Google and the Enterprise: The Point? Money

March 19, 2012

You must read “Google Enterprise chief Girouard Heads to Startup” I wondered if a simple executive shuffle many months after a de facto demotion was news. Apparently the poobahs and “real” journalists find a Xoogler worthy of a headline. I have a different view about Google and the enterprise. I write about Google’s latest adventures in my Enterprise Technology Management column, published in the UK, each month.

Google pumped quite a bit of time, effort, money, and Google mouse pads into its enterprise initiative. In the salad days, Google could not learn enough about the companies dominating the enterprise search space. As I researched my Google monographs, I was picking up from interview subjects anecdotal information about the paucity of knowledge Googlers had about what enterprise procurement teams required.

In one memorable, yet still confidential interaction, Google allegedly informed a procurement manager that Google disagreed with a requirement. Now, if that were true, that is something one hears about a kindergarten teacher scolding a recalcitrant five year old. Well, that may have been a fantasy, but there were enough rumblings about a lack of customer support, a “fluid” approach to partners, and a belief that whatever Google professionals did was the “one true path.” I never confused Google and Buddha, but for some pundits, Google was going to revolutionize the enterprise. Search was just the pointy end of the spear. The problem, of course, is that organizations are not Googley. In fact, Googley-type actions make some top dogs uncomfortable.

What happened?

Based on my research, which I shifted to the back burner, I learned:

  • Google was unable to put on an IBM type suit. The Googley stuff opened doors, but the old Wendy’s hamburger ad sums up what happened after the mouse pads and sparkle pins were distributed: “Where’s the beef?”
  • The products and services were not industrial strength and ready for prime time. The notion of an endless beta and taxi meter pricing, no matter how “interesting”, communicated a lack of commitment.
  • The enterprise market likes the idea of paying money to be able to talk to a person who in most cases semi-cares about a problem. AT&T makes tons of dough making clients pay four times an engineer’s salary to get a human on the phone any time. Google delegated support down to partners. Won’t work. A Fortune 100 company wants to call Google, not send an email.
  • Pricing. If you are not sure what the ballpark cost for indexing 100 million documents using a search appliance, ensuring 24×7 uptime, and backing up—navigate to and look up the price of a Google Search Appliance. Now figure out how much it will cost to process an additional one million documents. How’s that price grab you?

When Larry Page assumed control of the company, I wrote about the wizards who were reporting directly to him. The head of the enterprise unit was not one of those folks. My conclusion: game over.

Like AOL, the notion of having a Google person on staff is darned appealing to some, but as the AOL experience makes clear, a Xoogler is not a sure fire money maker.

Here’s the quote I jotted down from the GigaOM story:

Still, market share and revenue may never have been Google’s goal. By offering a lower-cost option to the Office/Exchange tandem, Google forced the market leader to respond, and that may have been the point all along.

Baloney. Google expected to have big outfits roll over and wag their tail. The US government did not roll over. Most big IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle customers did not roll over. More important, the new wave of enterprise service and solutions providers did not roll over. Why? A lack of focus and a dependence on online advertising, legal hassles, privacy chatter, and a failure to deliver competitive products and services made the enterprise initiative a tough sell. Betas may be great for market tests. For the enterprise, a beta may be a hindrance.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2012

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One Response to “Google and the Enterprise: The Point? Money”

  1. PLM and Google Enterprise on March 22nd, 2012 7:15 am

    […] the following article – Google and the Enterprise: The Point? Money. Steve Arnold is analyzing Google trajectories in enterprise software. The main conclusion – […]

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