Google Apps Can Win in the Enterprise if they Leverage the Business Trust Fabric
Posted by Bob Warfield on September 10, 2007
Lots of chit chat in the blogosphere about the announcement that CapGemini will be distributing Google Apps in the Enterprise–an apparent threat to Microsoft’s Office.
The reasons to do this seem to focus around the improved ability for teams to collaborate with Google Apps, and because it lets people who don’t have PC’s gain access to these productivity apps.
These are weak advantages at best. The team collaboration thing has to do with not having to send files as attachments, big deal. People are used to it, and it works. Not a strong reason to change. As for folks not having access to PC’s, I have to wonder how valuable it can be to give them access if their employers didn’t see fit to do it in the first place.
Techcrunch says that Nick Carr said (yeah, I hate that too, but it’s what happened) the problem was Sarbanes Oxley and security. Companies can’t afford to have their data on Google’s servers because it goes against Sarbanes Oxley. Whoa! Nothing could be further from the truth! And nothing gets us closer to a real opportunity for web apps to show Enterprise Strength over the desktop. BTW, I saw none of that in the Nick Carr post they linked to, but whatever, we’re on to something, let’s run with it:
Sarbanes Oxley, commonly called SOX, is all about requiring companies to button down processes for key areas. The theory is that if you button down a process, you eliminate potential for corruption, fraud, and other misdoings. It was enacted in the wake of scandals such as Enron in an effort to make future scandals less likely. As the accounting folks say, it mandates a set of internal procedures designed to ensure accurate financial disclosure.
SOX is extremely costly for most companies to implement, yet it is a requirement for public companies. It shaves millions off the bottom line and requires a considerable amount of process automation to be brought into an organization. Often, this is best accomplished by installing new software. Is the light beginning to dawn? Pray, let me continue.
There is no requirement by SOX that data has to be on a company’s own servers, just that the data be carefully controlled and audited. It should be possible to control exactly who has the ability to change the data, how they can change it, and automatic audit trails need to be kept of what changes are being made. Given how much information is commonly kept in Office-style documents, this is the real opportunity for Google and other web apps to take advantage of. It is actually the opposite of collaboration. Rather, it is applying better governance, security, and controls. It is enabling the creation of a Business Trust Fabric around the requirements of Sarbanes Oxley. This is something that current desktop apps do relatively poorly. I was at a public Enterprise software company when SaaS came into being, and I can tell you we bought some SaaS applications to help automate internal processes.
Do you still think it’s better to keep your data on the desktop in a SOX world? Phil Wainewright thinks your data is safer with a SaaS vendor. I agree. Being able to better satisfy SOX and other governance requirements is a golden opportunity for the SaaS world to kick it up a notch competitively. My biggest concern is that companies like Google don’t necessarily get the Enterprise world yet. They’re still thinking Socially. They need to understand that Business Web 2.0 demands a different Trust Fabric than Social Web 2.0. Once they figure that out, they’ll realize that SaaS and SOX are highly compatible bedfellows.
Zimbra claims SaaS apps have SOX problems: Google must have scared them for that kind of FUD to be launched!
I can’t believe how many are just reprinting Zimbra’s bogus claim that SaaS fails SOX!