(By Rich Bieglmeier) On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Google Inc.
) announced that a set of Google+ features, designed specifically for businesses, will be free through the end of 2013.
The business features include:
- Private content sharing for organizations
- Video meetings integrated with Gmail, Calendar and Docs
- Administrative Controls to limit sharing to authorized users
The tech major says a lot more is "planned for the coming months, including a mobile version of Google+ for enterprise users and more administrative controls."
It's no secret that Google wants to add additional, meaningful revenue streams to the business mix as advertising accounts for 96% of the company's sales. So, why then give something away for free?
iStock is just thinking ahead and out loud here, or as it is more commonly called, connecting the dots. It seems to us that management is trying to harness the potential of its 350 million active gmail users and 150 million active Google+ members. The logical step is to have employers offer employees business apps (a.k.a. software as a service (SaaS)) that many are familiar with and use already. It saves countless hours and dollars in training.
The offering is essentially the same as the Google Apps starter set that is already free. iStock sees Google using the enhanced version as a gateway for businesses to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, which costs $5 a month per user or $50 a year per user, or Google Apps for Business with Vault, priced at $10 a month per user.
However, we don't see Google Apps for Business with Vault as the end game. Just a hunch, but iStock see Customer Relationship Management fully integrated with Saas as the intended target. Most of the CRM tools are in place with calendar and gmail; however, users must use an app from the likes of Salesforce.com (CRM) for missing ingredients. The two companies have played nice with one another and have worked to integrate CRM's apps.
Google has the ability to "leverage the Wisdom of the crowd" like no other and allow for companies to organize information in the same way their search engine works. Plus, minus the bricks and mortar, Google has all the apps run a successful, more efficient business, and are uniquely positioned for companies follow customers/prospects from clicks to cash.
iStock believes Google's move on Wednesday is the first step towards offering a fully loaded customer relationship management solution to business when the free offer ends at the start of 2014. The first step is to get business to integrate Google Business into the daily activities of employees, make it essential and deep rooted. It's the dealer model, give it to them for free until they are hooked.
The only question left is will Google build the Customer Relationship Management solution themselves or buy somebody? Our guess is that Google opens up the Google Wallet and makes the purchase sometime in 2013. The disruption cost for organizations to switch from the likes Salesforce.com to a new Google offering will be the hardest hurdle to overcome.
As we mentioned previously, the pair has worked together to incorporate CRM's app. It would be a lot easier to buy Salesforce.com's customers that lure them away from their existing relationship.