[LINK] Google and business
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Nov 27 18:34:08 AEDT 2011
Ten reasons to be wary of Google in business
By Justin James October 21, 2011.
Without doubt, Google is playing a larger and larger role in business IT.
But as many have found out, doing business with Google requires certain
expectations to be set up front.
This is not to say that doing business with it is awful, or, that other
companies do not have many of these issues as well, of course. Still,
there are some good reasons to be wary about doing business with Google.
1: Customer support is not its forte
The biggest reason to think twice about doing business with Google is
that its organization is simply not designed to provide support for
customers. Google has recently opened some phone numbers for customers to
reach them, but by and large they prefer support to be email only (if
they provide it at all). This is a perfectly fine approach for a free or
ad-supported product. But if you are hoping to run a business built on
Googles offerings, youll want to check out the support options first.
2: Leadership has questionable views on privacy
Eric Schmidt (executive chair of Googles board) recently joked about
whether your Android contact list and most recent calls should be used to
customize advertising. Whether Google is heading in that direction or
not, no one wants to think that Google takes these matters lightly. Time
and time again, Googles executives (particularly Mr. Schmidt) have made
it clear that they will get as much data generated by your online
activities as legally and technically possible. Is that necessarily bad?
No. But their attitude seems to be that if you want any kind of online
privacy, you need to go through extreme measures.
3: It makes its living by leveraging information about you
Most users never stop for a moment to ask themselves how Google can do so
much for no cost to them. Of course, the answer is advertising, and that
is nothing new. But what makes Googles advertisements so valuable is not
just their wide reach but the selective targeting. You see, Google has
taken the same engineering that produced its excellent search engine and
applied the effort toward linking ads to people, based in no small part
upon the data harvested as a result of your daily interactions with them.
Of course, seeing ads on Google Search based on previous searches is not
a shock. But its a bit creepy (and occasionally embarrassing) when you
go to a site and look at products there, and then ads from that site
follow you around to every site you visit for months. If you want to know
what other users do with their computers, just look at what ads Google
displays for them.
In addition to the inherent privacy concerns (What if a hacker gets a
hold of this? and What if other sites figure out how to use this?),
there are legal concerns. As the government continues to subpoena
Googles data, it is quite possible that data concerning you will end up
in a government database, and who knows where it will go from there.
4: Its too willing to yank products and APIs
Google is famous for rolling out new products on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, it is also famous for pulling the plug on them. Sure,
other companies do the same thing. But Googles threshold for failure
feels a lot lower. Even more frustrating is when it does this with APIs.
It has become clear that Google opens APIs to study usage in the wild,
but once it has learned what it wanted to, Google shuts down the APIs.
This may work great for Google, but it is a nightmare scenario for
companies that depend upon its products and services.
5: Quality is sometimes lacking
Overall, the quality of Google products is high. But there are some
exceptions, and those exceptions (especially Androids issues) are quite
visible and damaging. Googles perpetual beta was cute when it was
Gmail or Orkut. When the same mentality is applied to your phones OS or
your business email, it is an entirely different story. Google seems to
currently view its target audience as consumers or small businesses for
whom its applications are not mission critical.
6: It has minimal contact with real-world users
Google takes an extremely data-driven approach to deciding how to do
things. For example, its usability changes are driven by massive amounts
of data. It will roll out a change to a small group of users (which
could be millions of people), observe how usage patterns change, and then
make decisions from there. Google is lucky to have one of the largest
user bases in the world for its applications, so it can take this
approach and have tons of data.
Google doesnt like user feedback, in large part because it is hard to
quantify. The problem is that it believes the data, not users. While this
isnt terribly surprising (IT professionals have plenty of horror stories
about how they did what users wanted, and it was a mess), it can be very
frustrating to work with Google or to hope for a particular feature or
change to be made. There just isnt a way for the voice of the customer
to be heard.
7: There are no SLAs
Google doesnt do SLAs because, for the most part, Google doesnt have
any contracts to use its services. Now, that said, Googles track record
with uptime has been pretty good; better than most, honestly. If you look
at its history over the last few years, an SLA is more a security blanket
for you than anything else, and it would not change how it runs its
business one bit anyway.
8: It has a consumer focus for features
One of the big reasons why Google has done so well is that its solutions
cater well to consumers, and by extension, small businesses. At the same
time, large companies have needs as well, and Google just does not meet
them. For example, where is the federated Active Directory authentication
for Google Apps for Business or the central management of Android phones?
Those are the kinds of things that businesses need but consumers and
small businesses do not. And until Google expands its focus a bit, these
needs will not be met.
9: You are not important to Google
If you are part of a business, the traditional customer-vendor
relationship is familiar, comfortable, and normal to you. But this is not
in Googles DNA. Googles main currency is actually your clickstream
data. Why does it give away Google Analytics? So it can collect
clickstream data? Gmail? Search? Same thing. Its APIs? More data to feed
the machine. Googles true business is to run a commodities market where
it is both the market itself and the sole producer of the commodity. In
Googles eyes, it is sellers market. You have no other choices, and
there are plenty of other people happy to buy that same commodity. Where
other vendors would work hard to keep you happy, Google does not even
bother to tell you to take a hike.
10: Google does not cater to business expectations
Google is really good at getting individuals and small businesses the
products they need for free or nearly free. But it struggles when doing
business with enterprises because the expectations are different. Google
succeeds with the smaller companies because they understand that you get
what you pay for. They dont feel that a service that is free, or nearly
so, is worth complaining about.
An enterprise, though, is often willing to pay more money to get certain
things, like no ads, preferential treatment, a dedicated account
executive, and SLAs. These are not bad things. But again, Google just is
not set up to do business like this (with the exception of Google Apps
for Business). Because it has such minimal interaction with you as
client, it isnt going to understand your needs, let alone try to cater
to them. If what it delivers is fine with you, thats great. But if you
want the handholding, customization, support, etc., that a traditional
vendor will sell you for an upcharge, Google isnt going to provid it.
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