Do enterprise architects really need
to be reminded that they should "do their homework" before choosing an enterprise productivity, collaboration and content management application? When considering Google Apps as an enterprise-wide option, the surrounding fog of hype certainly seems to warrant a "yes". And The Burton Group, a research and consulting firm, has just served the official version of it. While simultaneously touting the advanced features of the MS Office suite and denigrating the capabilities of Google Docs and Spreadsheets
, the Burton Group's report
attempts to strike fear in the hearts of enterprise architects everywhere by suggesting that choosing Google Apps for an enterprise could be a "career-limiting move."
Careful choice of words there.
One has to wonder at the motivation behind such FUD. While it's difficult to speculate about the ultimate goal of the Google Apps product, it's safe to assume Google isn't using it to try to replace Microsoft Office -- at least not for the moment. At present, Google Apps is at best a stripped-down, Web-based alternative to Microsoft's dominant desktop productivity suite. Power users of MS Office are in no way willing to shift to Google Apps.
There is no denying that Microsoft Office is a more mature and full-featured productivity application. But with that being said, what do Microsoft users do when they need to collaborate on a document? Traditionally, colleagues simply attached drafts to emails and swapped them back and forth. Increasingly, however, they simply import their work into Google Apps and share it from a conveniently centralized location: the Web.
Google's strategy to focus on collaboration over advanced features has led to a new arms race in the productivity software market. The two technology behemoths are taking different paths toward a common goal of becoming the de-facto productivity suite for the new Web-enabled workforce.
Google hopes to find the sweet spot that exists where collaboration, ubiquitous access and minimal but useful features meet. They are way behind in the feature department, but what matters is the 10-20% of features that users actually use. On the other hand, Microsoft holds a dominant position with regard to feature set but is being forced to scramble to match the collaboration capabilities
that have been part of Google Apps from the beginning.
Who will win? Betting against Microsoft and their long track record of success and industry dominance is perhaps unwise. And yet, everyone loves an underdog -- if you'll permit a company with Google's market cap to be considered an underdog -- and one that delivers what we actually want: simpler document collaboration, storage and tracking.
If Google can pick up another 10% of the feature set, the battle will definitely be on.
In the mean time, The Burton Group counsels careful consideration and us early adopters get to arm wrestle with two imperfect products, and a possible career change ta boot.
Are you putting your career on the line with Google Apps? What's behind this decision? Do share