Google just launched “Going Google” – a marketing campaign similar to the Spread Firefox to encourage companies to switch to Google Apps in the workplace. While millions already use Gmail, the campaign is aimed at luring business and enterprise users away from Microsoft Exchange and Outlook. Google already claims to serve more than 1.75 million companies and judging by the flashy campaign, it hopes to increase that number in the near future.
Surprisingly, despite Google’s success in online and web advertising, one of the company’s key ad vehicles is the billboard. The company has reserved 4 billboards in major US cities and will run a new Google App-related message each day for a month. The campaign is expected to celebrate the benefits of Gmail spam protection, filters, high storage limits, email threads, Google chat, Google Docs and of course, what the company has always done well, search.
In an effort to rally advocates, the company has set up a Google Apps “Spread the Word” site where enthusiasts download marketing collateral and promote Google Apps within the workplace. The site slogan is, “Join the movement. Spread the word. Go Google.” The page is meant to help employees convince their IT administrators to switch to Google Apps, but I can’t help thinking this campaign could potentially backfire.
While Google Apps and Firefox share a common enemy in Microsoft, the project targets are completely different. Firefox enthusiasts advocate on behalf of the company directly to their friends and family. Meanwhile Google Apps enthusiasts are asked to influence the very people who are already more qualified to make IT-related infrastructural decisions. In other words, if you’ve ever seen a non-technical employee tell an IT administrator how to do his/her job, the outcome probably wasn’t pretty. Nevertheless, because Google’s services are extremely user-friendly, some great enterprise and business-level endorsements might better influence a workplace service transition. One testimonial from Vivek Kundra is particularly glowing.
Currently serving as the United States Chief Information Officer, Kundra is responsible for the country’s e-government and information technology. In 2008, as the CTO of the District of Columbia, he endorsed Google Apps as a cost-effective, scalable and easy-to-use collaboration platform. He deployed the service across the district’s 86 agencies to help its police officers, fire fighters and public servants. Using a number of Google applications including Google Earth, maps, documents and email, Kundra has been celebrated for bringing efficiency and cloud-based infrastructure to the District of Columbia. His work earned him a spot as a key advisor on President Obama’s transition committee on technology issues and from there he was appointed the federal CIO.