Google is gaining momentum as an IT services provider to the consultancy industry. Jeroen Hovinga, Sales Marketing Director at GeeFirm, one of the first firms to provide an ERP solution exclusively via the Google ecosystem, reflects on the trend.
‘Google? Are you kidding?’ Until recently, Google did not play any serious role whatsoever in the professional services market. Project management? Finance? Collaboration? There was no Google App for that. The tech giant had in the eyes of many no chance against the dominance of the Microsoft ecosystem in the business environment.
But of late the landscape has started to turn – rapidly. Professional Services organisations and consultancies are now becoming aware that Google and all the treasures that recently have been built upon and around its core technology are becoming a very interesting alternative for the dinosaur from Redmond.
How come that Google succeeds in attracting more and more consultants? First, there is prevailing the ‘cloud first’ IT strategy. Cloud computing is nowadays the way to go for businesses of all sorts. It is not really necessary to recap all the benefits of cloud computing for Professional Services as they are well documented in the market: more flexibility, easier innovation, seamless collaboration, to mention just a few. To put it a bit stronger: Cloud was invented by Google. Note that all the Google services were online from the very first beginning in 1997. And Microsoft? They embraced the cloud just a few years ago, light years after the start of Google Apps. Will they ever be able to bridge the gap?
FYI: the first time the term ‘Cloud’ was publicly articulated was in 2006, ten years after the introduction of Google Search. Interestingly, the term was coined by a Google executive. Eric Schmidt, then Google CEO, introduced the term Cloud in August 2006: “What's interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model, and you all are here because you are part of that new model. I don't think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a ‘cloud’ somewhere. And that if you have the right kind of browser or the right kind of access, it doesn't matter whether you have a PC or a Mac or a mobile phone or a BlackBerry or what have you – or new devices still to be developed – you can get access to the cloud.”
Then, there is Mobile. Especially in consultancy, where professionals need to work wherever and whenever the client urges them to, that’s quite a thing. Mobility is a basic living condition for consultants on the move. Google has understood this right away. The worldwide market share of the Android operating system for mobile devices simply is mind boggling: about 90%. Apple’s iOS scores 12,5% and Microsoft a bit more over 00,25%. Each day, over 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated; and G Suite has more than 60 million users within the United States’ education system alone. Those students are the professionals of tomorrow. Will they ever be willing to move into legacy?
Another important factor for acceptance and adoption is ROI: costs versus revenues. Many consultancies have embarked on their own business case for cloud products and services . And whatever are included or excluded when calculating: Google offers a much better price-performance ratio. Again another tick in the box.
But we are just touching the basics here: the productivity office applications such as old school text processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and such. Microsoft still has a significant market share, but Google is enjoying the momentum.
The benefits of Google over Microsoft for Professional Services organisations (PSOs) are clear enough. However, in my opinion, it is far more relevant to monitor what is happening upon that foundation of productivity technology. Productivity platforms, solutions and tools are generic: everyone can use them, everybody may benefit. The vertical solutions that support specific industries or roles are now the war theatre. The cutting edge is found right there, in the vertical solutions – with professional services businesses one of the most ferocious battlegrounds.
As it stands, Microsoft had the upper hand. But that advantage is decreasing, as more and more apps, solutions and integrations are emerging in the Google ecosystem. Just take a look in the Google Marketplace and you will be astonished by the variety and choices.
Many PSOs have investigated, reviewed and benchmarked, including established names such as PwC, functional specialists like Quint Wellington Redwood and a range of boutiques and new kids on the block. After that, they have decided to leave the beaten paths and go for change, growth and innovation.
What have they been able to find? For starters: they can leave the ‘Era of Legacy’ behind. They experience 10 times better software in terms of functionality, speed and user experience. They benefit from the scalability that turns them from a local provider into a potential global player. For example, Frank Grift, CFO, said a while after adopting Google’s G Suite platform (supported by VOGSY, a cloud-based ERP solution for mid-sized PSOs): “Dare to Challenge is our motto that challenges us and our clients to improve continuously and execute a real Digital Transformation strategy. G Suite as part of Google Cloud offers a robust and secure environment to support and expedite this change of our collaboration model internally and with our customers. Until now we were using a private hosted environment and for reasons of modern consulting models, flexibility, TCO and IT footprint reduction, we decided to embrace public cloud.”
And most of all, PSOs that have turned to Google see the fun experience in the eyes of their professionals. And in the war for millennial talent, that is a very strong asset.
Google services for Professional Services event
Later in spring, Google, VOGSY and Appirio (a Google Cloud implementation partner) are jointly organising an event focused on Google services for the Professional Services industry. The event will be hosted in Google’s offices in Amsterdam. Those interested in joining can notify GeeFirm on this page.