Google's Undeclared Unified Communications Strategy
Google is a heavyweight in any sector in which it chooses to compete. It has set its sights on unified communications. UC, however, is a tricky field. The added complexity in this case is that Google hasn't announced its strategy. A report from Frost & Sullivan delineates the company's strategy and suggests, as others have, that its prime targets, at this point, are small and medium-sized businesses.
Google doesn't really call it unified communications. At this point, it is important to see the broader picture and not be limited by the labels given to a sector by outsiders. In other words, Google has made many moves – they are outlined in the Frost & Sullivan release and elsewhere – that create a deep UC platform. But, at the same time, it doesn't say in an outright sense that it wants to be a UC player. It is taking the steps and establishing the platform – but not using the name.
The strategy is a work in progress. Frost & Sullivan suggests that Google's UCC platform is geared more toward small and medium-sized businesses than to enterprises.
Current Analysis' Brian Riggs makes a great point in this No Jitter post. The UC and UC-like products that Google offers are free. This is great in the consumer sector, but enterprise users generally pay for things – and then threaten not to pay for them if they aren't tweaked in a direction more to their liking. The free nature of the products removes any impetus for Google to change them and the normal mechanism by which enterprises would drive these changes. Thus, in the final analysis, what Google offers may not be precisely what the organization is looking for. SMBs may use imperfect products to save a few bucks, but enterprises are much less likely to.
As Gary Kim points out at TMCnet, UC may be a fancy way of defining the new voice infrastructure, with some added bells and whistles. While many people say that UC is a whole lot more, the old challenge of defining things clearly still exists. Google is bringing a lot to the table – but, unfortunately, clarity isn't one of those things.