Going around, Coming around

goog-salesforce-logo.jpgThe ‘Lab is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. I plan to blog something more formal closer to the date, but this post about Salesforce.com integrating with Google Apps reminded me of why I am on the team at all.

Back in late 2006, I had just moved into Jesper’s strategy organization from development, and I was attending a bootcamp for new strategists at HQ. Bonus points if you know who organized the bootcamp (read to the end of the post for the answer).  Jesper welcomed us to strategy and offered that he would love to hear from us. You know, the “send me an email anytime” speech.

I took that literally and proceeded to spam his inbox with questions about our strategy with respect to Google and their new (at the time) productivity suite, i.e. Google Docs. He answered politely, which was very nice, and I kept on pinging him, extending the discussion. Eventually, he went silent because I guess there were other, more pressing issues on his plate. I know, duh.

I figured he had written me off as a nut, until I get a note from him via my manager at the time early last year. Apparently, he wants to talk with me about something. Aside from the feeling that I was getting called to the principal’s office, it sounded intriguing. So, he pitched me on this new team focused on innovation in Apps, small, nimble working on leading edge stuff.

Sweet. And so, I ended up here because of Google Apps, for the most part. Some of you may also remember my very first post was about how Google would (eventually) buy Salesforce.com. I still firmly believe sfdc will be acquired, and I still handicap Google as a top candidate.

These days, anytime you talk about delivering an application online, Google is the 800-pound gorilla. The Zoho People launch this week shows how tightly productivity tools are tied to enterprise applications.  Google has productivity Apps, and adding a hosted CRM application to their suite is a natural progression. Personally, I doubt it will end there, eventually leading Google into the enterprise applications space with a hosted suite.

Anyway, it struck me as serendipity to see how things have come full circle in just about a year.

So, now for the bonus question. Some dude named Paul Pedrazzi organized the strategy bootcamp I attended in November 2006. I wonder where he is now.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

24 comments

  1. I totally agree with you. Google will eventually move into the enterprise application space through what I refer to as GERP (Google’s ERP). Now, what is alarming is that they will not only do this very quickly, but also will acquire customers rapidly. The kind of customers they will initially acquire will be the ones who never tried out ERP Software or Small and Medium Sized (SMB) companies who are fed up with their custom built products. Google would no doubt develop a formula to integrate with existing ERP products and will modularize their application. This will encourage the big companies to move systematically into GERP. Eventually, in the years to come, they will redefine the ERP industry and how products are make. GERP will create a new enterprise market segment, something hard to define now. The big ERPs will re engineer their product to work with that of Google’s. Needless to say, one of the key features of GERP would be that it is hosted on demand like Google Apps.

    Now, let me explain the most important point – Why will GERP gain acceptance quickly? The word quickly is important here. Let me start with an example. Google Apps for example has been very successful with the SMBs soon after they launched enterprise class support for it. I use Google Apps (the free version) for my domain TechProtocol and its useful in many ways. One of the key features is the ability to store all your emails on the server. Email storage is a big problem for all companies including the big giants. IMAP has made it convenient to store emails on folders, but searching though them is a big problem. Its not possible to store all the emails as the mailbox sizes are limited to a few hundred megabytes. Storing emails locally on Thunderbird or other clients has its own problem. Google Apps offers 25GB of space and provides a fantastic search mechanism. Hosting and anytime availability of email is very essential. Ability to search and retrieve the necessary email improves productivity. Win win for everybody – End Users, Company, and Google. All this plus enterprise class support and low TCO has make Google Apps popular among SMBs. My friend, who is the Manager IT of a SMB tells me that the end users of his company cannot do without Google Apps. Google Apps to them is like Google to others. They in fact use most of the feature of Google Apps like Calendar, etc. In reality, what has actually driven these SMBs to use Google Apps is the pressure from the end users.

    When GERP is launched, this will create a similar impact. Not only will they integrate it will Google Apps, but with every other possible online product and existing ERPs. Needless to say, Self Support 2.0 quotient for GERP would be high. Google realizes the importance of Self Support 2.0 and will ensure that it is high. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmans (as described by Malcom Galdwell in Tipping Point) benefited by GERP will help spread the word quickly. All this will contribute to the quick acceptance of GERP.

  2. I totally agree with you. Google will eventually move into the enterprise application space through what I refer to as GERP (Google’s ERP). Now, what is alarming is that they will not only do this very quickly, but also will acquire customers rapidly. The kind of customers they will initially acquire will be the ones who never tried out ERP Software or Small and Medium Sized (SMB) companies who are fed up with their custom built products. Google would no doubt develop a formula to integrate with existing ERP products and will modularize their application. This will encourage the big companies to move systematically into GERP. Eventually, in the years to come, they will redefine the ERP industry and how products are make. GERP will create a new enterprise market segment, something hard to define now. The big ERPs will re engineer their product to work with that of Google’s. Needless to say, one of the key features of GERP would be that it is hosted on demand like Google Apps.

    Now, let me explain the most important point – Why will GERP gain acceptance quickly? The word quickly is important here. Let me start with an example. Google Apps for example has been very successful with the SMBs soon after they launched enterprise class support for it. I use Google Apps (the free version) for my domain TechProtocol and its useful in many ways. One of the key features is the ability to store all your emails on the server. Email storage is a big problem for all companies including the big giants. IMAP has made it convenient to store emails on folders, but searching though them is a big problem. Its not possible to store all the emails as the mailbox sizes are limited to a few hundred megabytes. Storing emails locally on Thunderbird or other clients has its own problem. Google Apps offers 25GB of space and provides a fantastic search mechanism. Hosting and anytime availability of email is very essential. Ability to search and retrieve the necessary email improves productivity. Win win for everybody – End Users, Company, and Google. All this plus enterprise class support and low TCO has make Google Apps popular among SMBs. My friend, who is the Manager IT of a SMB tells me that the end users of his company cannot do without Google Apps. Google Apps to them is like Google to others. They in fact use most of the feature of Google Apps like Calendar, etc. In reality, what has actually driven these SMBs to use Google Apps is the pressure from the end users.

    When GERP is launched, this will create a similar impact. Not only will they integrate it will Google Apps, but with every other possible online product and existing ERPs. Needless to say, Self Support 2.0 quotient for GERP would be high. Google realizes the importance of Self Support 2.0 and will ensure that it is high. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmans (as described by Malcom Galdwell in Tipping Point) benefited by GERP will help spread the word quickly. All this will contribute to the quick acceptance of GERP.

  3. I agree for the most part, but you can bet Google won’t call their apps anything boring like ERP or enterprise apps.

    Plus, I doubt they’ll provide much in the way of integration with other apps. With standards yes, but not with other-branded apps.

    I also wouldn’t expect a fast uptake, but they’ll creep along, like with Google Apps, improving the product and support, until they’re all over the place. Their target market will be Quick Books and Quicken customers, and customers who have jumped on line to Freshbooks.

    You mention search integration in mail, and this is a point that cannot be underestimated. The ability to find and combine/federate results across apps is the Holy Grail of the enterprise, and this will be the killer feature that puts Google over the top.

  4. I agree for the most part, but you can bet Google won’t call their apps anything boring like ERP or enterprise apps.

    Plus, I doubt they’ll provide much in the way of integration with other apps. With standards yes, but not with other-branded apps.

    I also wouldn’t expect a fast uptake, but they’ll creep along, like with Google Apps, improving the product and support, until they’re all over the place. Their target market will be Quick Books and Quicken customers, and customers who have jumped on line to Freshbooks.

    You mention search integration in mail, and this is a point that cannot be underestimated. The ability to find and combine/federate results across apps is the Holy Grail of the enterprise, and this will be the killer feature that puts Google over the top.

  5. I just don’t see this happening – Google is a media company, nothing more – but I’ve been wrong more than once.

  6. I just don’t see this happening – Google is a media company, nothing more – but I’ve been wrong more than once.

  7. Justin,

    I agree with you on Google. They are first and foremost a media company and they have at this point (with the recession, slow down in advertising revenue, possible upcoming competition with Microsoft/Yahoo and a decreasing stock price) other fish to fry:)

    Also On Demand ERP for SMB is a very competitive landscape with the likes of NetSuite, the upcoming SAP Business ByDesign and many other firms with a formidable mindshare and headstart.

    Finally most accountants are very careful about where they place their financial data. Brands like Intuit, Peachtree, Netsuite etc have spent years building up trust and even though Google is well known would be an unknown entity as far as accountants are concerned.

  8. Justin,

    I agree with you on Google. They are first and foremost a media company and they have at this point (with the recession, slow down in advertising revenue, possible upcoming competition with Microsoft/Yahoo and a decreasing stock price) other fish to fry:)

    Also On Demand ERP for SMB is a very competitive landscape with the likes of NetSuite, the upcoming SAP Business ByDesign and many other firms with a formidable mindshare and headstart.

    Finally most accountants are very careful about where they place their financial data. Brands like Intuit, Peachtree, Netsuite etc have spent years building up trust and even though Google is well known would be an unknown entity as far as accountants are concerned.

  9. What Google is now is not what they will be. If you were running Google, would you ignore the enterprise market? Would you use the massive infrastructure they have built only for commercial products? Would you bet the farm on ads?

    Sure SMB is crowded, but to say that NetSuite and SAP BBD have “formidable mindshare” is a bit of a stretch. BBD has been selling for less than a year, and NetSuite isn’t a juggernaut. That market is wide open, just the kind of market that would coalesce around a warm and fuzzy name like Google.

    As for accountants, wait a few years. As more Gen Y workers enter the workplace, storing data off premise won’t be such a big deal. Oh yeah, and Google’s brand won’t hurt either.

  10. What Google is now is not what they will be. If you were running Google, would you ignore the enterprise market? Would you use the massive infrastructure they have built only for commercial products? Would you bet the farm on ads?

    Sure SMB is crowded, but to say that NetSuite and SAP BBD have “formidable mindshare” is a bit of a stretch. BBD has been selling for less than a year, and NetSuite isn’t a juggernaut. That market is wide open, just the kind of market that would coalesce around a warm and fuzzy name like Google.

    As for accountants, wait a few years. As more Gen Y workers enter the workplace, storing data off premise won’t be such a big deal. Oh yeah, and Google’s brand won’t hurt either.

  11. Jake,

    Great conversation!

    Storing data off premise is a non factor nowadays. CPA’s and SMB accountants for the most part get the principal of off premise and either do or will in the future us an On Demand ERP solution.

    But the trust factor (in terms of Company reputation for that particular product or solution) is key in the SMB Enterprise ERP market.

    Oracle, SAP, SAGE, ACCPAC etc are dominant in Enterprise software because they have spent years in the trenches building up ERP solutions and reputation.
    Trust factor is what I consider important in terms of building mindshare amongst accountants or CPA’s.

    Perfect example of how difficult it is to break the SMB Enterprise ERP market is Microsoft. We would both agree that Microsoft has a warm and fuzzy 🙂 name and a recognizable brand just like Google right? Well Microsoft has been trying for years to get a significant foothold in the SMB ERP market with its various solutions like Greatplains et al. It is just recently (the last year or so) that they have had success in getting adoption of Microsoft Dynamics and seem to have after many years of trying..figured the SMB ERP market out.

    Google would be up agaisnt the same learning – adoption – trust curve and wont (if they even enter the market) just dominate on day one due to their name.

  12. Jake,

    Great conversation!

    Storing data off premise is a non factor nowadays. CPA’s and SMB accountants for the most part get the principal of off premise and either do or will in the future us an On Demand ERP solution.

    But the trust factor (in terms of Company reputation for that particular product or solution) is key in the SMB Enterprise ERP market.

    Oracle, SAP, SAGE, ACCPAC etc are dominant in Enterprise software because they have spent years in the trenches building up ERP solutions and reputation.
    Trust factor is what I consider important in terms of building mindshare amongst accountants or CPA’s.

    Perfect example of how difficult it is to break the SMB Enterprise ERP market is Microsoft. We would both agree that Microsoft has a warm and fuzzy 🙂 name and a recognizable brand just like Google right? Well Microsoft has been trying for years to get a significant foothold in the SMB ERP market with its various solutions like Greatplains et al. It is just recently (the last year or so) that they have had success in getting adoption of Microsoft Dynamics and seem to have after many years of trying..figured the SMB ERP market out.

    Google would be up agaisnt the same learning – adoption – trust curve and wont (if they even enter the market) just dominate on day one due to their name.

  13. Google is not Microsoft, and I didn’t say they’d dominate on day one. Like it or not people trust Google, even if IT doesn’t.

    Google takes an edge in approach, winning over departments first, essentially forcing the hand of IT.

    Google is not just a media company, and to underestimate their designs on the enterprise is a dangerous position.

    To be continued at Collaborate 08, I hope you’ll be there . . .

  14. Google is not Microsoft, and I didn’t say they’d dominate on day one. Like it or not people trust Google, even if IT doesn’t.

    Google takes an edge in approach, winning over departments first, essentially forcing the hand of IT.

    Google is not just a media company, and to underestimate their designs on the enterprise is a dangerous position.

    To be continued at Collaborate 08, I hope you’ll be there . . .

  15. Some years ago Microsoft was a consumer company, with a desktop operating system.

    It took on Lotus and Wordperfect with Excel and Word and we know how that ended.

    It’s made inroads into the server operating system market.

    It is having a good go at Oracle and IBM in the database market.

    It is an increasingly serious player in the the ERP/CRM market.

    With Microsoft Case study, do we really think Google will remain just a media company?

  16. Some years ago Microsoft was a consumer company, with a desktop operating system.

    It took on Lotus and Wordperfect with Excel and Word and we know how that ended.

    It’s made inroads into the server operating system market.

    It is having a good go at Oracle and IBM in the database market.

    It is an increasingly serious player in the the ERP/CRM market.

    With Microsoft Case study, do we really think Google will remain just a media company?

  17. @David: We (you, I and others) don’t think so, but Ameed and Justin (and others, I’m sure) do. The FaaS business model is maturing nicely, e.g. Amazon’s recent addition of fulfillment, so I think it’s logical to expect branching out by companies like Google with giant cloud computing power and designs on world domination, I mean double-digit growth.

  18. @David: We (you, I and others) don’t think so, but Ameed and Justin (and others, I’m sure) do. The FaaS business model is maturing nicely, e.g. Amazon’s recent addition of fulfillment, so I think it’s logical to expect branching out by companies like Google with giant cloud computing power and designs on world domination, I mean double-digit growth.

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