It’s been said that: “People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.” We all know people who see things as black-and-white, who view the world in over-simplistic terms. By taking an all or nothing view of the world, we miss the shades of gray, the complexities of the world around us.
That is exactly the mistake Google is making with the enterprise. Rather than bothering to figure out the unique needs of businesses, Google is following a simple, two-step recipe for its business customers:
1. Create products for consumers (because that’s where the ad money is).
As Dave Girouard, Google’s former vice president of product management, said during his Atmosphere keynote: “Consumerization of IT is obviously the central precept of what we do.
Google first and foremost has delivered technologies for consumers that have now over the past few years become part of an enterprise suite… I think that’s really what is special and different about what we’re doing.”
Shortchanging its Business Customers
It’s kind of like taking a pre-made cake mix, stirring in an egg, and shoving the result into the oven. It may not be the best cake, but hey, it didn’t require much work. Google is taking the same shortcut with its business customers. Rather than doing the legwork to find out what kind of cake would best serve the unique needs of its enterprise customers, Google serves up only one cake, and, like it or not, it’s a consumer version.
Don’t get me wrong; consumerization of IT is a very important trend in the enterprise. Many technologies that were once solely the domain of consumers are transforming the workplace in important ways. And it only makes sense that employees use the same social media technology at work that they’re familiar with in their personal lives.
Yet consumerization of IT is just one of many trends affecting today’s enterprises. The reality is that the needs of businesses are diverse and complex, and serving them properly requires a sophisticated understanding of their needs and challenges.
Unlike Microsoft, which has more than 20 years of experience serving enterprises of all sizes, Google has neither the experience nor the interest. Why? Because it derives 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, and advertising revenue comes from the consumer side of its business. As James Whittaker, a former engineering director at Google, put it: “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.”
Forcing a Square Peg into a Round Hole
So what is Google’s enterprise strategy? It’s basically made up of four pillars—all of which spring from the company’s focus on consumers:
- Pure and proven cloud—Google’s “pure” cloud strategy fails to give enterprises the options they need. It may work for a small percentage of organizations. But surveys show that the majority of businesses are planning to take a hybrid approach. In addition, it’s hard to argue that Google’s cloud strategy is “proven.” From the lack of a planned roadmap to a service level agreement (SLA) filled with caveats, Google Apps fails to meet the enterprise-ready test.
- Designed for teams—Yes, teamwork is important to the success of organizations. Yet more than half of employees spend about 70 percent of their time working alone, according to some surveys. The reality is that enterprises need a solution that fits both scenarios. That said, if teamwork is Google’s focus, you’d think the company would get it right. Not so. From the ability to track changes to maintain version control by checking documents in and out, Google Apps fails to deliver some of the most common capabilities teams need.
- Productive anywhere—Mobile computing is important to both enterprises and consumers, but here again Google Apps falls short. If you’re on an airplane or working remotely without Internet access, Google Apps’ offline support is limited and falls well short of today’s productivity expectations. If you’re working on a presentation or spreadsheet, sorry but your productivity will just have to wait.
- Simple and affordable—Google Apps is so simple that frankly it’s bare bones. That may be sufficient for some consumers. But for the many businesses that need more than lightweight, the costs of add-on products are quickly going to add up.
Taken together, Google’s approach oversimplifies the needs of today’s enterprises by assuming their needs are identical to those of consumers. In the end, it’s like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole.
The Need for a Holistic IT Vision
In addition to the consumerization of IT, there are many other trends pushing businesses toward greater innovation. The cloud, big data, and the changing nature of applications, are all affecting how businesses engage with their customers, partners and employees to compete more effectively. The cloud is opening up new models of innovation, and making it much faster to deploy and deliver custom applications. Business intelligence tools are becoming more sophisticated, enabling employees to use real-time data to make more effective strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to support businesses as they evolve in response to this rapidly changing business and technological landscape.
At Microsoft, we treat enterprise productivity as our center business, not a side project. Accordingly, we take business cloud needs seriously. Office 365 is an enterprise-grade service, designed to meet the most rigorous requirements for security, privacy, reliability, and manageability. To learn more, please read our new white paper, “Top 10 Reasons for Enterprises to Choose Microsoft Office 365 for Your Enterprise.”
When working with enterprises, Microsoft takes a customized approach, tailoring solutions to fit each business’ unique needs. We don’t look at technology in silo—nor do we force businesses to adopt solutions designed for consumers. By putting business before technology, we work side-by-side our customers to develop the strategies, architectural roadmap, business case, and recommendations that make sense for them. Google offers nothing like this. By comparison, Google’s approach is simplistic—and it’s one-size-fits-all.
Choosing Microsoft’s Enterprise-Ready Solutions
No wonder so many businesses large and small choose Microsoft after examining Google—Google Apps simply isn’t business ready. Says James Nolan of the James C. Nolan Law Office : “The Google applications just weren’t robust enough to compete with Office Outlook functionality.”
Jim Hill, Director of IT at Admiral Beverage Corp., has a similar assessment: “After testing both solutions, it’s clear to us that Microsoft offers a more reliable, secure cloud-based messaging and collaboration solution than Google.”
By forcing its consumer technology onto the enterprise, Google is missing the numerous shades of gray. By contrast, Microsoft gets businesses. With two decades of experience serving enterprises, we have a deep understanding of their needs, and work with them to develop unique solutions that solve the most pressing challenges they face.
Stay tuned. Over the next several weeks, we will take a closer look at Google’s enterprise strategy—and contrast it with ours to show you how Google oversimplifies the needs of businesses.