Gartner and the GOOG: Is Google Failing in the Enterprise?

April 10, 2008

The Ziff Davis / eWeek story stopped me in my tracks. Chris Boulton, a fine, fine journalist, wrote a story the ZD editors called “Gartner: Google Doesn`t Understand the Enterprise”. (Read this story before it disappears from the eWeek Web site.) The hook for the piece is a Gartner professionals’ assertion that:

Google Apps is like a “fog rolling into the harbor,” permeating businesses quite possibly at the expense of Microsoft and IBM.

Allegedly Gartner pundit Tom Austin asserted that

Clients are calling us about GAPE [Google Apps Premier Edition],” Austin said. ‘They will use it as a bat to beat Microsoft or IBM to make them lower the cost of their software.’

The remarks appears to orginate in a talk at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo on  April 9, 2008.  The most telling part of this article, if  Mr.  Boulton  heard  correctly is:

In a line of reasoning echoing Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates’ claims that Google doesn’t understand businesses’ needs, Austin said that Google doesn’t understand the enterprise. It is not that the company can’t, he said, it is that Google doesn’t care to understand the enterprise. For example, while Microsoft and IBM offer customers five-year roadmaps under non-disclosure agreements, Google’s roadmap is one day at a time.

If true, Gartner must know a great deal more about Google’s enterprise success than I do. My sources tell me that Google is struggling to stay on top of the wave of success with its map and geo-spatial services. Google is reacting to customer requests, at least in the US government sector from what I hear from those familiar with canvas cubes in Washington, DC. My research about enterprise search revenues indicates that Google now has more than 9,000 licensees of its Google Search Appliance. This product generated somewhere around $350 to $400 million in calendar 2007 and is growing at double digit rates. The various applications, enhanced email, and messaging functions are pulling inquiries as well. In short, the Google is disrupting the traditional enterprise market on several fronts. Google lets customers pull Google to them. Google doesn’t push for sales like most enterprise software vendors.

My hunch is that Google’s “fog-like” behavior translates to sour grapes because Google is somewhat reluctant to shovel cash into the maw of the high-end IT consultancies for guidance.  Google’s reliance on “pull” tactics is challenge for some traditional consulting firms like Booz, Allen & Hamilton where I worked . Google has plenty of wizards and gurus on staff. If a pundit is Googley, that consultant will probably work for Google. This is a difficult concept for some for-hire experts to accept. But that’s just my interpretation of the matter.

I think Mr. Boulton got the story right. Could it be that Gartner doesn’t understand Google?

Stephen Arnold, April 10, 2008

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