SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Brian Riggs
Brian is a member of Ovum's Enterprise team, tracking emerging trends, technologies, and market dynamics in the unified communications and...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Brian Riggs | August 01, 2014 |

 
   

The Cart, the Horse, and Google's Business Communications Services

The Cart, the Horse, and Google's Business Communications Services They're not there yet, but at some point in the not so distant future may be able to boast a full and well-integrated set of communications services for business buyers.

They're not there yet, but at some point in the not so distant future may be able to boast a full and well-integrated set of communications services for business buyers.

Since the beginning of this year Google has been putting its business communications house in order. That house clearly needs some additional renovation and decoration, but it's in a much more presentable state than it ever has been before.

In typical Google fashion, this has been taking place in a series of announcements that on the surface don't always seem to have much to do with one another. So let's take a look at each and try to divine what the company has accomplished and what impact it's likely to have on buyers of business communications systems and services.

It all started back in February when, completely out of left field, Google decided that its next move into business communications would be not so much a new or enhanced service but rather a video conferencing system, namely Chromebox for Meetings.

If you're familiar with some of the $1,000 video conferencing systems that have been trickling onto the market lately, the Google solution offers few surprises. There will be an Asus, Dell, or HP device, a Logitech camera, a Jabra speaker, a Boxee-like remote, and BYOD (Bring Your Own Display). Chromebox for Meetings will use Hangouts as the backend video service, integrate with Gmail's calendar for scheduling, support audio connectivity via UberConference and InterCall, and interoperate with legacy video systems from Vidyo and Blue Jeans. All this is cobbled together into a $999 video conferencing system suitable for huddle rooms.

Things have been mighty quiet since the initial Chromebox for Meetings announcement. It's still not clear when Asus and the rest will start shipping systems, and specs for the Dell and HP boxes remain forthcoming. Hopefully we'll see a new round of product and GA announcements shortly. Looking over what specs are available, Chromebox for Meetings seems like it will be adequate for what it's trying to do, namely allow Hangouts to power connectivity not just between desktops but also small conference rooms. The price of the system is certainly competitive, though the service fees--$250 per system per year for support, $10 per user per month for UberConference, $99 to $149 per concurrent user per month for Vidyo H2O--raise TCO quite a bit.

Businesses Need SLAs...
I initially thought of ChromeBox for Meetings as a cart that needs to be preceded by the horse of a clear strategy for business communications services and solutions. Or, if you prefer, the horse can be a larger portfolio of Google-delivered video conferencing solutions for business. Or the horse could be a proper and better-integrated set of business-class communications services. Or, just to drive the metaphor firmly into the ground, this particular cart should be pulled by the three distinct horses of business communications strategy, business communications services, and portfolio of business-class systems.

I've already touched on the topic of Hangouts vs. Apps as services appropriate for widespread business use in a previous post, so no need to go over all that again now. Suffice it to say that businesses require reliable services, and two ways that providers demonstrate their services as reliable are via SLAs and top-notch customer service.

Top-notch customer service has not historically been a Google forte. There are signs that this is changing, at least for Google's AdWord business, which is reportedly getting 90% customer sat scores (up from 44%), as well as delivering 30-second wait times and video as a channel. It's been three years since Google got serious about customer service for Apps for Business. And in November, Google indicated that "the Google Apps support team will now provide the same level of help for Hangouts as they do for Google Talk, including 24/7 phone support." And the Chromebox for Meetings launch specifically addressed the customer support issue...even if a business needs to pay $250 per system per year for it.

...And Hangouts Now Has Them
Google Apps for Business has long had a published SLA, whereas Hangouts has--at least until very recently--been described as "not part of the core Google Apps suite" and "not covered by the Google Apps support terms and [is] not covered by the Google Apps uptime guarantee SLA." This is no longer the case.

In July, Google announced that Hangouts will be covered under the same Terms of Service that the company offers to Google Apps for Business customers. Google Apps for Business has a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%. It doesn't sound like much at first blush, given that carriers love to boast about five-nines of reliability. But three-nines is on par with what Microsoft offers for Office 365. And three-nines is three nines more than what Google Apps for Business users were getting for Hangouts before.

With the new SLA, Google has connected at least one of the horses to the Chromebox for Meetings horse. And at the same time, it has addressed what I've considered to be one of Hangouts' main deficiencies when it comes to its use for business communications.

Another horse--the "better integrated set of business-class communications services"--is being addressed with Google's announcement that users can place phone calls directly from Hangouts. This wasn't a business-specific announcement, so it's unclear to me if Google Apps for Business's SLA, which now encompasses Hangouts, would also cover the voice calling service that's now available via Hangouts. (I'm guessing not.)

And in another announcement, this one in June, Google started promoting Hangouts integration with web-based business apps such as SmartSheet, myERP, ZenDesk, and Zoho Connect. This has the potential of making Hangouts more relevant in the enterprise than ever, as it provides the real-time comms component for applications that otherwise lack real-time comms capabilities.

Despite all this activity, I think Google still has its work cut out for it when positioning itself as a trusted provider of business communications services. Google Apps for Business may be a viable alternative to Office 365 in the market for office productivity software. But Hangouts is still no Lync, or even Lync Online. It's clearly still suffering from "new product syndrome," with part of this week's big announcement being calendar integration...a feature that all mature video conferencing solutions support.

Yet Google is making clear, distinct, and very welcome steps to remedy things, and at some point in the not so distant future may be able to boast a full and well-integrated set of communications services for business buyers.

Follow Brian Riggs on Twitter and Google+!
@brian_riggs
Brian Riggs on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.