Google for Work: A Web Giant Eyes up the Workplace

Google Enterprise is now Google for Work as the company focuses on B2B

Google Enterprise is now Google for Work and, as ever, there is more significance to this than a mere fancy for a new moniker. In his blog on the subject Eric Schmidt jokes about “the artist formerly known as Google Enterprise” and the Prince reference is apposite: this is Google hatching an escape plan from the slavery of the modern workplace. 

I have written here before about the boundless ambition of modern digital giants. Where once it sufficed for companies to dominate a single space (Hoover in vacuum cleaners, Gillette in razor blades and, indeed, IBM in computers), today the inexorable trend is to conquer all., Google, Apple… they all seek to take on the world and, like Alexander or Tamburlaine, their appetites for more are never sated.

Google’s opportunity is work and B2B because it’s already so powerful in B2C and wants to build bridges between the two worlds. But the Google Enterprise name sounded too IBM-ish or Microsoft-y. Google for Work is a sign-change that points to how Google sees itself: as a cheerleader, toastmaster and bellwether for a new way of working that is very different to the cubicle cocoon, 9-to-5, punch-the-clock world.

Google wants a future that is browser-based, inherently collaborative, low on upfront software licences, corporate datacentres and IT admin. It’s a place where innovation and ideas are prized and where there’s a regular trickle of new tools and trialled features. It’s effectively a bid to encourage other organisations to operate in a Google-like way.

However, not every company will work like an internet giant, constantly beginning new services and killing those that aren’t working. But if Google introduces services that support its Google at Work ethos then there’s a fair chance that some companies - those that admire the company and may well have enjoyed Jeff Jarvis’s book What Would Google Do? - will follow suit.

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect