- Communications and collaboration-as-a-service strategies should include the option of Google as well as Microsoft and Cisco. Many service providers support Microsoft Lync and increasing numbers support Office 365, but few in Europe offer Google Apps.
- For service providers, the need to add value on top of application providers (Google, Microsoft, whoever) is critical. This could mean SIP trunking, QoS on video, application performance SLAs, and even training and support; for those integrators with the IT skills customization, it could also mean workspace management and application business process integration.
Consider the inroads Microsoft has made into the communications and collaboration market in just a few years, starting from a position of strength in e-mail. Google is not there yet, but it is gaining ground, as shown by its recent large enterprise win in Spain.
Spanish financial group BBVA is adopting Google’s cloud-based collaboration and communication suite, Google Apps for Business. Over 35,000 BBVA workers in Spain will initially use the productivity tools integrated into the Google Apps suite, including: Gmail with Google Chat, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Sites and Google Video. By year-end, BBVA expects to migrate 110,000 employees in over 26 countries to Google Apps. BBVA’s new global intranet will adopt Google’s collaboration tools, changing it from a corporate communications and process management site to a place where all employees will be able to share, contribute and manage knowledge globally. In addition, BBVA will create a social network to improve communication and explore new ways of working.
When I pointed this win out to our collaboration guru Brad Shimmin, he had an interesting reaction: “Those are some pretty hefty numbers. Still, these kinds of wins continuously surprise me, given Google is lacking the administration, security and customization options typically found in established premises-based collaboration solutions. I guess it points to a change in attitude toward software as a service where such services really do not need to play by the same rules as in-house software.”
That’s a good point, but for enterprises, with budgets staying flat or being cut, it is as much about saving cash as delivering new ways of communication. Spain is one of the hardest hit economies in Europe and companies are feeling the pressure. If Google delivers well for BBVA, it has a chance to grow its business there. Similarly, if Google starts to add pay-per-use subscription plans, it would be able to improve further on that cost edge.