Yesterday Frost & Sullivan put out a press release titled “Google Storms Unified Communications & Collaboration Market” postulating Big G’s path to become an UCC vendor. No doubt that Google has made some very interesting acquisitions in recent years, but is UCC truly on its agenda?
Earlier this year Google Enterprise President David Girouard gave an interview to eWEEK about its enterprise Apps suite. The plan was to leverage Google’s massive server infrastructure to offer enterprise apps at costs low enough to displace the likes of IBM and Microsoft. Google was, and is always about cloud computing, but that aspect of their business is no longer a distinguishing factor as competitors also embrace the cloud to offer their own off-premise UCC solutions. IBM has come up with a cloud-based version of its flagship Lotus Notes products dubbed LotusLive Notes. Microsoft has pushed for its Azure cloud computing platform.
Google is still known for its search. Okay, maybe Android too, but in the grand scheme of things that’s still about search.
These days I wouldn’t be able to do business without Gmail and “Gcal” (Google Calendar), and although I also use Google Voice, I’ve found it to be less than adequate for business communications. The voice quality of Google Voice and some of its highlighted features (such as voicemail transcription) have been unreliable from my experiences. GV, to me, is only good as a convenient forwarding service — and that’s only when it works (50/50). Again, those are based on my personal experience in using these Google services, YMMV. Google Talk, with its added video chat capability, is something I rarely use (Skype is by far the #1 choice). Google Wave, now left to die a slow death, is an interesting take on real-time collaboration, but it never caught on.
I do think that Google definitely has ambitions to enter the corporate world, but it is struggling to find good footing. The company, founded by two Stanford PhD students, has grown tremendously and dominates the tech sector, but it has a hard time duplicating the successes of HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco in terms of enterprise reach. Although the Internet and the Web have helped launch notable companies like Yahoo!, Amazon.com, and Google, most of them are still very consumer oriented. Perhaps it’s in the DNA of how and why these companies were created, but they know they cannot simply thrive on consumer demand — the corporate market must be tapped.
Yahoo!, sadly, sort of gave up when it tried to seduce Microsoft. Amazon.com got creative and offered its cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Google, swimming in ridiculous amounts of cash from search revenues, had the luxury of throwing a few things out there and see which ones stick.
As successful as Google is today, don’t overlook its ability to fail. I don’t know for sure that Google is explicitly targeting the UCC segment, but its competitive advantages would post a threat to any company, if not now then in the near future:
- Willingness to fail: Failure is always an option at Google. And sometimes it prefers to fail spectacularly. That doesn’t mean the company sucks — it just means it has more experience than its competitors.
- Fat bank account: Obviously, having more than $40 billion in assets allows Google to initiate many projects. A few of them may turn into good products. And if it doesn’t feel like pouring manpower into a project then it’ll just write a check to buy a company.
- Operate on Internet Time: By the time you finish reading this bullet item, Google will have revised many of its software products. This is a company that wants an updated version of its Chrome browser to come out every six weeks. That’s just for a Web browser. How often does your UCC vendor send out updates to fix bugs and implement enhancements?
Perhaps a Google UCC product won’t show up anytime soon, but if I were an UCC vendor I wouldn’t let my guard down. After all, tell me an UCC company name that’s a verb in our daily lexicon… Trying googling it, but you probably won’t find one.
The straight-up from F&S:
LONDON – 18 August 2010 – Google, a California-based search and advertising services giant, has been known to employ aggressive acquisitive strategies towards the domination of new markets. A recent surge of takeovers such as Android, 2Web Technologies, Marratech, GrandCentral, Gzimo5, and other innovative communications and collaboration firms, as well as recently developed and launched products, show that the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) market is one of the Google’s directions. Despite being a new entrant, Google, with its proactive approach, abundant capital and human resources, will very likely become a major UCC participant in the coming years.
“Although Google has not officially announced this strategy,” says Dorota Oviedo, Industry Analyst for Frost & Sullivan Unified Communications & Collaboration group, “it is evident that, by continually adding new UCC applications to its portfolio and focusing on integrating them, the company is effectively entering the UCC market. In recent years, Google’s culture of innovation, numerous acquisitions, and openness to third party developers have resulted in a number of product launches in the UCC space, which in addition to Google Apps included a VoIP service (Google Voice), social media tool (Google Buzz), mobile services (Android) and recently abandoned online collaboration platform (Google Wave)”
At present, available features are not sufficient to make Google the UCC suite of choice for majority of large enterprises; however, the company already provides several synchronous and asynchronous UCC tools, delivered from a cloud as an integrated stack of applications. Accompanied by efficacious pricing, flexibility and ease of use, these tools are hugely appealing to businesses, particularly to small and medium businesses (SMBs). The integration of other, less critical consumer services with enterprise applications will further improve services offered and help in growing the corporate customer base.
“Until recently, Google has not been perceived by enterprise communication and collaboration vendors as serious competition,” adds Iwona Petruczynik, Research Analyst from Unified Communications & Collaboration group, Frost & Sullivan. “UCC vendors typically argue that Google services, being founded on consumer applications, are not suitable for a corporate world and do not form a complete UCC suite. However, they should recognise where Google is heading in the future and how quickly its products are evolving.”
Launched in March 2010, Google Apps Marketplace offers cloud-based applications in various business categories. This online store greatly supports wider adoption of Google Apps with new integrated utilities, offering vertically-specific customisation and expanded functionality. Such integration enables further productivity enhancements, as they leverage existing Google Apps data, such as contacts, calendar availability, and documents across multiple applications.
Moreover, Google is expected to launch the enterprise version of its Google Voice service during late 2010. Google Apps, enhanced with Google Voice and several other consumer applications, will create a very cost-effective UCC package for businesses. By the end of this year, Google Apps will have more than 90 different applications, such as Picasa and Google Reader, offering an abundance of new capabilities.
UCC vendors should closely watch Google and its ever expanding suite of UCC services. By constantly innovating and integrating all its applications and services into one powerful but cost-effective productivity-enhancing business package, the company has already positioned itself as a strong and fast-moving participant of the UCC market.
If you would like to receive more information on Frost & Sullivan Market Insight entitled “Google’s Enterprise Universe: Google Storms the Unified Communications and Collaboration Market“, or would like to learn more about UCC market, please contact Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org, with your full name, company name, job title and contact details.
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