• April 19, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Google Gets Down to Business Apps

Google today offered up new technology that will allow corporations to search across multiple applications like corporate contact directories, CRM, and financial software. Google OneBox for Enterprise debuts with a set of modules for a slew of CRM-related vendors, including Cisco, Cognos, NetSuite, Oracle, SAS, and Salesforce.com, to extend the enterprise search capabilities of their respective products. Each Google OneBox for Enterprise module starts at $30,000. These modules will allow end users to search their applications using Google just as they would search the Web, and will give companies secure access to information in their enterprise applications using the convenience of the Google search box. OneBox searches and returns information from business applications, such as contacts, calendar entries, sales leads, and orders in a way that is easily grasped by the user, says David Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google's enterprise business unit. "We're tapping into information inside the business application. It's not just documents, but facts and trends." Cognos Go!, the version of the OneBox module for Cognos 8, will display report data like graphs and charts, visual representations of metrics stored in Cognos, and business intelligence reports, analysis, and dashboards. OneBox gives Cognos customers the ability to search unstructured business intelligence data, according to Don Campbell, vice president of platform strategy and technology at Cognos. Companies using Cisco's Unified Communications System will be able to use Google OneBox for Enterprise to extract media conference information, including calendar events and missed call logs. Salesforce will have 10 modules for OneBox, including ones for opportunities, contacts, accounts, campaigns, and customer support cases. Users can specify the name of a module followed by a colon to search one particular element of the Salesforce solution, or if unspecified, it will search across all modules. While Google has always been considered a search engine, Jim Murphy, research director at AMR Research, says Google OneBox for Enterprise isn't about search, but rather access. "You're not going to Google because you can't find something," he says. "You're going to Google because you already know where the information can be accessed from." The Cognos and SAS announcements are evidence of the continuing trend to simplify and extend BI to a broader range of end users, according to Murphy. "You're seeing the convergence of search and BI. It's a matter of finding the right report or data set from all the others you can extract from a BI solution." This BI trend is also representative of the CRM industry in general. "The failure of a lot of enterprise systems is a lack of end user adoption, particularly within the CRM segment. These applications haven't had the reputation of being user-friendly. Search engine access to these applications, such as Google, is helping to mitigate that," Murphy says. In time, Google's simple search interface could become the default user interface for business applications of all kinds, says Whit Andrews, an analyst at Gartner. "We see an increased recognition that the search box is the most familiar and broadly used means of accessing applications." Related articles: IBM and Cognos Cuddle Up a Little Closer
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