This is definitely one of the riskier posts I’ve written. I’ve been a Google Apps customer for a couple of years, and I’ve even done consulting work for Google.
But Google has a right to know this information, and so do their channel sales partners, because it will serve them well, and enable them to help their customers. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, I’m going to attempt to describe why Google Apps still loses deals, even when selling to big enterprise companies that are absolutely fed up with Microsoft.
- 1. Government agencies still have serious security concerns: It’s an open secret. There have been a series of well-known Google Apps deployments in both the government sector and the corporate sector that have been terminated early. The government deals have largely fallen apart over security concerns, but for every high-level government deal that Google loses, they seem to win a smaller one.
- 2. Microsoft is starting to really care about Google Apps competitor Skydrive: From 2007 to 2011, Microsoft’s SkyDrive product was under-promoted and under-supported. About three months ago, that changed. They’re branding it as a cross between Google Apps & DropBox, and they’ve combined some of the best features of both, along with the Microsoft Office interface that has been popular since, well, before the Internet.
- 3. Most partner websites stink: With a few exceptions, there aren’t many Google Apps partners that have websites that excel at content marketing, which is exactly what prospective Google Apps customers need. One that seems to get the picture that robust resource centers and marketing automation are “table stakes”: Appirio.
- 4. Google’s lack of commitment to uptime, at least until recently: It’s 2012. Having 99.9% uptime isn’t really anything to be proud of. As an IT admin, if you told me that my company will not have access to their email, calendar, or documents three hours per year, during the work day, I wouldn’t be too impressed.
In recent months, Google has made strides against this by raising the bar to a 99.99% uptime agreement - but they do limit their liability to a 15-day credit, and they haven’t put this to the forefront of their messaging. Also, their track record has been, well, only okay. In 2010, Gmail maintained uptime of 99.984%, which is similar to phone lines. About a year ago, Google also dropped the “scheduled maintenance clause” from its service level agreement (SLA), and Microsoft and Salesforce quickly followed suit.
- 5. Lack of partner-driven video case studies: It’s 2012. Nothing helps a customer own a very tough “change concept” (i.e. doing a multi-million dollar Google Apps deal) like seeing other companies in their industry do the same thing, and tackle all of the complex organizational change management. Try finding some Google video case studies on customer success that include a featured partner. It’s tough. And it doesn’t build a lot of buy-in for Google’s sales prospects in their partner-driven ecosystem.