Searching for UC With Google: Part 1
Is Google a player in Unified Communications today? Yes. Will it be an even bigger player tomorrow? Very likely.
This is the first of a two-part article. Part 2 can be found here.
One word that is slowly entering the UC conversation is "Google". Its name has become a verb in the English language and a question mark in the UC lexicon. The company created an empire by giving away services. Not simple services, like a hotel that offers a few free nights, but recurring services that become part of our daily lives. Google is pervasive in most online activities, and increasingly, offline as well. As the company blows apart business models it builds more loyalty among a larger base. But Google isn't a charity, it is generating impressive revenue and its paying customers appear to be just as loyal as those enjoying its free services.
Unified Communications is not a product, it's a result. The opportunity is in understanding all of our communication paths and tools and improving them to align better with our business objectives. In the past 20 years, communications and processes moved from paper to electronic-based systems. Our communication methods and types significantly increased and will continue to do so. Unified Communications provides a tool set and perspective to better improve communication, work flow, and collaboration. Tool sets are much harder to compare than products.
At first glance one might incorrectly conclude that Google does not offer Unified Communications. Google does not appear on any of Allan Sulkin's UC market share reports. Gartner doesn't mention Google in their UC Magic Quadrant study. And the various vendors considered in the UC space don't position against Google, at least not publicly. Google doesn't advertise or exhibit as a UC vendor. It doesn't have a sales force calling upon CIOs (to my knowledge) about UC. Unlike its UC competitors, it offers very few physical products, and it avoids public conversations. Even finding a Google phone number can be a challenge.
Evidently, none of this matters. The company has a loyal base of active users of their services and software--as well as strong revenue. Google is entrenched in businesses of all sizes. At the recent UC-focused VoiceCon conference, Google wasn't a sponsor or exhibitor. Google is definitely off the radar, in part because its UC services are free. Sulkin's reports, for example, are based on shipments, not downloads. Plus UC isn't exactly a well defined space. Very few or arguably none of the known UC players offer a complete solution.
Nonetheless, mention of Google made it into the VoiceCon Locknote thanks to Blair Pleasant, who said: "Google is on everyone’s mind".
The following is a summary of Google services from a UC perspective. The list is not exhaustive. It is organized by functional service areas. I've broken the summary into two articles; the first half begins today, and the second half will be posted tomorrow.