Google may have ruffled some feathers with the first-ever price hike for its G Suite productivity software suite. But value, not price, will drive successful G Suite practices, and the former has increased at a far-faster pace, the company's channel chief told CRN USA.
The challenge for channel partners isn't winning the race to the bottom in a margin-squeezing price war, but differentiating their practices, said Carolee Gearhart, who took the reins of Google's channel last July.
That's why Google has been adding to G Suite capabilities that enable partners to deliver differentiated solutions. The build-out of the collaboration platform has been a precursor to a larger push to offer solutions, including across Google Cloud Platform, that "deliver a more complete value story to the customer," Gearhart said.
Numerous upgrades in recent years to the pioneering software-as-a-service offering are girded by an "underlying ethos of collaboration and customer value and innovation," Gearhart said. Google wants partners "to continue to drive differentiation, specialisation."
G Suite (previously called Google Apps) has expanded its capabilities in more than a decade on the market. The Basic SKU now contains five separate apps, and more than a dozen G Suite services have been released in that time. The platform has expanded storage and been infused with artificial intelligence and security, she said.
While Google saw those upgrades as justifying a higher price, the cloud provider tried to be thoughtful in its approach to implementing it, Gearhart told CRN USA.
That approach included a multi-month process of consulting with its largest partners about details, positioning and messaging, she said.
Even at a higher price, Google is confident G Suite "is still super competitively priced and incredibly sticky," Gearhart told CRN.
And partners are the main focus of Google's strategy to bring that product to market, as well as the larger solution-oriented approach to its entire cloud business, said the channel chief.
Google's channel is in a prime position to thrive from G Suite because the product isn't supported by an internal professional services organisation. The cloud giant overall only has a "tiny, tiny professional services organisation," Gearhart said.
"We want partners to be differentiated to make sure they really know this space, deliver a great app to customers that really solve their needs," she said.