Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

Summary: I've spent some time the last couple of days trying to ferret out whether the rumored hook up between Salesforce.com and Google for its applications is hype or real.

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I've spent some time the last couple of days trying to ferret out whether the rumored hook up between Salesforce.com and Google for its applications is hype or real. I'm no closer to knowing than anyone else. I did speak with Mike Arrington on this who claims to have a very good source. He also claims this is a prelude for Google making a move on Salesforce.com. Josh Greenbaum thinks that it's stuff and nonsense. I can't see the logic in the rumor and said as much to Mike. A 'back to basics' review makes me even more skeptical.

Josh talks about Google's ToS, something I've criticized roundly in the past. If you're a business buyer then stuff like this matters. If what I have noted in regard to 'secure code' is indicative of concerns by developers, then this takes on greater poignancy. Let's also remember that SFdC seems to be tracking upwards inside the enterprise food chain where ToS matter.

The contrary point of view is that at least some segment of business will find a SFdC/Google partnership attractive. At least that's the view of one commenter to Josh's post who says:

We use Google Apps and Salesforce.com extensively.

If I can at a minimum have the features of the Salesforce.com Outlook/Office Edition, inside my Google Apps this would be tremendous for my business' productivity. I tend to disagree a little with your article - depending on exactly how sfdc integrates with Google Apps. But I am extremely excited about the prospects.

This worries me at several levels. TechCrunch uses Google Sites as evidence that this makes sense. If that's the case then enterprise buyers have just become a whole lot dumber. In today's compliance conscious climate I somehow doubt that. No-one with any sense of due diligence is going to use Sites. It's an appalling implementation by any standards.  There's more.

I've used GoogleDocs and Spreadsheet for some time. While they provide reasonable business utility, they're not exactly feature rich or, for that matter, much use beyond acting as stopgap drafting tools. Silly things like peculiar formatting issues when creating bulleted lists are annoying in Google Docs. The formatting is inconsistent and sometimes plain wrong. Similarly, I can't see how anyone who uses Excel beyond ad hoc row and column calculations is going to be lured to Google Spreadsheets. There just isn't enough to make me want to switch. Google fans can argue there is plenty of utility but they'd be forgetting one thing. The people who find real utility from Excel write checks for software. They're the bean counters at whom so many like to poke fun. (Disclosure: I used to be one.) They love Excel yet it is ironic that an entire industry has grown up around securing Excel for compliance purposes. Will those same developers be motivated to do the same for Google? That would confuse customers.

Let's wind the clock back to November 2007 when Cap Gemini announced a partnership with Google for its enterprise applications. At the time, the only reported deployment was to 165 of its own people. I've seen nothing since to indicate that Cap Gemini is getting serious traction. Run this search and you'll see what I mean. Perhaps its customers are finding the same holes I've discovered?

Then we come to the question of development. While many commenters wax lyrical about the quick release cycles for on-demand/saas software, Google is among the slowest to get things done. Even when it does, there seems to be no development strategy or roadmap that discerning buyers can assess. That's not comforting to business buyers.

There is an alternative view held by some of my colleagues that suggests different user communities, even inside large organizations, have different needs. Therefore it is possible to conceive of situations where say a Ford might deploy Google Apps for Enterprise. I don't doubt that and as I noted earlier, one of Josh's commenters confirms that is the case. What I doubt is Google's ability to tidy up what looks like a messy farmyard of applications along with ToS that need a thorough overhaul. Without that, this rumored deal is harmful to Salesforce.com because it goes to its credibility to deliver reliable, useful applications on terms with which business can live.

This is what I know for fact. Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce.com and Jeremy Roche, CEO of CODA are touring the US talking about the upcoming launch of Coda2Go.  This is CODA's first attempt at a serious on-demand financial application that builds on the Force.com platform. It will be formally launched in early May. CODA is giving me a detailed briefing about this towards the end of the month but on what i know so far, things look promising. From this commenter's position, that makes far more sense for Salesforce.com than navigating a rat's nest of half baked applications from Google.

Topics: Google, Enterprise Software

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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13 comments
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  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com

    IIt may only be my opinion, but I say no! If
    you want to see something, that makes sense.
    Check it out! (www.jldd21.nocashever.com)There
    have already been over 76000 hits on an international response. Take the tour!
    Later,

    www.jldd21.nocashever.com
    jldd21
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    by your comments on CODA being a serious possible financial app player on the platform they are pushing are you saying or perhaps is Benioff saying that the partnership with Intaact for the past 4 years has been a farse? From my seat in the stands it has. I think it will be interesting to see where that goes but i'm confident that it has inherent faults. built on the platform still doesnt solve integration issues. SAP and NetSuite might still have better choices if one needs to extend automation past leads and forecasts.
    software.reality
    • Can't say...

      ...on Intacct though I have seen the fiasco associated with QuickBooks.

      On CODA, they know they've got a lot of work to do in selling this and won't rely on SFdC to bring leads. The current dog and pony show is all about awareness. The reality will come once the product is released.

      BTW - it was one of the factors behind Agresso acquiring CODA. They want to get into that space but haven't found a way to do it. CODA thinks that with its Squaresum experience, it has the knowledge and background to hit the ground running. I'm reserving judgment on that one.
      dahowlett9
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    I totally agree. Google apps is simply not high enough quality for the business user - and salesforce is a fantastic system we use every day (alongside of excel). The only reason it could make sense would be if Google were making a major strategic push into the enterprise.
    Penny Herscher - CEO FirstRain
    pennyherscher
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    I think you are missing the point of significance for any
    rumoured salesforce-google hook up. Salesforce made
    SaaS credible in the enterprise. If Google can leverage this
    credibility and build out their suite to enterprise standards
    - then they succeed in taking on Microsoft that much
    sooner.

    This is a long term (visionary) play. Today Microsoft has
    the edge (solely with features). Think a few years out.
    SaaS is a proven model - with Google executing well in the
    enterprise (with help from Salesforce), this will usher in the
    new era that many of us think is inevitable. I can't imaging
    going back to using my old CRM system - Salesforce has
    transformed the way that my business operates - all for
    the better.
    Mani_S
    • Fine but...

      Thanks for that Mani and yes, it is a valid point though I'd question whether companies have the appetite to buy into 'vision' in the way they did say 10 years ago.

      Does Google have the DNA necessary to make the moves you suggest? I'm not convinced. Remember that 98% of its resource goes to its search based ad business. That doesn't give it a lot to play with when it comes to enterprise apps let alone anything else. I am also convinced that compliance is an important issue and on any due diligence measure you care to put out there, Google fails.

      Does SFdC have the will or cajones to impose those disciplines on Google? I've no idea. I doubt it, even given the number of happy customers it 'owns.' Google would have to reorg to take that on board.

      Do you honestly believe MSFT is just going to sit idly by and let Google eat its lunch? If it does then it is in worse shape than I think.

      I think it was Phil Wainewright who predicted that MSFT will have to go through its 'IBM moment' to deal with the threat. I think he's right.

      In the meantime, MSFT will fight tooth and nail to keep its customers in the current environment.

      I'd be a lot more convinced if I could see credible numbers coming out of Google that show me what's happening. That's not been the case to date.
      dahowlett9
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    Mani's point is pertinent. But I wonder whether a Google/Salesforce.com tie up will elevate Google Apps to serious enterprise player, or undermind what SFdC has achieved to date?

    I wonder if NetSuite are talking to Zoho...?

    Ian Hendry
    http://www.wecando.biz
    wecandobiz
    • Interesting

      NetSuite is proving the point - it's customer number ramp is modest to say the least. I reckon it's a case of wait and see.
      dahowlett9
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    Not sure if your trackback is working.

    But here's my 2 cents. I think all those points are valid except those barriers are not difficult to overcome. I???m sure developers are currently working on features to make these products a more rounded application.

    Also, given the power of our analytics tools today, I would expect less and less demand for Excel. Reports in Salesforce are so powerful that you can create graphs and matrix tables without ever touching Excel.

    And finally, I don???t thinking creating a fair ToS requires much more than rational thinking and editing a document (maybe the lawyers will correct me on this statement).

    Darren
    http://www.warriorpoint.com/blog/2008/04/10/google-salesforcecom-makes-sense/
    d2louie
    • Ok but...

      It hasn't happened yet. The ToS thing is the bigger problem from a corp. perspective but usability and function matter. It's interesting what you say about Salesforce analytics - presumably that sets up a conflict?
      dahowlett9
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com is strategically right

    Dennis -- In the 5-10 year timeframe it is a perfect fit. GOOG and CRM can build a highly flexible and secure business computing platform. Even in the short term, it boosts Google a long way into the enterprise. However...

    1 MS is already fighting back -- at the top right of this ZDNET page is a 'MS Online Services' ad for their forthcoming hosted Exchange/SharePoint/CRM services. Even today you can buy these services via partners like www.intermedia.net which blow away the flimsy email hosted offerings of today's Google

    2 I believe Eric Schmidt said that GOOG spends around 70% of its resources on search -- so it is troubling that the other 30% has gained them so little traction in the enterprise, despite the monster PR they generate. (Note that no revenues or real paid subscriber numbers have ever been broken out for their enterprise offerings)

    3 Today, Googforce.com does not have anything like LDAP or Active Directory -- so their chances of providing a secure and compliant IT solution is essentially zero. This needs to be fixed.

    That said, these problems are fixable and Google is an aggressive company that looks to the long term, so an acquisition with a 5 year success horizon would not be shocking.

    Rurik
    rbradbury
  • Perfect Sense: Google Attacking Office

    Google Apps to add Salesforce connectors leads to a Salesforce API for OpenOffice. My wallet says thank you.
    bailey_dan228
  • RE: Google and Salesforce.com: does it make sense?

    It only makes sense if Salesforce is trying to get Oracle to acquire it.Raises the spectre of a Google cloud enveloping ORCL.

    GOOG doesn't understand enterprise and enterprise is less than 1 per cent of its revenues. Hasta la vista to this rumor, imho :-)
    foremski