Collaboration Leaders

Managing Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 Coexistence: A Discussion with Jorge Arias and Tom Hadfield

Explore strategies for seamless cross-platform collaboration and productivity between Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams with Google's Jorge Arias and Mio's Tom Hadfield.
Jorge Arias

The ability to communicate is the lifeblood of the enterprise. 

But what happens when departments or regions are firmly rooted in different chat platforms? The ensuing collaboration breakdown poses a significant threat to the health of the organization. 

Rather than attempting to root out platform coexistence with brute force, what if there was a better way forward? 

We are thrilled to be joined by Jorge Arias, Head of Google Workspace Latin America, Google, and Tom Hadfield, CEO, Mio, to explore insights and actionable strategies for coexistence of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. 

The reality of multi-platform coexistence

The rise of remote, hybrid, and globally distributed workplaces has been an evolution in the works for decades. With a shift exacerbated by the pandemic, enterprises have had to adopt new strategies to keep up with a workforce prioritizing autonomy and flexibility. 

“We've seen this shift towards modern work, towards real-time communication using a modern suite of collaboration tools. We've also observed customers really prioritizing managing the cost of their collaboration stack and figuring out how to get different tools talking to each other,” shares Tom. 

The implementation of new platforms, technologies, and processes has raised new challenges for the modern enterprise. The ability to work has become tied to specific tools; without them, departments are unable to complete tasks, communicate with their coworkers, and contribute to company growth. 

This is increasingly true for organizations with a large frontline workforce

Enabling collaboration for frontline workers 

Jorge shares that “after COVID-19, we saw many large enterprises in Latin America beginning to empower frontline workers with productivity and collaboration tools. 

For many years, those companies had used Microsoft for office workers, but they wanted to connect employees working closely to customers in the field. They wanted to expand the possibilities for frontline workers using Google Workspace.” 

Given that many employees already use Gmail in their personal lives, Google Workspace is a natural choice that comes with a robust set of features. Leveraging familiarity lessens the adoption curve and builds trust with the frontline workforce. 

Tom adds, “At Mio, we work with a very large consumer packaged goods company who has their factory workers on Google Chat, but they still have their headquarters on Microsoft Teams. Giving frontline workers a digital identity is crucial for the modern enterprise.” 

Another situation that necessitates a multi-platform environment is when organizations go through a merger or acquisition

Post-M&A collaboration challenges 

Tom shares, “We are seeing large mergers and acquisitions in every region of the world. 

Whenever there is a large transaction bringing together two different businesses, it's quite likely that they are using different collaboration tools. And it's important that they have interoperability from day one."

With reorganization comes a need for cost restructuring. 

Jorge adds, “As many companies are restructuring, they are resetting cost structures. And as part of the cost structure, they like to expand their possibilities beyond Microsoft with Google Workspace. 

But, the big issue is: Where am I going to put existing chat users? How am I going to get them connected? This is where interoperability becomes part of the equation."

Google and Mio: A collaborative partnership 

In 2023, Mio announced a partnership with Google to develop chat interoperability between Google Chat and Microsoft Teams and Slack. 

In 2024, the chat interoperability solution was made generally available. 

Before diving into Mio and Google’s partnership, let’s take a look at how Google Workspace is revolutionizing the chat platform industry. 

Creating collaboration with Google Workspace 

“Part of our vision and mission at Google Workspace is to maximize employee co-creation abilities,” shares Jorge. “Co-creation means unleashing the potential of every person within the organization to make a difference. This is how we will innovate.” 

Organizations choose Workspace knowing that their data will be secure. “Google Workspace is the most secure productivity and collaboration platform in the world,” Jorge says.  

Additionally, “we have been working with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and generative AI for 9 years now. We started in 2015 with chart suggestions in Sheets and suggested actions in Docs.”  

“Right now, we are trying to offer the best integrated experience to the customer. We aim to increase connection while offering a secure platform that utilizes Artificial Intelligence to maximize the employee’s potential and productivity"

Google Chat interoperability

Mio and Google are striving towards a future that redefines workplace collaborations. 

“We have designed a complete interoperability solution for Google and Microsoft,” shares Tom. 

“We have four key components. In order to enable chat interoperability– that is, the ability to send and receive messages to users on different chat applications–we synchronize identities between Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. 

We ensure that Microsoft users are discoverable in the Google directory by creating an interop account on Google. These are free accounts used to represent Microsoft users inside the Google directory. 

In the same way, we also create Microsoft user identities to represent Google users in Entra ID. Now, everyone is in both directories and users can chat to cross-platform colleagues natively.

In terms of the end user experience, Google Chat users can send and receive messages to colleagues on Microsoft Teams or Slack from within the Google Chat client. 

The user does not have to install any new software or change their behavior. They just find the user in the Google Chat directory and send them a message. The other user will receive that message on Microsoft Teams. 

They can also edit or delete a message from Google Chat and it will update on Microsoft Teams. 

Features like emojis, reactions, and threaded replies are also supported. 

It's really all of the same chat functionality that you would have with a colleague who is using the same platform as you. 

Mio also enables cross-platform file sharing so users can share files from spaces to channels via File Sync. 

Not only can users natively share files across platforms, but if that file is hosted in Google Drive, the Microsoft user will be able to log in using their Microsoft credentials and collaborate on that Google Drive document. 

This also works the other way around. If the Microsoft user posts a SharePoint file, the Google user will be able to authenticate using their Google credentials and collaborate on that file in SharePoint.

So now you can have two users on different chat applications collaborating on files together, even if they don't have an account on the other platform.”

Thank you so much to Jorge and Tom for sharing their insights on the challenges and solutions to successfully manage Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 coexistence

To learn more about our Google Workspace interoperability solution, learn more about Mio here

After all, “coexistence is the first step to expand the possibilities of productivity and collaboration,” says Jorge. 

“Such an easy, streamlined integration between Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams allows employees to maintain a positive experience, no matter what platform they are on. 

The possibilities are incredible. You can have the best of both worlds while increasing productivity and innovation.”

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