Will Google enter the enterprise applications market?
It is a matter of time.
The recent GM announcement signal that the company is almost there. For many enterprises, the first business process to be put into place is CRM. Google will enter the enterprise application space in CRM to better leverage existing services.
1) gMail is becoming widely used in the enterprise. The cloud is proving privacy can work.
2) Email is the de facto CRM application. Sales, service and marketing all rely on email to connect with customers.
3) Google has great corporate data research with finance.google.com.
4) Searching for anyone (customer, prospect, etc.) involves a Google search in addition to searches in other services like LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Gist.
5) Alerts could be configured to prompt action based on search results.
6) Sales, service and marketing are becoming more about individual and less about the company due to social tools.
7) Microsoft and, Google partner, Salesforce are battling it out for cloud-based CRM. gCRM would be less robust, but give companies a reason to move from Office to Google Docs.
So what does Google need that they do not have today? I see 3 big pieces.
One, process across marketing, sales and service:
Process is a must. Organizations turn to a CRM system to give them best practices and process flows that they do not have. In my experience, all CRM clients are looking to improve process through technology — not the other way around. Process for marketing, sales and services organizations are very different, but all have a common thread of measuring the cost per call (also called contact, customer, or incident).
Two, sales pipeline and forecasting
Sales pipeline and forecasting is an extension of process, but it needs to be more flexible and dead simple to configure. Why? Because the average VP of Sales is on the job just 19 months. Every new VP of Sales will want to be measured by his or her own agreed to metrics, not by the old metrics that got the last VP ousted. This is very common and will be so for the foreseeable future.
Three, integration to back-end systems. Integration with back-end systems is one of the constants in CRM. This can be any system from ACD call routers to an ERP system. In the 30 or so CRM deployments I have been involved with, integration has played an critical part every time.
If Google will address these three missing pieces in a way that is robust yet flexible, gCRM will be a winner.