This week is EMC World, and EMC -- like IBM, HP and Oracle -- is a fully qualified and respected enterprise vendor. Even Microsoft, which has been working to become an enterprise vendor for two decades, just recently crossed over to a point where the majority -- though for some this still isn't a given -- thinks it has arrived.
But the more I look at Google, the more I see a new version of Netscape. Netscape had a figurehead CEO with an enterprise background, but the company actually was run by college kids and ex-Apple folks who clearly wouldn't have recognized an enterprise if someone hit them over their collective heads with it. Its one big win probably still is remembered by some, including a number of the ex-IT folks involved in that deal, as one of the biggest disasters in history.
It seems that whenever a new company comes up as Google, Netscape and even Microsoft did, there is this big rush to become an enterprise vendor and this long painful learning curve. IT buyers who should know better jump on a dot-com only to find out the vendor isn't even close to being ready.
EMC: Enterprise Vendor Example
I could use HP, IBM, or Oracle as easily, but let's stick with EMC for this comparison. What you learn if you have sold to the enterprise (and I'm ex-IBM myself) is that there are three qualifications:
Enterprises bet their billion-dollar businesses on vendors, and if a vendor screws up, it can cause the enterprise to suffer generally and the IT manager to face the very real possibility of premature retirement. This makes the enterprise buyer conservative. The saying, "There are old knights and there are bold knights but there are no old bold knights" applies to CIOs. The ones who are the most aggressive tend to have the shortest times in office.
This is why at EMC, one of CEO Joe Tucci's direct reports runs the quality organizationand is focused on customer loyalty. This is because, in the enterprise, once you lose loyalty, you lose the business. At the EMC event this week, price is subordinated behind the repeated messages of reliability, security, and successes such as eBay, which is using EMC and AT&T technology to create its cloud solution.
EMC "walks the talk" and, like others in its class, widely uses the technology it sells and in the same fashion. This is all critical to building and maintaining the those three qualifications of trust, relationships and buyer protection.
Google Can't Spell Enterprise
Google, like Netscape, reminds me of a college student who buys a term paper and then wonders why he or she doesn't get a good grade. First, it doesn't have an event like EMC World, which virtually every enterprise vendor holds, and this probably goes a long way toward why Gartner advises avoiding Google. Industry analysts are at the core of building trust with the enterprise, and Google doesn't even seem to understand that role.
Second, as I'm writing this, there is a Google focused Web attack going on that is evidently infecting large numbers of machines that belong to folks who use Google search. Google doesn't seem to be particularly concerned, even though this remains its core business. If it isn't going to protect current customers, why would any new customer trust it?
Third, relationships are between people. Google doesn't seem to understand people let alone show it is capable of maintaining a relationship. For instance, this week The Wall Street Journal reported that in response to mass departures of employees who felt that Google's HR department was impersonal, Google implemented an impersonal analytic tool to correct the problem. This is like a company whose customers are complaining their call center people aren't responsive replacing those people with an automated voice-response robot. Like using gas to put out a fire. Not only will this not work, it makes the company look incredibly stupid.
Finally, from the ongoing antitrust investigations into its behavior in Europe, Google appears to be going out of its way to become an even scarier Evil Empire than Microsoft, and this is not a change that IT buyers can believe in, or want, for that matter. It is clear that it has no control over its image, and when it comes to "walking the talk," it is about as far from that as we are likely to get in the industry with massive efforts to protect its own privacy while actively advocating violating the privacy of others.
Wrapping Up: I Know Enterprise Vendors; Google is No Enterprise Vendor
Increasingly, Google's lack of understanding is being showcased in the way it deals with customers, analysts, media, government and its own employees. Yes, it is successful, but it is increasingly clear that this appears to be more luck than skill in many critical areas, and with enterprise sales, you typically don't get do-overs.
Google is increasingly looking like the Dan Quayle of enterprise vendors and the famous video of the Lloyd Bentsen debate comes to mind. I've worked with enterprise vendors, I've worked for the one of the greatest, and Google is no enterprise vender.