Project Management

Here are the reasons you can trust Google in business

Susan Cline offers 10 good reasons why you might want to give Google the benefit of the doubt if you're coming from the enterprise side of the street.

Justin James recently wrote an article about why big companies might want to be wary of Google. Although I agree with some of his points, I'm going to take another swing at it and address each of his concerns. Here are 10 good reasons why you might want to give Google the benefit of the doubt if you're coming from the enterprise side of the street.

This post was originally published in the 10 Things Blog in November 2011.

1: Customer support is up to par

Let's look at a few of the other companies that are supporting your enterprise. Perhaps your company works with Dell, Apple, HP, EMC, or software vendors like IBM/Lotus or Microsoft. All these companies have limited baseline-level support and offer extended service (or service through their implementation partners, at an upcharge). Google Apps now has 24/7 phone support for all business customers. The last time I called (4 p.m. on a weekday), I got a live person on the phone in 60 seconds to its Canadian help center.

2: Privacy issues are no worse than with other vendors

This is one of those moments where you have to ask yourself: How do our other software vendors (Microsoft, IBM/Lotus, etc.) fare on privacy? Microsoft's Hotmail privacy breach in 2010 made international news.

3: Information about you isn't at greater risk

Well, there are a few roads you can go down, in terms of enterprise software, that can be used at the desktop level. You can pay for non-cloud software (e.g., Microsoft Office) that costs 10 times as much. Or you can use a competitor's less expensive offering and run the same risk of its data being subpoenaed by the government. In this case, Google is no greater risk than Microsoft and its ilk.

4: Products are yanked only when they're unnecessary

When was the last time an essential product was removed or disabled from your Google Apps? The most recent products that have been pulled from Google are probably ones you have never even heard of: Aardvak, FastFlip, and Google Pack. Often, Google will yank a product because the functionality exists in one of its other products.

5: Quality is continually improving

In case you haven't had time to read the 13,238 forum posts in the Office365 "Email & Calendar with Exchange" forum, you can rest assured that the competition is in the same boat as Google. It is difficult to re-create the functionality of a desktop client in a Web browser. However, Google has much more experience building cloud apps than its competitors.

6: Google listens and responds to real-world users

The Google of 2009 did have minimal contact with users. But in the last nine months, especially, it has made business-class support and sales resources easily available. A couple of phone calls will show that its "availability" is just about the same as the competition. Recently, Google has also been proactive about listening to its customers through Twitter, user groups, and surveys. When administrative assistants spoke out about the lack of the read receipt functionality and the confusing architecture of conversations, Google promptly changed the product.

7: Google Apps has an SLA

First off, Google Apps had the lowest unscheduled downtime rate in the industry in 2010. Second, there are SLAs, and then there are SLAs. If you look over the service level agreement, it's pretty clear that if quality dips below 99% uptime, customers are looking at a credit of 7% to 15%, per month. If you have 200 users ($1k/month), that means that a 432-minute outage (seven hours total for more than 5% of your users) gives you a refund of $70. Is this worth it? Probably not. But technically speaking, it does have a policy, and downtime is measured by a 5% user error rate.

8: New features are aimed at business users

A quick look at Google Apps new feature list shows that most of the key features being pushed to the enterprise, like robust mail storage, Blackberry Exchange Server integration, Postini, and Gmail advertisement disablement, are clearly tailored to the needs of enterprise users. In fact, Google Apps for Business was created especially for the needs of business users.

9: Google has built a loyal following

As far as $29B corporations go, it's difficult to measure the amount of TLC it allocates to each individual customer. A search of Microsoft's 2010 annual report yielded zero results for "TLC," as well.

The results here are, well, totally inconclusive. Neither Google nor its competition (Microsoft, Lotus) uses a specific NetPromoter score for its desktop line of products. But a 2006 study stated that Google, as a whole (as well as Apple and Symantec), has the most loyal users in tech.

10: Google caters to business expectations

See #7 and #8. Justin argued that Google caters to consumers rather than to businesses. That statement is correct for 2010, but in 2011, things have changed.

Additional reading

About

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 @GoogleAppsSusa...

15 comments
spglmn
spglmn

Actually, I think you missed a significant point. Google's OS is a Linux-based system, but with some very significant modifications. The biggest one is that user data is NOT stored on a single server; it's stored across multiple servers. So even if a hacker were able to compromise *A* server, that wouldn't give them access to very much of your users' data. They'd have scraps; bits and pieces of information, that are likely pretty useless on their own. To that end, their solution may actually be MORE secure than hosting it on your own in-house server. As for how that compares to Office 365, I don't really know.

spdragoo
spdragoo

So we have an article praising the capabilities of Google for enterprise users??? by a higher-level administrator at one of GoogleApps??? partners. Points for disclosing it, but not too many. As for the claims: 1. Customer support is [b]extremely[/b] important, more so for enterprise than even for consumer users. However, since many tech companies offer 24/7 service, Google would have to show similar or superior levels of service. A single call, unfortunately, could be the [u]exception[/u] rather than the rule. Call metrics from their support center would be more useful to compare to other companies. 2. Privacy issues are also [b]extremely[/b] important. However, most enterprise users are [b]not[/b] using Hotmail to meet their enterprise email needs. In fact, most enterprise users aren???t permitted to use the ???free??? email providers for business-related emails, simply because of data privacy issues. So, in this case, saying that Gmail is no worse than Hotmail is a point [u]against[/u] its potential for enterprise use. 3. Seriously? There are numerous desktop applications in use in enterprise environments, which require either a manual installation at each desktop or a network ???push??? to install it from a single disc. No matter the method, however, the government cannot subpoena Microsoft, for example, to gain access to any records or files generated by the copies of Microsoft Office that your company purchased from Microsoft, [b]because Microsoft doesn???t have that data stored anywhere[/b]. If the government wants your data, they have to subpoena [b]you[/b], not the software provider. The difference is, government subpoenas only carry weight in the country they???re issued in (i.e. it???s much harder for the Federal government to subpoena a bank located in the Cayman Islands, versus a bank located in Newark, NJ). More importantly, your company???s data could end up being picked up in a blanket subpoena of your cloud provider, simply because of ???guilt by association???; something that [u]cannot[/u] happen if you aren???t using a cloud provider. 4. Actually, from previous blogs seen on this site, Google hasn???t just been pulling apps because of duplicated functionality, but also pulling apps that weren???t ???popular???. Which also illustrates another key difference between ???traditional??? and ???cloud??? software: with traditional software, even if the publisher goes out of business, let alone discontinues development and/or direct support for the software, you still have 100% use of the software. Sure, as new OS versions come out you start having a higher risk of the older app not being transferable, & you have to invest more of the corporation???s own time & assets providing in-house support for it, but if it meets your needs then you???re also not spending time & money constantly learning new apps. In contrast, when a cloud app is pulled, that???s it: no more functionality, & sometime no more data (unless you did local backups). The old app may have met your needs [u]perfectly[/u], but because the provider decided to remove it you???re now forced to spend time & money frantically scrambling for a replacement. 5. When you start at the bottom, your only options are to remain there or start climbing out. However, considering that despite their more recent changes, I think [u]Yahoo Mail[/u] has a much better interface than Gmail, apparently Google isn???t using its ???greater experience??? as well as it should be. 6. Again, that???s pretty much standard for [u]any[/u] company. This is like the reverse of the old Avis commercials, only Google is the one saying, ???We try hard???.. 7. See #6 for general response. As for the specifics of the SLA, we would need to see it compared to other comparable SLAs for a true comparison. 8. So, in other words, a potential enterprise customer is going to say, ???You weren???t aiming your apps at us before; what has changed since then, & are the changes significant enough for me to take the time to even consider them now???? Just because Google has said they???re going to target enterprise users more in the future doesn???t mean a) that they???ll stick with that, or b) that they???ll be good at understanding the needs of enterprise users. They may end up just like all of the other software providers: developing a product the way they want to, then making the Marketing Department figure out how to convince the enterprise customers that what the customers want isn???t really what they want or need, but that they???ll want Google???s product instead. 9. There???s loyalty because the product truly is good, & then there???s blind loyalty: ???I???m buying a Ford/Chevy/Chrysler because my daddy only bought them???; ???I???ll only buy Macs because Steve Jobs was awesome, dude!???; ???I???ll only buy PCs with Intel CPUs because the higher cost [u]must[/u] mean they???re better than AMD???; ???I???m going to jump off of this cliff because all of the other lemmings around me are doing it too!??? And let???s face it: a study from 5 years ago is showing Google???s support among [b]consumer[/b] customers, not business customers. Maybe if the study was from 2010 or this year, then it might be more relevant. 10. Say, rather, that they???ve [b]started[/b] to cater to business customers for [b]some[/b] of their apps. However, this means they???re way behind, as their competitors have been developing apps for business customers for years now.

VTSkiBum
VTSkiBum

Tried switching over to Google Apps as an alternative to either upgrading an exchange server or moving everything to a hosted/shared exchange solution. I was lead by Goggle to believe that their Outlook Sync program would allow users to continue using Outlook and their phones as they had been accustomed to. Two months later, after countless hours with tech support, ended up moving to hosted exchange solution since many emails were either lost or altered by the Outlook Sync program in a business context which is completely unacceptable. They ended up offering an opportunity to make suggestions to the programers for new sync features, and also refused to refund the yearly fee paid when shown that their product did not work as advertized. Their misrepresentations as to what the Outlook sync program did, and surprising unresponsiveness when being showed specific reproducable bugs in a business environment has me from that point forward telling everyone to stay away from it and to stick with MS for their email, contact and calendar solutions. The experience was so bad and responses so poor that I serously doubt I will ever give Google Apps another chance.

AMS-Ray
AMS-Ray

Okay, granted there are few hard facts here. But Susan said she had called at 4pm and had a reasonable response. We've been using Google Apps (premium and business) for two years now. I can attest to a world of difference between 2010 Google support for Apps customers and 2011 Google support for Apps customers. We have not required many calls to Google support over this time, but as off this year I have seen 24/7 support. I've called at 11pm and got someone in less than 5 minutes who was capable of understanding my problem and even giving me instructions on how to resolve it. Within the last month I have seen Googler Vic Gundotra respond in Google+ to an individual user who posted a complaint about a Google service and gave him the name and contact information of someone at Google who would handle it for him. Now on to reliability. After starting Google Apps, we were trying Office 365 when that came out, because we still use Microsoft Office products a lot, but wanted the ease of collaboration that a cloud service should provide. Since we started with Google Apps, our downtime can be measured in MINUTES. 145 minutes to be exact. Compare that to the multiple massive failures of Office 365. I still like many Microsoft products, we use Windows on all our workstations, Server 2008 R2 on our servers, and many of us use Microsoft Office Suite because for some uses it cannot be equaled. But I'm not going to use an inferior product just because I like the brand.

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

...for posting a "Ten" article that is nothing more than a sales-schpeel from a GoogleApps partner. This should have been a "Resource of the Day" sort of thing and not a headline-worthy item for one of the digests.

rdavidson
rdavidson

Sorry, but that read like a playground fight in elementary school. "Oh yeah, well, my sister's no fatter than your sister!" To make a justification based on being "no greater risk" than the competitor is quite weak.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

to make money out of me. I trust google to use me to their best advantage, I trust google to put their own interests before mine. Now show me where our interests coincide, and given I agree that they do, I'll trust them that much. When a salesman says don't worry you can trust me, put your wallet back in your pocket and walk away.

viveka
viveka

Ok. I agree you are from Google, so I will cut you some slack. but. 1. SLAs. Customer support at 4:00PM weekday? Try between 10PM to 6:00 AM weekdays or weeknights. And please let me know the two key metrics - average handling time, and ratio of calls closed closed first time to total calls. 2. No 8. If the apps are targeted for business should they not so better for business? 3. And finally #10. Just a rounding error?

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Would you, Susan, be so daring as to change all references to "Google" to "Microsoft"? Funny how many in the "tech" world dismiss Microsoft, but flock to Google, even when Microsoft has the superior product in many cases.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

"Assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

nhchoy
nhchoy

Hmmm, so what's your points? Just showing off what everybody already know? The most important point to customer is CHOICE. There are good, average and bad (& depends on purpose of use) Microsoft/Google products so clear headed people would not judge the whole company because he/she likes or dislikes certain product of the company. The frustrating part about single-super-power-company like MS is every time we see serious competition, they would try to crush it when feel threatened. It is very satisfying to see, finally, somebody like Google and Firefox is able to put up a close fight, which in the end benefit us. And what's wrong with Susan expressing her opinion on Google's strength?

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

initial financing came from the Security State (that goes double for those in the 'data-harvesting' dodge).

spdragoo
spdragoo

but instead just an advertising message? Even if she wasn't going for a straight advertisement for Google, the way to present a message of, "Hey, this is primarily my opinion of the software, but here's some evidence that I think makes a good case for it." My main points were: -- Google's "claims to fame" sound no worse, but no better, than the existing players in the field, & are apparently based on brand-name "loyalty" at best, or crass appeals to fanboi-ism at worst. -- For the areas that Google supposedly provided superior service, no evidence was put forth (& again, a single call to tech support is [b]not[/b] sufficient evidence to say that [b]any[/b] company's support staff is the best out there). -- No information was provided as to how Google's past [u]consumer[/u] software experience will be able to be translated into a superior [u]enterprise[/u] software experience...particularly since they're the new company in town. Even if they could somehow show 5 years of experience developing enterprise apps, that still pales compared to the big boys out there... and while it may not sound "fair", it means that Google would have to come up with products that are [u]significantly[/u] superior to the other offerings -- not just for price points, but for functionality & support -- in order to counteract that lack of experience. I mean, think about it: BMW has a reputation for making well-engineered (albeit expensive) cars, & they have decades (if not a century) of experience at it... but that doesn't mean they could suddenly decide to enter the PC tablet market & expect that "brand loyalty" will automatically get them customers. BMW doesn't make computers, so despite their proven track record at building cars, a BMW PC would have to be designed from scratch. That's the situation Google's entering now, having to design software for a different type of customer than they've dealt with in the past, one with different needs & expectations. I don't think we've seen enough evidence yet to show that they're on par with the other companies out there.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

data they harvest in any way I am not explicitly excepted from.... I don't trust them not to take any advantage of any loop holes in terms of what I've allowed. I don't trust them not to state conditions in an ambigious fashion, creating loopholes they can exploit. Buyer beware is always true, when what you are buying is "free", it's a near certainty.