Google Enterprise strategy: 'Death to the hierarchy'

I enjoyed breakfast at the spanking new Google NYC headquarters this morning, along with a rare inside look at the Internet search behemoth's enterprise search strategy.

I enjoyed breakfast at the spanking new Google NYC headquarters this morning, along with a rare inside look at the Internet search behemoth's enterprise search strategy. 

The “Google Enterprise Seminar in a Box” Search Appliance multi-state road show landed in New York today and about 200 executives from corporate, government and not-for-profit organizations attentively listened to Michael Lock, Director of North American Sales for Google Enterprise, making the Google case for enterprise search. 

“Wouldn't it be great if search within your company was as easy as search on Google.com?” Lock honed in on a simple message of Googley goodness: Google Enterprise Solutions makes organizational life as “fast and effective” as a personal search at Google.com.

Lock prefaced his finely tuned sales pitch for Google Enterprise Solutions with an ode to Google: 

“Google is a different kind of technology company, we build technology products that people love, not that they have to use.”

Lock put forth that now “users expect more out of technology,” a “no manual” ease of use. “Consumerization of information technology” has heightened the expectations of end-users, in both their personal and professional situations, Lock asserted.

Google’s Enterprise Solutions strategy is to introduce products that “look like consumer applications being used in personal lives” within the organization. Google’s core search product and user experience informs Google’s Enterprise search products. 

The Google philosophy is to take the Google Internet search paradigm and bring it into the enterprise.

Lock cited Google.com user search behavior and expectations. The average user types 1.7 words into the Google .com search box and expects to obtain satisfaction within the top three to five results, or will “go somewhere else.”

Lock underscored, however, that users are generally not going “somewhere else” (Yahoo, Micorosoft, Ask.com), proudly noting that Google accounts for 60% of Internet searches.

Lock quantified Internet search as a $15 billion plus market and pegged the enterprise search market at less than $1 billion. Google believes its formula for enterprise search will fulfill unmet organizational needs.

Lock juxtaposed the Google Internet search experience to the “typical” enterprise search experience. 

Google search uses one search box to navigate a “single, comprehensive index”; Enterprise search, however, involves “silos of information.”

Google search offers “great” relevancy, enhanced by updated Google algorithms; Enterprise search, however, offers “poor” relevancy. 

Google search is simple and easy to use (less than 1% of users call upon the “Advanced Search” function); Enterprise search, however, is complex to use.

Lock concluded his Google search vs. enterprise search smackdown with his ace in the hole: Google search is free to the end user; Enterprise search starts at “seven figures.” 

Google believes the Google Enterprise “cost advantage” is a key competitive differentiator and said Google intends to aggressively drive down the “price per document” of its solutions.

Lock underscored the increasing importance of search to the organization: “Information volume is exploding”: 

Documents
Web pages
Email
IM Chats
Intranets
Databases
Images
File shares
Spreadsheets
Desktop…

Given the “explosion” of unstructured data in the enterprise, “old methods of information management don’t work,” Lock asserted. He also offered a remedy: 

Death to the hierarchy! 

Lock put forth personal anecdotes to proclaim “you don’t put email in folders” and declare GMail the victor over Outlook. 

Lock spoke of the old (pre-GMail) Outlook days when he would “look forward” to his transcontinental commutes for six hours of time to “categorize email.” 

Lock entertainingly, but pointedly, emphasized that Google solutions do not demand what he portrayed as labor intensive and inadequate user categorization via hierarchical folder structures. Lock then used his own GMail account to illustrate what he believes is the superiority of implicit organization via a single, intuitive search box. Lock proudly concluded that he has left behind hundreds of Outlook folders. 

In declaring “Death to the hierarchy,” was Lock obliquely suggesting an impending end of the Microsoft desktop folder dynasty? 

I asked Lock for a projection of when Google will succeed in bringing “Death to the hierarchy.” 

Lock offered that forward thinking enterprises are moving away from hierarchical data organization, but no specific date for an absolute demise of the "hierarchy" was provided. 

PART II: Google Enterprise goes to market

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