Five years ago, Google opened an online store called the Google Apps Marketplace to help its business customers find homegrown and third-party Web apps that complement Google Apps, the company's suite of productivity and collaboration software.
But search doesn't always provide the best discovery experience, particularly when customers don't understand the options. Sometimes it's easier to seek advice from a friend.
In an effort to be that friend to its clients, Google intends to offer advice to business customers about which third-party apps work best with its cloud-based software suite.
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On Tuesday, the company announced Recommended for Google Apps for Work, a program designed to recognize the third-party apps that most effectively enhance Google Apps. The program arrives following a Google Apps Marketplace redesign in September that aimed to improve app discovery and visibility.
"Our customers are asking for more guidance about which apps are well integrated and to make discovery and finding resellers easier," said Rahul Sood, managing director of Google Apps for Work, in a phone interview.
Sood said the software Google is recommending has been reviewed by Google and a third-party auditor for security and ease of integration. He said initially Google is singling out eight partners across five application categories.
"We've picked the categories that are most relevant to our customers today as they transition to the cloud," said Sood.
Across five categories, Google is recommending eight vendors:
- CRM: ProsperWorks
- Telephony: Ringcentral, Switch
- Project management: SmartSheet
- Document management: AODocs, Powertools
- Identity/Access management: Ping Identity, Okta.
For those companies chosen, Google's seal of approval should translate to greater in-store visibility, greater adoption, and greater revenue. For those that didn't make the cut, there's still hope for recognition.
Sood said Google's review of third-party apps is ongoing. "We work with application providers who do not meet the bar," he said.
Jon Lee, CEO and cofounder of ProsperWorks, the CRM company elevated above several dozen competitors in the Google Apps Marketplace, said in a phone interview that while Google has done a great job with its core apps, it has reached out to other companies to help it provide as wide a range of enterprise options as possible.
Lee said the review process was rigorous, involving a dedicated team that ran tests and audited his company's systems and business processes. "It took a few months," he said. "But Google is very serious about security."
Google also appears to be serious about strengthening its partner ecosystem. Last year, the company began offering independent software vendors the same support it has been offering its resellers, and then it raised the commissions it pays to its leading partners.
In addition, Google reorganized its partner program under a new name, the Google for Work and Education Partner Program, to help partners sell services more efficiently to Google's enterprise and education customers. In addition, its Android for Work program, introduced in February, includes a number of significant enterprise mobility partners.