I recently published the Googrilla in the Midst which posits that the influence and impact of Google Apps is largely underappreciated and untapped by the UC community. We are reasonably confident that the cloud in general, and Google Apps specifically, will continue to grow. We also are sure that UC and VoIP have a bright future and hosted UC will continue to grow rapidly.
A few additional thoughts:
Is Google Apps real or an experiment?
Google has a short attention span and is known to kill-off products without much warning. It’s one of the big risks of betting on a cloud services in general (see the Cloud Dissipation Problem). However, I don’t think there’s much risk of Google Apps disappearing anytime soon. Here’s just a quick list of reasons why.
- Google Apps has momentum
- Google Apps has unique differentiators (multi-user collaboration)
- Google Apps has been monetized
- Google Apps competes (effectively) with Microsoft and weakens Microsoft’s dominance/monopoly with Office (Google seems to like things that threaten Microsoft).
- Google Apps is nearly identical to GMail which helps Google improve its target advertising.
- Google Apps is helping Google drive both a channel and penetration of its Android OS.
- The marketplace opportunity for Google Apps is fueling the Google Ecosystem lifting multiple Google Services from YouTube to Android.
The only concern is that Google Apps does not appear to directly drive advertising revenue. Gmail and its free services do, but the paid versions of Google Apps do not. However, as noted in 5 above, the incremental cost from its free editions are at least partially covered by Apps’ annual service and support fees. That incremental cost of Google Apps vs. its benefits is probably very acceptable.
Also, I wanted to share a few bits that came to me after my post regarding UC moving-in on Apps:
William Blair & Company, a global investment firm, is bullish on BroadSoft and categories BSFT as “Outperform” with “Aggressive Growth.” Here’s some snippets from their analysis:
“Google and BroadSoft—comprising cloud office apps, hosted PBX and contact center, mobility, and cloud business apps (CRM, ERP, etc.) innately built on cloud infrastructure from the start is an effective way to deliver value for end-customers and fend off direct competition from traditional on-premise PBX vendors and Microsoft Lync”
“An innovative offshoot born from an original Google Apps’ reseller (Viwo), gUnify is working with the Broadsoft-based MSP, Simple Signal, to exchange sales leads in a joint go-to-market arrangement. GUnify developed a cloud plug-in using Google and BroadWorks APIs to tie the two together.”
“There are more than 5 million Google Apps users to date and Google is determinedly carving up considerable share in a cloud office market, which is expected to reach 695 million users by 2022 from 50 million today, according to Gartner.”
While this research largely agrees with my prior post, what’s surprises me is a case of the tail wagging the dog. BroadSoft’s stock is getting attention not because of its inherent solution, but because of its APIs that enable customers (Simple Signal) to leverage solutions from ISVs (gUnify). According to gUnify, which I met with at the UC Summit, they now have some 20 BroadSoft providers inquiring about partnership opportunities.
In the original post, I mentioned several enterprise UC companies that are embracing Google Apps, but missed AVST which already targets organizations constrained by poor UC interoperability. AVST addresses this on many levels – including Google Apps integration. AVST CX-E solution had supported Google Apps/Gmail messaging for years, but with release 8.5 support was expanded to include calendaring, presence, and contacts as well. Additionally, calendar events can automate CX-E availability changes. For example, if you have a meeting from 10 to 11 am in your Google Calendar, CX-E can see that and automatically set your Availability to “In a Meeting” during that time period. Optionally, it also informs callers, “Dave Michels is in a meeting and will be back at 11 am.”
These new features, combined with AVST’s enterprise customer base and interoperability with just about every major UC platform (and native integration with NEC and Aastra) makes Google Apps integration potentially as simple as a software upgrade.
I met with a firm called CCNA in Australia at the recent UC Summit. This is a Cisco HCS provider that is targeting education and writing their own integration to Google Apps. I instinctively get the BroadSoft Google Apps play that gUnify is pushing (mentioned in original post) because BroadSoft and Google Apps both realize demand from SMBs. But Cisco HCS tends to target 200+ and above implementations. However, as CCNA (clever Cisco innuendo in the name) is targeting higher-education. Education in general, and especially higher-ed is a strong sector for Google Apps adoption.