Google @ Work Breakfast Seminar in San Francisco

Two days ago I attended a Google @ Work Breakfast event in San Francisco. Below are my raw notes and some conclusions in the end.

Google is not @ work at the Westin, where we are now, for lack of a wireless connection. But that’s OK, this is more of a briefing, they want us to watch, not play 🙂 Oh, and breakfast is good.

Speaker: Michael Lock, Sales Director, North America, Google Enterprise

Consumer Technology seeing a lot of Innovation, while Enterprise IT falling behind on the innovation curve. 75% IT budgets going to maintenance. Gartner , 2006: $8 out of $10 $ IT spend is dead money. (Hm… I feel like I’m hearing a generic speech, it could have been delivered at Software 2007 last week).

Google wants business users to have apps that they will not be forced to use, they will love to use.

More than 7000 Enterprise customers (Wow! I wonder how “Enterprise Customer” is defined. Using Google Apps with my own domain, am I one? smile_wink)

Google Enterprise team about 300 people. Not making new products, leveraging what already exists in consumer space.

3 Key Areas: Search, Geo-spatial Products, Google Apps.

3 lessons Enterprise IT can learn from Google

  1. Fast is better than slow – talks about traditional software deployment cycle. (20 minutes into the show, where’s the beef?)
  2. Simple better than complex (storytelling, this is the generic “SaaS is better” pitch) Complexities of the on-site model. “Every Tuesday somebody issues a patch” – subtle hint to Microsoft Patch Tuesdays…good slides, btw.
  3. Assume Chaos and Deal with it. “This is what Google does best” ( yeah, right… OK, the link was a cheap shot, I admitsmile_tongue). Data has changed and it does not come in rows and columns. 80+% unstructured data. Typical way we deal with it: Inbox > categorization, hierarchies. Manual categorization, hierarchies are dead. (I *almost* agree: still doing some categorization, using labels) Refers to Yahoo’s original name: “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”. Too much data today to manage hierarchically. Search to replace hierarchies. Uses slide that compares Outlook folders to Gmail – (hm, his Gmail screenshot does not have any labels!) Embrace search as a way to navigate.


Google Apps

Now: Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Startpage. 

Soon: Docs & Spreadsheets, Blogger, Groups, wiki

Reduced complexity. Cost: Old: $200-1000/user/year, 1G? New: $50/user/year 10G.

Security fears, adoption curve: uses analogy of money in mattress vs in Bank, online banking > trust issues, we got used to it. Where’s the best place for money? for email?

Demo – pulls up his email account. (Has a bunch of Interview Feedbacks with actual names – one can never be too careful). Pitch against categorization, for search. (still missed the label concept – when the actual common word may not be in the mail. Has 33k unread mail in his inbox. Needs some GTD training? smile_speedy)

Calendar – shows integrating several calendars. Spreadsheet demo, with another user shared, including IM. Complementary to MS Office environment.

Enterprise Search

Easier to find things on the Net than in your company. Cute slide: top search engine on the Net: Google. top search engine in the Enterprise: …. the phone- aka asking around.

Shows MOMA, Google’s internal internal page. Pulls up a manager’s record (search), gets all reports/management chain – link to map, down to cube level. “key match”: unlike public Net, here admin can control what goes to top of search results.

Shows examples of how search pulls info from Oracle expense system. Pulls Cisco orders from order entry system. (Somewhat reminds me of how SAP’s Plattner talked about accessing data via search)

Search appliance works with existing permission systems, too.


Maps, Earth, SketchUp

Earth Pro – data import, telephone support ..etc. Earth Enterprise – create custom earth. e.g Caltrain adding their own imagery. Utility companies ..etc.

Live demo from NT Department of Transportation, traffic cameras included. Traffic snapshot (every 5 mins) pops up. Asset tracking from Toronto company. (Runs out of time, I learned more from Mono, the Citi College guy sitting next to me, who talked about using all this stuff for facility management)  

Summary: This was a standard road-show pitch, I did not hear anything new – for a while this irritated me (hence the early comments), but towards the end, looking around the audience I realized I was wrong. I need to re-calibrate my expectations. Perhaps I came to the wrong meeting, but if Google is to achieve mass adoption outside geek circles, then doing these basic road-shows is probably the right thing.

Michael’s story-telling was good, the jokes, the Powerpoint tricks were all in the right place… somehow I still felt this was the “classic salesy” style I could have heard 15 years ago from Oracle, IBM and the like. Naive me, I was hoping Google’s innovation does not stop at technology, they also bring some freshness to sales… like actually knowing one’s product well enough not to have to dodge most questions.smile_omg  (To be fair, after the presentation there was an hour left for product demos in the breakfast area).

Finally, considering the amount of “new information”, I wonder what the big deal was uninviting some Microsoft participants. Unless of course Google Marketing subscribes to the “bad PR is good PR theory”, since the rejection earned more blog feedback than the seminar itself.

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