10 ways Google can attract the enterprise

Microsoft's domination in business continues unabated. The only chink in their armor is Linux, which is slowly encroaching on their market share. Google has a long way to go before a company like Wal-Mart is ready to run their data center in the cloud, but there's a few ways Google can attract attention. 1. Bring Android to the business masses Today, Android is powering the T-Mobile G1, a consumer-friendly device with a touch interface. There are rumors of a Nokia device or something from Asus. Partnering with a company like Palm or Samsung to make a business phone would add to their credibility in the mobile market. Give us the extensibility of Android with a great hardware keyboard and options for VPN and remote access clients. 2. Make Google Documents actually work No IT manager I know is going to touch Google Documents yet. Even the process of opening a document is confusing to the average knowledge worker. Documents lacks the powerful features of Word 2007, such as the ability to convert a text document into a full-fledged brochure. If that products matures in a legitimate way, they may expand their market beyond SMEs who can't afford multiple copies of Office. 3. Build the cloud faster than Amazon... Google needs to take Google App Engine farther, promoting it as an all-purpose solution for even large companies to house data, run Web apps securely, and with good offline support. 4. ...and make the cloud secure The feedback I get from IT managers is that they don't trust the cloud -- they want to control their data archiving and have worries about privacy. Google should convince companies like Exxon and Ford that Web apps and Web storage are just as secure as computing powered by your own data center. 5. Make Google synonymous with wireless You can tap into a wireless network in Mountain View thanks to Google, but you won't find the access in places like Fargo. But why not? If Google can build a country-wide wireless network, and make it secure, the enterprise might be ready to sign up legions of mobile workers. 6. Add business power to Gmail Consumers like the lightness of Gmail, the fact that they have endless storage, and they have even warmed up to labels. Business users I talk to -- those who are pretty much required to use Outlook -- hate Gmail. They don't understand it. Even Yahoo! has given in to that crowd with their take on personal folders. Gmail should add better back-up features, folders, and unthreaded e-mail. 7. Be more open Apple has not learned this lesson yet, Google is learning it a day at a time. HP and Microsoft, meanwhile, are clear leaders because they understand that business needs to partner, not just buy. Here's one example: Microsoft has an entire business unit called Health and Life Sciences that has helped build a .NET framework for tracking molecules in cancer research. Google, follow that lead. 8. Make Chrome more attractive to business As I mentioned last week, Chrome is out of beta but is not ready for primetime in the enterprise. It needs an extensions engine, more support on other platforms, and there are still some persistent bugs. 9. Create a business unit One way to attract large companies is to create a business unit that caters to them -- businesses want to know they are not lost in the shuffle with consumers. Google is a search giant, and an innovator, but they are not known as a company that gives business exceptional attention. 10. Create more business-centric apps Gmail and Documents are a step in the right direction, but even Zoho (a much smaller company) has more business tools available than Google -- way more. Give us a Webconferencing tool or a screen-sharing app that runs on the Web. Make us believe you want to cater to the needs of the business worker.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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