It's good to see that Google is beginning to push the marketing boat out for its Apps suite, the nearest thing to a serious challenge Microsoft's mainstay business has had since Bill Gates saw the Mac GUI and thought 'I wonder...'.
The new campaign, dubbed Going Google, should help the G-men get in the faces of potential customers with legions of stories of wonderful things that happened to those who have switched to Apps and dared to edge away from the Office/Exchange/SharePoint trifecta.
That's good: Google's business efforts are pretty much a secret to many organisations and the easiest way to get them to move is by showing them examples of peers and rivals. It's also timely as Microsoft has begun to whip up a frenzy over its own cloud computing plans around Windows Azure. There's a fork in the road and whoever grabs the productivity tools and collaboration space over the next few years should be able to keep hold of it for a long time.
Google has decent traction with small technologically-aware businesses but, for all the obsessing in the likes of Techcrunch and Mashable, it is tiny in the most lucrative space of them all -- big enterprises.
To persuade CIOs and CTOs to take its proposition seriously, Google might need to round out its offering a little. I'd like to see it move even closer to established business software-as-a-service companies like Salesforce.com, NetSuite, RightNow and SuccessFactors, whether through acquisition or (meaningful) alliance. Companies buying into Apps are usually doing so because they have a had a good experience with other SaaS projects and want to extend that halo effect to other aspects of the business.
Google should perhaps also be hiring more people with hard-won experience of talking to prospects at a high level and building a stronger channel than it has managed so far. The whisper even among many Apps fans is that it could use some business-to-business nous rather than relying on the pixie dust of its brand.
It may even be that Google needs to do something more drastic in the form of a spin-out that distances the Apps side of the business from the core search goldmine and thereby provides some added focus. That might sound drastic but then the prize is enormous and the big bets will be staked very soon.