A hasty move to Google Apps a 'career-limiting move'

A hasty move to Google Apps a 'career-limiting move'

Summary: The Burton Group's new 55-page study concludes that Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) shouldn't be seen as a quick and obvious replacement for Microsoft Office -- or any other Office online and/or offline competitors.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Apps, Google
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The Burton Group has released a new research report, entitled "Google Apps in the Enterprise: A Promotion-Enhancing or Career-Limiting Move for Enterprise Architects?" (Warning: Spoiler ahead. And it's especially "spoiling" for those who are counting on Google to finally give Microsoft Office, with its 90-plus percent market share, some serious competition.)

Burton's 55-page study concludes that Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) shouldn't be seen as a quick and obvious replacement for Microsoft Office -- or any other Office online and/or offline competitors.

"The seductive price (of GAPE, at $50 per user per year) can spell trouble for enterprise architects and their companies if they don't do their homework." Burton analyst Guy Creese says architects need to make sure they understand the limitations of GAPE's "rudimentary feature set" and implement slowly, if at all.

"Quickly adopting GAPE without understanding its quirk or looking at other alternatives is likely to become a career-limiting move," the Burton study says. "Happily, looking at the larger picture -- studying a variety of SaaS (software-as-a-service) based collaboration and content solutions -- is a career-enhancing move."

Burton doesn't see GAPE, which Google rolled out in February 2007, as unimportant. Far from it. The study itemizes the pluses and minuses of Google's solution. On the plus side:

  • Don't need to pay for unnecessary power-user licenses
  • No software to install and no continual upgrades
  • Minimal, if any, training required
  • Relatively easy to include workers outside the enterprise
  • Online documents are not scattered on C drives or fileshares
  • Integration of past application silos

Among Google Apps' weaknesses, according to Burton:

  • Power users and sophisticated documents are not supported
  • Records management is difficult and requires extra work
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee is for Gmail only
  • Google is not liable for lost data, profits or revenue
  • Live telephone support is 17/5 (not 24/7)
  • Difficult to plan for product capabilities and rollouts

Burton also notes that "Google itself can take some getting used to. The company has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a 'known only to Google' schedule. Furthermore, some companies are leery of entrusting their corporate documents to a company that makes its living from analyzing content and displaying it to the world."

Before Microsoft haters start taking aim at (me) the messenger, let me say that I would love to see Microsoft Office get some real competition. Lack of competition is what leads to bloated, overpriced products. If Google's move into this space spurs Microsoft to be more responsive and release better products, I am all for it.

At the same time, I am tired of Google getting a free pass. Microsoft's competitors should be judged just as harshly as Microsoft. If online services that do not work offline go down -- for maintenance or whatever reason -- the outage should be considered as a detriment, not a growing pain.

Do you see Google as the company most likely to give Microsoft Office a run for its money? Why/why not?

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Google

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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137 comments
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  • Yeah, career killing if you're a receptionist or Windows tech.

    Otherwise, you will do just fine. I can see it now: Sorry, Dr. Jones, you can not work for our bio-science department because you don't use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

    Mary Jo - run to the light and get out of your MS dungeon!
    nomorems
    • Uhm, r-i-i-i-i-i-i-ght...

      Let me guess, from judging the quality of that post there I'd say you spend exactly zero hours a week actively managing platform strategy and governance as the Enterprise Architect for your company.

      In fact, you spend 8 hours a day in a cube dodging muffins while you type MS bashing posts on the web all day.

      Am I correct? Thanks, I love it when I'm right.
      BFD
      • The point was the title states :

        "A hasty move to Google Apps a 'career-limiting move'" Like I wrote, only if you are a receptions or Windows tech. Being a business software consultant I can say there is no career threat for me by using Open Office, Google, or any other app in place of MS Office.

        Oh, and sorry if I can actually time time off to post MS bashes. Guess it sucks to be you if you have to work all day long.
        nomorems
        • Oh, I get it.

          So when you said that it would be a career-limiting move "only if you are a receptions [sic] or Windows tech" (whatever either of those mean), what you meant was "unless you're a business software consultant whose work has no direct relationship with MS Office, and who is also me."

          While that's certainly a valid enough statement, how does that amount to a compelling and meaningful point?
          TrPrince
          • You still don't get it.

            MS Office is NOT required for a successful career! Do you really think Actors, Dancers, Directors, Writers, Producers, Chemists, Janitors, Gardeners, Contractors, Lawyers, Doctors, Assemblymen, Councilmen, Senators, Teachers, Conservationists, Biologists, Professors, et. al. will RUIN THEIR CAREER by NOT using Microsoft Office products?

            You guys are nuts. Only the simple minded Windows techs (anyone in Windows IT) are subject to losing their job. That's the same market-share everyone claims Apple has. So guess what...who cares????
            nomorems
          • No one said a thing about ruining careers

            The title of the article refers to the move as "career-limiting". Sure enough, even actors, dancers, producers and chemists, if they commit their energies to Google Apps, may quickly find themselves out of contention for jobs in document preparation for large law firms and many accounting jobs in general.

            Such career limitations on great people like Tom Cruise, John Huntsman Sr., and His Lordship Michael Flatley would be a crying shame. I hope for all their sakes they don't turn to Google Apps.
            TrPrince
          • Typical Marketing crap!

            You read like a lawyer or politician. Try reading between the lines and see that Office DOES NOTHING for the career. It's all about what you can offer your employer. And I can Guarantee that the skill to use OFFICE is something that will prevent you from getting/holding a job that is valuable. It's all about your OTHER skills.

            Get it, LOSER! OFFICE will NOT get you the job. The SKILLS NEEDED will get you the job. OFFICE is for receptionists and Windows techs....EOS!

            LOSER!
            nomorems
          • Repost- Typical Marketing crap!

            You read like a lawyer or politician. Try reading between the lines and see that Office DOES NOTHING for the career. It's all about what you can offer your employer. And I can Guarantee that the skill to use OFFICE NOT that will prevent you from getting/holding a job that is valuable. It's all about your OTHER skills.

            Get it, LOSER! OFFICE will NOT get you the job. The SKILLS NEEDED will get you the job. OFFICE is for receptionists and Windows techs....EOS!

            LOSER!
            nomorems
          • One out, all out

            nomorems,


            Just to disprove your global statement, I would not have a job (as a Technical Writer) in the foreseeable future if I did not know how to use MS Office apps.

            Since I am one case that does not tally with your statement, your statement is WRONG.


            The fact is that the requirement for people well versed in MS Office technology is increasing. Hence the new role, Office Developer, that was not really recognised only a couple of years ago.


            I am continually amazed by people that use some sort of MS Office competition at home can somehow self-qualify themselves as experts on what enterprises need as far as office app usage goes. Enterprises embed MS Office into processes that the average home or SMB user is generally totally ignorant of. I have built contract management systems in Word and general purpose, reconfigurable utilities in Excel, all in less time and cost than building 'real' (= C++, Jave, etc) applications with their top-heavy project administration overhead would entail.


            This is not to say that MS Office is perfect. I think it should be given a wholesale makeover to integrate the suite into one app, replace a lot of the confusing and counter-productive 'intelligence' with more straighforward key strokes and mouse hotspots and simplify some of the often confusingly interactive structures (such as numbering schemes and heading level styles - both have indent settings).
            Patanjali
          • Great People?

            Great people, Tom Cruise? Are you nuts or what. I was with you until that statemnet. Anything else you now say is to be ignored. You just limited your credability to zilch.
            stanralph
          • Re: Pantanjali

            I'm curious, what features employed by MS Office that are unique to MS Office are so important to technical writing that you couldn't do your job? I don't know about Google Apps but Open office saves in Word format and Excel formats. If it's presentation you can save presentations in Office Power Point format albeit without some of the animation features from open office. If it's because you rely on MS Office Basic to do your job then there is a real issue and a problem.

            Just curious.
            maldain
          • In your own words:

            "And I can Guarantee that the skill to use OFFICE is something that will prevent you from getting/holding a job that is valuable"

            So I guess if you can't use office you're screwed! :)
            THEE WOLF
          • MOST companies require office

            I've been a consultant and an employee for a number of Fortune 400 companies. With the exception of one company that used Lotus products (if you can believe that), ALL required proficiency in Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint (and sometimes Access). Even with Lotus, the embedding into the corporate process and the level of communication and documentation required advanced functionality, and as mentioned before, even custom software, to be able to function.

            I am a software engineer. Of course, I had to be proficient in software engineering to get the job. But, lack of Office skills at an advance level would certainly have wasted a lot of time, and held me back. And this was always asked during the interview!!! Extremely complex spreadsheets needed to be constructed. And, since engineers now do their own documentation, and the corporate templates for documentation are very complex, I had to be proficient there. All meeting presentations were done in PowerPoint. Outlook - you could get by with minimum skills there, but it showed, and would be considered a weakness.

            My only online experience is with Google. The limitations are obvious to a proficient office tool user, and Google is what the article was about.

            I would be hesitant just because Google is often not available, or only partially available. And sometimes EXTREMELY slow (I have 30 Mbit down and 1.6 Mbit up, so it ain't me). I use Google for my personal stuff, but would NOT EVER consider it for my professional stuff.

            My 2 cents...

            PS. And, quit the bashing - that shows a level of immaturity we don't need here.
            sirstrider@...
    • Very Pro Microsoft!

      That was one Microsoft Suck up artical if ever I read one!
      aussieblnd@...
    • Read the article please!

      The move to Google office by individual users is not what MJ is talking about here, she is talking about office managers, IT Application managers and people who would be switching a whole medium to large company over from MS Office to Google Office.
      For individual users (like myself) who use OO.o within a company where everyone else uses MS Office there is little to no risk since I actually have both installed.
      But the guy who would make the decision to switch the whole company from MS Office to something else should pay attention to the gist of this piece (which summed up is, if you are going to switch make sure you now all the facts before you switch a whole 5000 user company) or for those people (the guy making the decision) doing it blindly could be career limiting (or ending).

      Some lonely person sitting alone in their home office may have some impact if they switch but it won't end their career. Nor will it limit a chemist if he learns how to use Google Office. As a matter of fact learning other software then MS office should be a career boost for anyone.
      So guys read the piece and determine who the intended audience is before going off on a rant please.
      sysop-dr
      • Read it!

        I read it, so ok it can limit IT but it will not limit the other 97% percent that are just end users and not Power users. Since most programs out there will open office doc's it does not matter what the end user is using so longs as they are productive. Power users and the IT department can still BUY and use office if needed as a single or multi user but not have Microsoft stick an albatross around the company?s neck by forcing use of enterprise licensing.
        aussieblnd@...
      • .....

        Thank you for clearing that up for everyone. Seems that people are quick to jump on MS, and do not think about the results when switching a whole corporation to another Office Suite. Office has been around for years and many accountants, sales personel have been using MS office for years and have become very familiar with it not to also mentin other Software Applications that were built around the MS Office format will be clearly impacted. If you're self employed, this is good solution for small biz. But it is def not a good move for Large biz anytime soon.
        wgonzalez@...
        • Hmmm, same was true of Lotus 123 and Word Perfect 20 years ago

          Why should the transition be any more difficult than that one? Sorry but the reasoning of that how we've done it for years just doesn't fly. Yes there will be a retraining effort required and yes it's a bit of an expense but it's nothing like shelling out a few hundred bucks for each user that requires Office functionality every time they need a new system.
          maldain
  • News Flash - computing will not move onto a collaborative net - wrong! - NT

    NT
    raycote
  • HELLO!? Open Office?!!!1one!!

    Is the author of this article new here?

    OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org/)is a FREE software suite from Sun Microsystems, with many programs that closely mimic most of the MS Office programs (to about 80% functionality...enough to satisfy all but the most strident power-users). It's also compatible with most Office program formats (such as .doc, .xls, .ppt, and so forth).

    So far, the only thing I see Google actually offering is shared web-space for the storage of output. Freeware has offerings for that too, called TortoiseSVN/Sub(version).



    Did I mention it's FREE?
    Cris J