gSocial Conference: Some Final Google Apps Partner Thoughts
The afternoon sessions of the gSocial Google Apps partner conference went a lot like the morning, with panel discussions and general schmoozing amongst the resellers and ISVs in attendance. Here are some highlights of the last few discussions — along with some final thoughts.
Without further ado:
- The overall sentiment of a discussion panel titled “Competing Against Microsoft” was that Office 365 is more of a marketing obstacle than a technical one. Panelists from reseller firms Esnatech, Business Intelligence 101 and AccuCode repeated many of my own criticisms of Microsoft’s cloud suite, from its reliance on desktop software to its relative unreliability. But Google Apps partners are finding that customers, especially at larger firms, still see Microsoft as a necessary business partner regardless of cost.
- The “Channel Development Best Practices” panel discussion made it pretty clear just how fledgling Google’s channel efforts really are: The ISVs in attendance tried their best to talk out the best way to help resellers succeed, proposed various methods of engaging with prospective partners, and essentially showed their lack of experience with working under an indirect sales model. It’s understandable — but it sounded like a lot of Google ISVs could use a channel coach.
- The “Selling into the Enterprise and SMB Markets” panel discussion essentially discussed how the Google Apps platform has been maturing, with some praise reserved for how quickly Google adds new features and works to address shortcomings.
Overall, I came away quietly impressed with the gSocial conference. It’s not that I’ve ever had a bad experience at one of these conferences, but the resellers at gSocial definitely kept the “social” part in mind, with the interstitial networking and hobnobbing causing several panels to start late. But no one seemed to mind much, and a good time was had.
It’s a small conference, and 90 peercent of the day’s events took place in the same room, which seemed to encourage camaraderie and loose talk. There’s talk of expanding gSocial or perhaps even launching a complimentary event on the East Coast. But I can’t help but wonder if the conference is exactly the right size and shape now, with Google Apps partners encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get some much-needed insight from each other.