In its trek into the business world, Google has picked up some unique partners along the way. Companies such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress.com are now offering Google Apps for Work, helping Google gain traction among SMBs.
As of Tuesday, October 28, Google has new partner that could help it broaden its enterprise clientele. According to a Google blog post by Amit Singh, the president of Google for Work, Google is partnering with PwC around its Google Apps for Work and Google Cloud Platform products.
PwC, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, is a global network of professional services firms offering its customers tax services, assurance services, and financial services, among other things. Its gross revenues for the 2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30, were $34 billion, rising 6% from the previous year.
The partnership will prove beneficial for both parties. According to Forrester analyst TJ Keitt, the key to understanding the partnership is in just how public the announcement was.
"The fact that Google and PwC collectively made such a big deal about it probably is indicative of, at least on the part of Google, a recognition that they need more public partners of the caliber of PwC to push into the larger deals that they see as open to them," Keitt said.
Looking at it from PwC's point of view, Keitt said, it's a sign that professional services firms are aware that they need to align themselves with cloud players like Google due to growing customer demand for cloud-based services and tools.
This announcement marks a shift for PwC, which has long worked with Google, but is known for servicing Fortune 500 companies that employ legacy software and systems. Early last year, PwC and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance around Microsoft Dynamics, and many PwC firms are known to be Microsoft Gold Certified Partners.
The Google partnership is likely to cause tension between PwC and Microsoft, especially with its focus on Google Apps for Work. As more and more enterprises make the move to the cloud, the competition to see who will emerge as the leading collaborative office suite continues to heat up between Microsoft's Office 365 and Google Apps for Work.
Google couldn't have hoped for better timing, as the announcement of its partnership with PwC went out on the heels of Microsoft's announcement to give unlimited OneDrive storage to certain Office 365 subscribers. Although, a Google spokesperson was clear that the partnership is not exclusive and both parties will continue to work with other companies.
It's difficult to define what PwC will mean as a partner for Google because, in some way, it must act as a partner to all the major technology providers. So, PwC will help its clients evaluate their needs and better facilitate a move to Google products. However, what's unique is how PwC will work with the Google Cloud Platform.
According to the blog post, as a partner PwC will assist its clients in creating industry-specific web and mobile apps and build on the Google Cloud Platform. The blog post specifically mentioned better both invoicing and talent management, as well as mentioning new security solutions built on the platform as well.
According to the blog post: "PwC will enhance its security monitoring practice with new solutions for clients built on Google Cloud Platform. By building custom algorithms on Google Cloud Platform, PwC will identify security threats, alert clients of potential attacks, and prevent or mitigate risks."
As a customer, PwC is deploying Google Apps for Work to 45,000 employees — 40,000 in the US and 5,000 in Australia. Currently, PwC employs roughly 195,000 people. According to the Google spokesperson, the goal is to begin deploying Google Apps for Work at PwC by the end of the year.
PwC's new identity as a customer and a partner is what Gartner's Tom Austin said should be focused on.
"This deal and new relationship reinforces our assessment that Google with Apps, Drive, and so forth is a legitimate, highly competitive enterprise provider," Austin said. "Just as interesting as PwC's decision to move 45,000 employees to Google's cloud office suite is their intent to deliver vertical solutions incorporating and exploiting those Google tools."
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.