#3 in our series of 2009 predictions
2008 was a fantastic year for Google’s enterprise apps. They successfully made the transition from something small companies might dabble with to apps that large corporations rely on. In 2008, large corporations like Genentech and government organizations like DC government successfully made the transition to Google apps and became public advocates.
2008 was also a year of great innovation for the rest of Google’s enterprise-relevant technology, with the introduction of their App Engine development platform, great new APIs like the visualization API and significant new features like adding video to Gtalk. Google also got serious about becoming part of the enterprise application ecosystem. They did this through integrations between Google Apps and Salesforce.com in April, and integration between App Engine and Force.com, late in the year.
We believe that 2008 was an inflection point in Google’s adoption in the enterprise, particularly for mail and calendar. Google will double down on the enterprise in 2009 and see massive adoption. We believe this will be driven by 4 things.
Google continues to demonstrate commitment to the Enterprise
Google has publicly highlighted the enterprise as a strategic area in 2009. They have also made concrete moves to address enterprise needs, including obtaining SAS-70 certification, integrating with Enterprise class clouds like Salesforce and providing SLAs. We expect this to continue and accelerate in 2009 with expanded offline access, greater support for enterprise-class programming languages and more. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. Much of that information is generated as we all go about our daily jobs– those who suggest that Google isn’t serious about the enterprise have too narrow a view of their ambition.
Economic conditions drive evaluation of alternatives to Office/Exchange
Companies everywhere are re-evaluating their budget in the light of the stormy economy. In this environment, companies are scrutinizing all spend, particularly spending on non-strategic activities. Mail and Collaboration software, while necessary, require a disproportionate effort and cost for most IT departments. CIOs, who will be under pressure to do more with less, will be more open to evaluating alternatives to Exchange and Sharepoint. Forrester recently released a report titled “Should your email live in the cloud?” (More detail from RWW). The answer for nearly all companies was an unequivocal “YES.”
Enterprise references establish Google as a viable alternative
Google adoption and endorsement by the Genentechs and DC Govts of the world are changing the way CIOs think about Google apps. They’re no longer a curiosity but a viable alternative to Exchange. We’ve seen this shift over the course of the year in our own client base. Earlier in the year, questions were raised about about whether Google’s corporate culture is really “enterprise ready.” We stand by our assertion that it is the culture of traditional IT vendors that is no longer fit for the enterprise…. and predict that more and more of the world’s largest companies will agree with us.
Google apps functionality leapfrogs Exchange
One of the barriers to Google apps adoption has been companies fearing that their users will have to adjust to a lower level of functionality because of the shift to Google apps. While this might’ve been true in the past, Google has not only closed the gap but actually provides a superior experience for core messaging. A few key advantages are large mailboxes (10s of Gigabytes per user), the ability to search all messages using Google’s fantastic search capabilities, native iPhone/Blackberry access and integrated chat/video chat. And these features are available instantaneously: when Google introduced video chat, our clients started using it that same day. In an on-premise world, this would’ve required upgrades to each instance of the software before it was available to all users at the company.
Implications for Customers
Google apps are here to stay and are a viable, potentially superior alternative to Microsoft Office/Exchange. However, there are two important caveats. First, Google Apps, while sufficient for the needs of 80% of a company’s business users, will likely not completely replace Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Powerpoint. Here at Appirio, we continue to use Office for a lot of our document creation, but then move documents to Google Apps to share, revise, and present (instead of using email and GoToMeeting).