Ever since Gmail captured the imagination of consumers, Google has been trying to push Google Apps to enterprise customers. In spite of some news about problems in their implementation for big customers, it has been gaining traction steadily. The biggest attraction towards Google Apps Email over other systems is the cost. Even though other players like Microsoft and IBM have a cloud strategy, Google’s pricing makes Google Apps very attractive for many enterprises. The Google Apps Marketplace, an ecosystem of 3rd party products and services integrated with Google Apps, makes Gmail even more interesting for these customers.
Sensing an opportunity in the cloud email market, Cisco acquired a company called Postpath sometime back and started offering cloud based email under Webex email brand. Cisco thought that they could use this acquisition to make their collaboration and voice suite complete with email. After rolling out in a controlled manner to their customers wanting to test out the email service, Cisco pulled the plug two days back. They will no longer be investing resources on this service and they will help the current customers move out to another email system of their choice after their contract gets over.
What intrigued me in the Cisco blog post is the reason they have given for their decision to shut down the email service
In the thirteen months since, we’ve been market testing Cisco Mail via a controlled release. The product has been well received, but we’ve since learned that customers have come to view their email as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy. We’ve also heard that customers are eager to embrace emerging collaboration tools such as social software and video.
It is pretty clear from this post that Google’s attempt to commoditize email has been largely successful and competitors are finding it hard to compete with them on price. As Ms. Chrapathy points out in the post, email is completely mature and commoditized, a factor that can be attributed mainly to Google. Even though Microsoft has woken up to this reality and has started pushing cloud based Exchange service, I have a feeling that Google will ultimately win the race because of the expected success of Android in the enterprise market.
However, Google is having a weak spot in their Google Apps strategy. As pointed out by Cisco’s Ms. Chrapathy, social is fast reducing the role of email in any business. Salesforce.com recently highlighted how DeMatteo Monness, a financial services company, moved their conversation away from email to their Chatter service. We are increasingly seeing enterprises embracing social in their workflow and the emergence of services like Tibbr, Chatter, etc. only goes on to highlight how social is transforming the enterprise landscape for better.
Unfortunately, Google has absolutely no clue on how to execute their social strategy and it is going to hurt them badly sooner than later. With IBM firming up their Social Business vision, the threat to Google’s enterprise strategy is just round the corner. Either IBM (provided they execute their vision properly) or one of the newer players focussing on Enterprise collaboration may end up beating Google if they don’t get their social strategy right. They only have a small window of time to execute on their social strategy and stay relevant in the enterprise space. What do you think? I would love to hear from you on Google’s “Social Challenges” and how they can turnaround.
- Cisco kills off Web-based email service (downloadsquad.switched.com)
- Cisco kills off its hosted email product (infoworld.com)
- Google Is Trying To Get Exchange Users Through Backdoor (cloudave.com)
- Cisco Terminates Cloud Email Service (informationweek.com)
- Cisco nixes hosted email: Where does email fit in the collaboration mix? (zdnet.com)
- Cisco ends hosted Cisco Mail email trials (v3.co.uk)
- Cisco sends a recall on its cloud email strategy (zdnet.com)
- Certification program endorses Google Apps resellers (zdnet.com)
- Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email [Voices] (voices.allthingsd.com)
- Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email (blogs.wsj.com)