Recently I presented at a breakfast program put on by a local Microsoft reseller. My role was to give an overview of cloud computing and specifically articulate the value that SaaS applications can bring to an organization in terms of allowing them to focus on their core business and ignore technology. I’ve embedded the presentation below the for reader’s reference:

Anyhow – as part of this session I was offered some free licenses to BPOS, Microsoft’s on-demand business productivity suite. One of the things that would have come with this was the ability to use hosted exchange and try Microsoft’s hosted email offering. I thought about the offer, bear in mind that I’ve been using Google apps for a few years now – I’m pretty attached to the Gmail UI, but thought that perhaps it’s worth giving BPOS a crack.

And then I remembered, mail is only one of the things that keeps me connected with Google.

I live in Google apps – all my documents, spreadsheets and calendars are there. (Admittedly not so much with presentations which are split roughly 50/50 between PowerPoint and Sliderocket). I also use Zoho, but my use-case for Zoho is more of a sync store – all of my emails are automatically replicated within Zoho mail, Google remains my primary “front-end” for this stuff. And it dawned on me just how utterly sticky Gmail is for Google apps users – sure I could move my email to another provider, but with all of my docs in Google, I’d just be getting myself a whole bunch of headaches.

Obviously this is an utterly obvious fact, but one which makes Google approach towards enterprise sales all the more interesting. You see I’ve been following Google’s success with enterprise for a number of years now – we’re often hearing about how well they are going selling into the tertiary education sector and, to a lesser extent, into enterprise. I’ve long contended that, at least within the for-profit sector, Google’s successes have mainly been around replacement of infrastructure – many of the large organization that I know of who have switched to Google apps are primarily using Gmail as a replacement for Microsoft exchange – and continue to use their front-end client of choice.

While Google would love to see these users broaden their utilization of the suite, that is yet to happen. But… I wonder what it means once that broadening starts to occur. As I mentioned at the start of this post – Google apps has become incredibly sticky for me, mainly due to the fact that, at least for office productivity, it is becoming something of a suite – all my mail, calendar and most of my document needs are met by one integrated account – once Google gains that sort of embeddedness with users within a large organization, the war will almost be over, and that’s something that’s got to have Redmond very, very worried.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Kinda agree with you here but really I think Gmails biggest protector is Gmail.

    I’d say the majority of people who have used Gmails conversation style of displaying email would find it horrible to go back to the old way of managing email. Thats what keeps it sticky..

  • For me personally, Gmail is the sticky factor. I also have a BPOS account which is great for some things, but for me I can’t live without the Gmail interface.

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