Yesterday I had the chance to deliver the keynote at the Gartner ITExpo in Orlando. I took this opportunity to reflect on how business technology has evolved in the three years since I last spoke on this stage — and, as part of that, how Google’s commitment to enterprise customers has grown.
In 2010, the suggestion that a company could move all of its employees to the cloud was often met with skepticism. People relied on desktop computers and Exchange servers because that was what they’d used in the workplace for the past two decades. And, the few companies that did embrace the cloud tended to see it as a more cost-effective way to do things they’d always done. But over time, they started to recognize the transformational benefits of working in the cloud.
Today, moving to the cloud is not a questionable proposition — it’s inevitable. This is good news for IT staff, who don’t need to spend time maintaining servers and installing upgrades, and also for employees, since the cloud makes it easy to collaborate and get more stuff done quickly. Sooner than almost anyone thought possible, hundreds of large-scale companies have succeeded in moving their businesses to the cloud, paving the way for millions more to follow. Consider a few recent examples:
- Woolworths is Australia’s largest retailer, with more than 3,000 stores and a staff of 200,000. They moved to Google Apps and Chrome.
- The country of Malaysia adopted Google Apps for 10 million students, teachers and parents, and deployed Chromebooks to schools nationwide.
- And yesterday, Whirlpool — which owns Maytag and KitchenAid — announced that they’re rolling out Google Apps to help 30,000 employees collaborate and innovate more quickly.
These organizations realize that the cloud is not just a cheaper way to maintain the status quo, but also a way to fundamentally transform the way a business is run and how people can get work done together. Inviting 50 people to collaborate on a Google document in real-time is an order of magnitude more efficient than sending attachments back and forth to those same people. More than half of Americans now own smartphones, while PC sales are steadily declining. In their personal lives, employees expect to check email on their phone and join a video call from their tablet, at any time, from wherever they are. Increasingly, people want to bring these habits to the workplace so they can work the way they live.
Companies like Google play a pivotal role in this “consumerization of IT.” More than 425 million people around the world rely on Gmail in their personal lives, and now more than 5 million businesses are using Gmail as part of Google Apps at work. At Google, there are now thousands of employees — a substantial portion of the company — who help us build and support products for these business customers.
The real beneficiaries of this rebirth of IT are not technology companies, but the rest of us — business owners,makers, teachers, students and employees. Having the power of massive data centers and smart mobile devices at our fingertips makes it easier than ever to create, communicate, learn and collaborate.