Here's a riddle for you: Why is Google rebranding of its Enterprise business?
Last night, Google announced the division that sells Google Drive and Gmail, among other services, is changing its name to Google for Work.
The announcement left a large number of observers underwhelmed. But the long-term vision behind the move may cause a lot of vendors concern about their future in a world where Google is seriously targeting the small business space.
What's in a Name?
The June launch of the Drive for Work offered a combination of Google apps and Google Drive with added security and reporting features along with unlimited storage for $10 per user per month. Now Google for Work is offering the full arsenal, packaged to make it attractive to small or even micro enterprises that are trying to cut back on their IT spend.
In fact from here on, all products under the Google for Work umbrella will have the Google for Work moniker added to the end of their names. So we can no longer talk about Gmail, but rather Gmail for Work. And Google made no bones about where it’s going with Google for Work, noting, "This is one of the big growth opportunities for Google and this kind of branding, the investments that we're making in the product, reflects some of that," said Amit Singh, president of Google for Work."
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt added in a post that appeared on the new Google for Work blog that the concept is based on the belief that work should be meaningful and that technology should help make it easier — not just something to help get things done.
According to Singh, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies have already bought into that vision in the US and are using a paid enterprise product from Google. In addition, he said 30 million students, teachers and administrators are using Google Apps for Education.
However, he didn’t break that down any further into what services were attracting the interest of enterprises, nor did he explain how much of Google’s enterprise business was generated by big company accounts. It’s clear, though, that is about chasing the small business sector. Schmidt added that the name change:
Is about empowering anyone, whether they're a developer with an idea in their basement or a baker with a better cupcake or a company with thousands of employees, to have an impact. We never set out to create a traditional 'enterprise' business— we wanted to create a new way of doing work."
Cloud Computing Matures?
Google entered the consumer technology 10 years ago, starting off with 25 employees and growing to the current gorilla with thousands of employees all over the world. It started off with search and email, but now offers a substantial cloud platform, maps, android and Chromebooks.
While there are no upgrades, or new releases associated with the name change, it does seem to represent a new mindset about the way workers compute. Singh himself pointed out that this is more than a name change, but a change in the way “we launch products and communicate new features."
One of the other real changes comes in the way enterprises both large and small are starting to think of cloud computing. Earlier this year in an interview with CMSWire, Katharine Frase, the Chief Technology Officer with IBM’s Public Sector business, pointed out that people will stop referring to cloud computing as such and simply talk about computing. In addition, we will no longer make distinctions about how apps are delivered or used.
For Google, delivering the apps through the cloud is the way it does computing and the change of name underlines the concept that Google, the cloud and work are all intertwined. Schmidt adds:
Cloud computing, once a new idea, is abundantly available, and collaboration is possible across offices, cities, countries and continents. Ideas can go from prototype to development to launch in a matter of days. Working from a computer, tablet or phone is no longer just a trend — it’s a reality."
It could also be argued that the change of name represents a change in strategy and that Google is now going after small companies too to make up for the fact that no matter what anyone says, Microsoft is still the dominant software vendor to business. It also raises the idea that Google should have gone after the small business market first, left the enterprise market until after it succeeded there and that Google Enterprise was a misnomer all along.