Google takes enterprise promotion campaign global
Google Inc., not known for using conventional marketing to promote its wares, has nonetheless found that such an approach is effective for its enterprise products and will roll out internationally a campaign it launched in the U.S. in August.

The “Gone Google” campaign is aimed at IT and business executives who influence IT purchasing decisions, and is designed to sell them on the benefits of using products like Google Apps and the Search Appliance enterprise search device.

The campaign, which is also being extended in the U.S., will involve billboards and signs in airports and train stations, as well as ads in major online and print publications in the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

The campaign focuses mainly on Google Apps, the company’s Web-hosted suite of collaboration and communication applications, whose “cloud” software-as-a-service (SaaS) architecture Google maintains is a superior alternative to managing on-premises software.

In Canada, Google highlighted customers such as Delta Hotels in Toronto and Sotheby’s Real Estate in Vancouver, both of which, the search giant claims, no longer have to deal with the hassles of managing e-mail servers or rolling out software updates.

The company is intent on convincing businesses of all sizes, but in particular large enterprises, that Google Apps is less costly, easier to implement and maintain, and makes possible better workplace collaboration than on-premise options such as those sold by Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp.’s Lotus division.

“The idea behind ‘Going Google’ is that companies switch to Google Apps and it’s a real transformational change,” said Tom Oliveri, Google’s enterprise marketing director.

Of course, Google isn’t alone in the SaaS market for collaboration and communication software, where Zoho and Yahoo’s Zimbra also compete. Meanwhile, IBM and Microsoft are busy re-tooling their on-premise software to work on the cloud as well.

Google, like other SaaS vendors, also faces skepticism over the security, privacy and reliability of Web-hosted applications, which reside, along with their data, at external data centers beyond the control of an enterprise’s IT managers.

Still, Google maintains that it is making steady progress at winning over large corporations. Some recent large deployments of Google Apps Premier, which costs US$50 per user per year, include 20,000 users at Motorola, 35,000 users at Rentokil Initial and 7,000 users at Konica Minolta.

On Sunday, Google will announce its latest Apps enterprise win — MeadWestVaco Corp., a global packaging company based in Virginia that has signed up for 17,000 users.

Currently, Google Apps is in use at more than 2 million businesses by more than 20 million end users, although the company doesn’t break out how many of those deployments are of Premier, the paid version of the suite.

Over the past year, Google’s enterprise team has doubled in size to about 1,000 employees and the company is actively recruiting to continue beefing up the staff, Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said.

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