The Google Enterprise Strategy Starts with Google Wave
Sources inside Google are telling me that 2010 is really the ‘Year of the Enterprise’. For a company better known for its’ consumer products, this is a major shift in strategy. They’ve been steadily laying the technology foundation for the enterprise blitzkrieg and expect to start profiting from it next year. Yes, Google Docs has yet to make a huge splash, but the company is betting Google Wave will beachhead the company’s products into the enterprise.
At the Gartner Symposium this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt sat down with CNET for an Interview. During the interview Schmidt said; "it’s the next big billion-dollar opportunity after our display (ad) business." Schmidt, a Novell and Sun veteran, knows all too well the amount of wealth creation that can be created selling to enterprise customers.
I’ve looked at Wave from a number of angles and determined the application has enterprise capable legs. The issue today however is that Wave does not have any killer applications associated with it that will drive massive enterprise adoption (I know it’s still in Beta). Moreover, most of the current Wave Robots and Gadgets are consumer focused (with some exceptions – notably SAP) which I believe is a big mistake.
Google must carve Wave into Enterprise and Consumer editions then support each with their own ecosystems. As an enterprise customer, I don’t want to see Name that Beer Robots or Solitaire Gadgets. Show me robots that translate my technical documentation into foreign languages on the fly and Predictive Market Gadgets that leverage the wisdom of the corporation for answers to business issues.
Google must cater to each segment despite Schmidt’s claim that consumer and enterprise products are converging. I call hogwash. Business and social issues are different and the value to each segment needs to be packaged correctly.
Schmidt can start by following a methodology that in retrospect made Microsoft incredibly successful. Those close to Bill Gates and Steve Balmer know that they have always promoted the fact that Microsoft became successful because they focused on making other businesses rich. Build a platform (Windows and SharePoint) that makes it easy for others to build applications and programs that make companies a lot of money.
Wave can and should be that platform. Yet Google needs to cater to enterprise developers and build a Value Added Reseller channel that can deliver Wave into the corporation. For that, Wave needs to build mission critical enterprise applications that solve real business issues. A few high level examples:
- A healthcare Wave that easily fosters collaboration between Doctors, patients, and insurance companies.
- A legal Wave that makes it easy for attorneys to share discovery, case notes, case law, and research.
- An innovation Wave that makes it easy to build new products within the corporation yet extends into the supplier base for input on prices, materials and suggestions.
These are but a few of the potential use cases for the enterprise. At the same time, Google needs to make using a Wave easier by creating specific solutions that start the viral effect. How about an expense report Wave? Travel requests? A marketing process workflow approval Wave?
But like Salesforce’s App Exchange, Google must create an enterprise repository for innovative developers, companies and entrepreneurs to build solutions that will potentially make them wealthy. It must look like a business exchange and exclude consumer oriented applications.
The thing that makes Wave fascinating is that it’s highly extendable and open source. There’s little barrier to entry and for the most part easy to use. This is why most organizations will try it. Whether it sticks or not entirely depends on the strategic moves Google makes during the next 12 months. They need to have the confidence to make decisions that depart from the Google consumer status quo.
Think about Bill and Steve’s philosophy on making other people money and build a Wave platform – wealth building ecosystem. This will take months and cost millions to develop. But in return will make Google billions.