future of Collaboration Not Sharing


Google Docs and Drive

To share or collaborate – what’s the difference?

Depends in what context you are using either of the words. One might share a lot of information, useful or useless, however may not really be open to discuss or participate in a conversation with others who do the same. In my opinion, and rightfully so, it becomes a nuisance, a waste of time and the entire exercise of information being tossed around becomes a burden. I am sure most of us have faced this, from the time of pen and paper, to documents or emails being exchanged or in a brainstorming session when one (over)smart individual tries to sabotage the entire concept of collaboration and conversation. Digressing from the topic, so let’s get to the point.

I find the idea of downloading documents, reviewing changes, attaching them again and waiting to repeat the exercise a waste. Plus, it might have made sense back in the day when collaboration and productivity were defined by the idea of throwing the “print and hand deliver” the documents was a norm. Not anymore, at least in the past 8 years, I have witnessed that change drastically. Thanks to the evolution, or shall I say the expansion of services Google has in offering. I am talking Google Docs.

When I first used it, I just thought it to be a convenient way of maintaining key documents, like my shooting schedule and scripts in Dawn News. Sharing the same centrally with my team and being able to access it with ease. “Sharing” with “convenience” was the prime purpose. It took me some time but eventually I realized Google Docs, was meant for better collaboration and not just sharing. Albeit, sharing being an equally important purpose.

It’s interesting to learn why a particular organization, especially ones like Google introduce such tools. We might think of such tools developed in their labs as side projects. They go through the process of testing and are rolled out as an experiment (or Beta, as Google is so well known for). Seeing their eventual success and users adopting these as routine utility, they become “qualified products”. Once enough users are using such tools, they get beefed up with upgrades and become more powerful. Eventually being monetized. Google I hate you for monetizing apps!

The story is different here with Google, specially with the introduction and the obvious evolution of Google Docs.

Google Docs – A Flashback

Google Docs and Sheets; Google version of the Word Processor and Spreadsheet was launched back in 2006. The products originated from Writely and Spreadsheet, integrated into a single control panel. Writely, was obviously an independent online word processing service that was acquired by Google.

Google Docs – The Vision

The acquisition and the eventual evolution of Google Docs Suite didn’t originate for the sole purpose of adding a new inventory of tools to offer its users. Maybe to compete with Microsoft Office, which has been the most dominant platform for as long as I remember. While these could be major contributing factors, one core reason was the idea to help teams effectively “collaborate” and be more “productive”. Their teams followed this, found this increasing productivity and thought many others out there can benefit equally. Indeed, and it has been phenomenal. This isn’t just coming from me, but Jonathan Rochelle, one of the key members who spearheaded the launch of Google Sheets in 2006.

Google Docs – The Present

Fast forward 10 years and the entire Google Docs’ Suite is a necessity. It has grown exponentially, so much so that it is one of the major revenue sources for Google. Not just that, it poses a major threat to Microsoft Office, the veteran who also knows how Google Docs continues to nibble its share. Microsoft has gone to an extent to adopt quite a few features from Google Docs in its inventory of Online Office Suite. These include features like real time collaboration on documents and a document editing experience via browsers. Obviously as more organizations focus (and believe) in working remotely, the concept of crowd sourcing and collaboration beyond borders, the idea of “real time collaboration” becomes a necessity. Google Docs, becomes indispensable. Which is why it is being actively monetized!

Google Docs – The Future

I can’t say that Google Docs will become the leader or pull the spine off Microsoft Office. It will definitely become a major threat to Microsoft Office for sure. It already is, with tools like Document Editor, Spreadsheet and Sheets (for presentations) and more.It acquired Zenter back in 2007, which has been integrated as Sheets in Google Docs.

On the other side compare the costs for Microsoft Office licenses to that of Google Docs for Work. For an estimate 400 or so employees the Microsoft Office would easily cost you $100,000 a year while Google Docs would come to a rough $25,000-$30,000 per year. If you are a Fortune 500 company, the cost might not leave a big dent, but if you are a small business or a startup (and more importantly, clever) you know how important saving on $70,000 a year is. This is no way means that you get nothing from Microsoft Office for the price paid, but tell me, do most of us even know what percentage of those services we use?

Microsoft Office to Google Docs and Drive

For a read, here’s an article from Business Insider from 2015. Talks about PopSugar letting go off Microsoft Office and saving $110,000 a year.

What does your organization use for collaboration? Share the tools in comments and let us know how these are helping productivity.

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Sardar Mohkim Khan Written by:

Sardar Mohkim has been blogging about Startups, social media and technology since 2007. He is an Electronics Engineer by education, Digital Media Learner by profession and Astronomy Lover.

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