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Capgemini to pitch Google Apps

September 10, 2007

In the clearest sign yet that Google Apps may be about to make the leap from small businesses to large ones, a major systems consulting firm, Capgemini, is announcing today a partnership with Google to push Apps into the enterprise market. Capgemini is incorporating Apps into its outsourcing service for managing companies' PC networks. The consultancy says it currently manages about a million desktops for corporate clients. In a statement that is sure to annoy Microsoft, which has long dominated business PCs with its Office suite, Capgemini says that Google Apps represents "the next-generation communication and collaboration tools [workers] need to manage electronic communications, share and publish information, and stay connected while on the go."

Google approached Capgemini about the partnership a few months ago, according to Steve Jones, a Capgemini outsourcing executive who oversees the firm's work with software-as-a-service applications. The move shows that Google believes the time is ripe to make a major push into the enterprise computing market.

I asked Jones about the commonly heard claim that Google Apps, while fine for little organizations, isn't "enterprise-ready." He scoffed at the notion, saying that the objection is just a smokescreen that some CIOs are "hiding behind." Google Apps, he says, is "already being used covertly" in big companies, behind the backs of IT staffers. The time has come, he argues, to bring Apps into the mainstream of IT management in order to ensure that important data is safeguarded and compliance requirements are met. Jones foresees "a lot of big companies" announcing the formal adoption of Apps.

But that isn't happening yet. Though Google and Capgemini have been crafting the announcement of their partnership for a number of weeks, they have yet to sign up any clients - or at least not any that are willing to go public with their plans. Jones says that one of Capgemini's clients, a US telecommunications firm, is close to a deal for incorporating Google Apps onto some of its desktops. He's confident the deal will be completed by the end of the month.

For the near term, Capgemini is pitching Apps largely as a complement to Microsoft Office. Google's package offers two immediate advantages, according to Jones. First, it allows the many thousands of workers who don't have their own PCs or their own copies of Office - from factory hands to call-center agents - to gain access to email, calendars, and other personal-productivity applications. Up to now, says Jones, licensing and data-storage costs have prohibited these "disenfranchised employees" from being given access to Office-style apps. Because Google charges only $50 a year per user for Apps and stores all email messages and other data in its own systems, it lowers the cost barrier substantially.

Second, says Jones, Google Apps simplifies collaboration, particularly between employees working at different companies. With Office and other traditional apps, he says, such collaboration usually entails "lobbing emails over the firewall" with attached files. Such "paper-shuffling" leads to a proliferation of different versions of documents, adding complexity and delays to the process. With Apps, a single version of a document is maintained by Google, and people from different companies can work on it simultaneously. That, contends Jones, can greatly speed up the work of inter-company teams.

The Google-Capgemini partnership is important because systems consultancies and outsourcers exert a strong influence over the IT decisions of large companies. Google knows that a grass-roots movement alone isn't enough to break into the enterprise market. I expect that now we'll see a series of similar partnerships between Google and some of the other big guns in the IT business. Of course, there's also an irony here. The giant IT consulting firms symbolize the high cost and ornate complexity of traditional IT. You might say that they're part of the problem that the new wave of Web-based services is supposed to solve. It only goes to show: Business, no less than politics, makes strange bedfellows.


This is fascinating for the fierce culture clash that it represents, and which you allude to in the final paragraph. Enterprise computing has fierce demands that are different from the engineering type environment Google's come from. It also has Machiavellian political dimensions. Also, relationships with the big outsourcers are demanding in a way Google would not so far have had to deal with.

This agreement is also interesting in what it leaves unsaid. Google likes to think it can do everything itself, yet this agreement suggests it actually has failed in its own endeavours in this market.

Posted by: Tony Healy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2007 01:55 AM

@Tony : I don't think Google has failed in its own endeavours in this market since these endeavours are quite limited and the success is already here (keep in mind Google Apps is only 6 months old). In addition, Capgemini is a consulting firm, the kind of job Google seems not to be interested in anyway...

Posted by: Olivier [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2007 04:30 AM

We are seeing an "Innovator's Dilemma" market appear before our eyes - cheap but underpowered Google apps against expensive, full-featured Microsoft apps. While the feature bigots laugh, Google apps will creep into the corporate IT fabric around the edges.

It will be interesting to see how the SIs start to knit Google apps into the corporate IT environment. There should be an opportunity to create the equivalent of SalesForce.com's App Exchange around Google's apps/gadgets/storage.

Posted by: ckeene [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Nick, I heard them pitch it today...and I expected to hear how Google has inspired Cap to itself aggressively embrace utility delivery models but heard nothing of that...see my write up below


Posted by: vinnie mirchandani [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2007 12:00 AM

Make Sure You Read the Fine Print before
making a Career (or Income) Limiting Move
- to see why see the article at http://www.pcprofile.com/Office_Collaboration.pdf that I wrote some months ago on the topic.

Great tool, great concept, BUT it has a big downside for the unwary. It's not as plain sailing as many would like to believe.

If you want to share your IP with the rest of the world and have it all over servers everywhere, go for it, but those of us that make a living out of IP matters, it's a real issue.

It's an even bigger issue if you want to have commercial secrets and decide to collaborate using Google Apps, the Ts and Cs will kill you, and not with laughter!

Are you aware that for anything you load up into Google Apps you immediately grant a license to Google to use in any way they so choose? Read their fine print.

Whilst you might own the IP, you are also assigning them rights to it as well!

Is that what you had in mind for confidential documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc?

I suspect not.

Use Google Apps with caution!

Posted by: RobH [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2007 03:19 AM

I work for a large church as a graphic designer and have become so frustrated with our aging cobbled together network. Budget cuts have stalled updating the system. Also, we have several staffers that work from home and cannot access our shared drives. They don't use MS Office at home so when we use Outlook to invite them to meeting or schedule a resource, the email they get appears to be gibberish. And yes, there is great confusion over document collaboration with multiple versions getting emailed and revised, etc.

I've been pushing Google Apps for about a month. But boards and committees and such have delayed any action. So I'm using it "covertly" and have converted a couple of other staffers as well. We can't enjoy the full benefits such as across the board calendar usage, but for email and docs and spreadsheet collaboration it's working great.

Our IT guy is all for Google Apps but doesn't want to crusade for it the way I've been doing. The resistance to doing things a new way is tremendous.

Posted by: monamaynard [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 30, 2007 09:00 PM

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