Google often boasts of the three million (and counting) businesses that have "gone Google". But what does this number really mean? Does "going Google" mean that the company has fully deployed Google Apps or that they have just deployed one or two products? Which industries are leading the charge and which one are lagging?
An in-depth study by White Stratus, a cloud computing solution provider, examines what these numbers actually mean in a recent white paper published on their website. I spoke with Tim Drury, CEO of White Stratus, about his findings.
How was the study conducted?
White Stratus, a Google Apps Reseller with offices in London, New York, and Sydney, interviewed 2,000 companies about their use of Google Apps. Each company selected had over 240 employees; this represents the medium and enterprise size business category for Google. The companies represented a cross industry sample.
1 in 5 companies use Google Apps
Of the 2,000 companies interviewed, 19.6% had deployed some form of Google Apps. Some of the companies had only deployed one or two applications (like Docs, Sites, Mail or Calendar) and some of the companies had deployed the entire suite. This data indicated that 1 in 5 companies are using some form of Google Apps.
Education sector takes the lead
The study also examined which companies had adopted Google Apps according to their industry. An unlikely front runner for business innovation was the Education sector, over 58% of educational institutions surveyed had deployed Google Apps. This is most likely due to the Google Apps for Education being heavily marketed towards Universities and the zero cost price tag.
The other key industry group with a 23% adoption rate was Real Estate, Professional/Technical Services, and Information/Media. Many users of Google Apps in the real estate sector are drawn the mobile productivity features and low prices. The adoption of the technical services and media companies are no surprise as they are professional workers who feel comfortable with new media.
A surprising finding within the Financial Industry
Unexpectedly, the study found that the Finance and Insurance industry had a 19.1% adoption rate, which is just about average. This type of industry is highly regulated because of the secure data they transmit electronically. In general, cloud computing has had a slower adoption in these industries because of compliance issues. Perhaps these companies are attracted to Google Apps for the small price tag.
Manufacturing and Health Care
The Manufacturing and Health Care industries had a 14.9% and 11.6% adoption rate respectively. This makes sense given the industries are both highly regulated and that healthcare has major privacy restraints. Even Google seems to backing away from taking the healthcare industry to the cloud. A recent visit to google.com/health shows a message that the service will be shut down on January 1, 2012.
Which apps are being deployed?
Google Apps is marketed as a messaging and productivity suite and includes Mail, Calendar, Docs, Sites, Video and Groups. However, when Google Apps is first setup only the Docs, Sites and Calendar are activated by default. Enabling Mail involves making DNS record changes to the organization's server.
The study by White Stratus found that 64% of companies that were using Google Apps were only using those services activated by default - Docs, Sites and Calendar. Some of these companies may be using the Docs and Sites collaboration features in conjunction with their existing Microsoft Exchange, Groupwise or Lotus Notes mail solutions.
Bigger companies are more likely to go Google
Another common myth is that Google Apps is for small business like startups and non-enterprise organizations. However, the study found that the larger companies, those with over 10,000 users, were the most likely to have deployed Google Apps. 31.2% of companies with over 10,000 employees had deployed all or some Google Apps, while only 18.5% of the smaller organizations (250-499) employees had deployed Apps. The larger companies are more likely to have additional resources to manage and fund a pilot program of Google Apps. They are also more sought after by Google and Google Apps Resellers because of the profit and publicity made in the sale of the licenses.
Google Apps deployments happen in stages
A deeper dive in to the 19.6% of companies that had deployed Google Apps showed that only a third (32.8%) of these had fully deployed the apps to the entire organization. Another 47.8% were still in the pilot stage, meaning a subset or the organization (most likely the IT department) was using one or more Google Apps on a regular basis. The final 19.4% of the organizations that had deployed Google Apps were no longer using the suite. Google Apps is very easy to setup, the time and financial resources are minimal. This probably results in a higher number of users who are in the pilot stage.
How will the numbers change?
White Stratus is committed to regularly updating this report. It will be interesting to see if the number of deployments and industry adoption patterns stay consistent or change. Google is certainly adding more and more enterprise security, compliance, and customization features to make the product more attractive. At the same time Microsoft has ramped up promotion of their cloud product - Microsoft 365.
There is no doubt about it; Google Apps is not just another consumer product, but a business solution that is being explored in at least one in five businesses. The White Stratus article is a helpful tool to examine the trends of Google Apps adoption in medium- and large-sized businesses.
Susan Cline is the Director of Training and Change Management at Google Apps Parter Ltech. She is also the author of several Google Apps courses on Lynda.com. Visit Susan at her website http://susancline.com/ or follow her on Twitter @GoogleAppsSusan.