Thursday, July 31, 2008

What is next for Google? (Google in the Enterprise)

Everybody keeps asking “Where Does Google Go Next?” Google is working on many fronts. There are very high profile initiatives such as “Open Social” for interoperability between various Social Networks, and “Android” for mobile phones. For me because of my interest in enterprise software, a more appropriate question will be “What is Google’s Enterprise Story?” Google is primarily about online ad leverage. But, surprisingly, Google has had limited penetration in the Enterprise ad revenue. Currently, Google’s enterprise offering is primarily limited to Universal Search or Search Appliance and Google Apps (check this out at In fact, Google’s enterprise strategy is not to embark on a major standalone development and instead develop enterprise solution leveraging Google’s core consumer products such as Google Search and Google Apps. Google’s Enterprise Group’s explicit charter is to extend Google’s consumer applications into enterprise space. Google has also leveraged its consumer offerings in the recently announced integration between and Google Apps. In this case Google Apps can be seamlessly used with SalesForce. This integration is now being extended to Salesforce’s and Cloud Computing initiatives.

Google’s narrow definition of enterprise solution currently only includes the following:
1. Site search for visitors to the enterprise website
2. Universal Search (using Google Appliance)
3. Google Apps
4. Google Geospatial Solutions based on Google’s consumer products such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google SketchUp Pro

However, there are significant opportunities for Google if Google expands its vision for the enterprise. For example, Google can boost online ad leverage by targeting traditional enterprise applications such as sourcing, procurement, and a variety of other e-commerce opportunities.

According to Gartner Google currently executes less than 1% of e-commerce traffic (Google Checkout). But, if Google can have the visibility to enterprise financial transactions such as buying and selling between enterprises (even if those transactions are not taking place using Google Checkout), they can sell a lot of targeted ads to enterprises that are selling to other enterprises. With the rapid adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) approach by the enterprises, and Google’s entry into the enterprise application space is now a lot easier. Moreover, to accelerate the entry into the enterprise space Google may consider acquiring one of the enterprise SaaS companies such as Ketera (my previous employer), Reardon Commerce or other competitors. Since Google Search is used by individuals for learning purposes, there are companies in the HCMs arena where Google can potentially benefit (increased ad revenue?) by partnering or acquiring companies such as Saba (another previous employer), SumTotal, Success Factors, or other Learning Management vendors.

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