Auckland Google event attracts more CFOs than IT managers

Majority of attendees are CFOs, reflecting a trend in IT reporting lines

When WaveAdept held a seminar in Auckland recently about Google Applications, 120 people turned up — but only a few were from IT. Most of those attending were business executives such as chief financial officers.

It reflected the frustration that businesses often experiences with the confines of traditional IT, says WaveAdept director Paul Fraser.

The company was set up a year ago, specialising in cloud-based collaboration tools for business transformation.

Business has been brisk, with upwards of 50 customers, 75 percent of whom have taken up Google Apps. Most of the rest are focused on Sharepoint.

There is a certain irony that many are moving to Google Apps. “When Microsoft announced it was going into the cloud, it legitimised that approach,” Fraser says.

Commodity IT, such as Google Apps is finding a ready market among professional services organisations, those whose employees may work at home, or are highly mobile and need to collaborate.

IT organisations such as Internet NZ and testing company Assurity are other recent customers of WaveAdept.

Penetration in New Zealand is also notable in tertiary educational institutes. Auckland University and Unitech are using Google Apps, while Victoria and Otago universities are evaluating them. Fraser says quite a few secondary schools are also looking at Apps, but there is a question of funding.

“Commercially, we’ve moved over the past three months from hundreds of seats to thousands of seats. We are currently looking at a customer with 12,000 seats.”

Typically, a decision to go with Google Apps might be made when an organisation outgrows its server and faces licensing increases.

The cost of Google Apps is around $70 per person per annum, though there are additional set-up and network traffic costs.

Fraser says that Sharepoint, by comparison, has a lot more workflow built into it but there is a lot more IT involved in implementation. “That quite often becomes a barrier to use. “Often, people buy Sharepoint, then don’t know what to do with it,” he claims.

The biggest challenge with Google Apps, he says, is unlearning old habits. A classic is where users want to use attachments where there is no need to.

Potential users typically ask questions about privacy, security and who owns the data.

“To put it simply, Google does not own your data. They do not take a position on whether the data belongs to the institution signing up for Apps, or the individual user.

“Google operates one of the most robust networks of distributed datacentres in the world.”

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