I’m actually a user of Xero for three of my businesses, so I was looking forward to seeing what their inclusion on the marketplace would actually for for me. Calendar integration maybe, or email, or at least single sign on.
I clicked the link and was taken to a Google Apps Marketplace page which was sadly devoid of any link that would actually provision the service – it seems the page is no more than a shop front listing with a link to Xero’s own page to purchase.
I have to say I was pretty disappointed and wrote as much to Xero CEO Rod Drury. His reply was short and sweet, he said that:
Step one. Its a pain to register. Not interested in SSO. Opens a security issue and we have a banking ecosystem to keep happy.
I quizzed Drury on what he actually meant by it being a pain to register – he was a little vague on this so I moved on. Interestingly enough though, I spoke to a couple of other vendors on the marketplace who told me that the registration is a form with nine or so fields on it, followed by another form with 15 or so fields to list an actual product. Not overly onerous.
Anyway, I was more interested in the alleged security issues that Drury feels single sign on create. I tried to get an indication from Drury as to what issues SSO would create (bearing in mind that SSO is used extensively in the largest of enterprises for both on-premise and cloud based applications). His response was that:
I don’t write code anymore. But obviously it opens another trust service. As we are connected to banks, we need to ensure xero is very secure.
Which speaks to some perceived, if not actual concerns. Something that I understand a vendor that deals with banks on one hand, and accountants on the other (not two of the most forward thinking classes of entity know to personkind) needs to think about.
More broadly though it isn’t fantastic for Google to have lots of vendors listing on the marketplace who aren’t actually integrated with them. It makes the place a little too busy, lessens the potential value to end users and, at some level, brings into question the marketplace model.
I put this to Scott McMullan, Enterprise lead at Google, who responded by saying that:
folks who integrate with us (at some level) are free to use the marketplace and we’re happy if they get some benefit deeper integration typically leads to more benefits but it’s their choice
Which is a nice on-brand reply, but I’d be surprised if McMullan isn’t as frustrated as I am at the hesitancy some vendors show to deeply integrate on the marketplace.
App stores have a due role – one is vendor-centric and that is enabling solutions to be found. The other is user-centric and that is giving customers the ability to drive benefits from integrations. Any marketplace that is weighted too heavily towards the vendor perspective runs the risk of missing its true potential.