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Software as a Service (SaaS) is a Mesh

Everyone is talking about Microsoft’s Live Mesh, a new way to connect data and applications inside your computer to other devices on the Web. While everyone else talks about Microsoft today, I’d like to remind people that Google has staked out some interesting ground already.


Microsoft tries to bring PC applications online while Google, meanwhile, has been trying to bring the Web offline, which is another way to do essentially the same thing. Not content with waiting for HTML 5, when browsers will cache online apps for offline use, Google has been pushing Google Gears, which does the same thing but is available today.
Google appears to be building its own apps, but also relying heavily on partnerships with leaders in SaaS. While last year there were rumors that Google would buy Salesforce.com, what has emerged is a more complex series of deals that have brought the companies into strategic alignment. Perhaps these small alliances are a harbinger of a merger to come, but Google might want to make similar alliances with other vendors and remain more neutral.
Salesforce.com clients can already benefit from AdWords spots that automatically lead to a contact form that can be tracked by their Salesforce.com system. Google can also display Salesforce.com information from within its Google Search Appliance. Salesforce.com has supported Google’s OneBox initiative and is featured prominently as a partner.
Salesforce.com has its roots in CRM, but has been working to expand to a SaaS platform through its AppExchange marketplace, now backed by its Force.com SaaS platform environment. Now, Salesforce.com has added Google as a partner to its SaaS platform, a major coup.
This month, both companies announced some clever integration between Salesforce.com and Google Apps, so that office application activity is trackable within the Salesforce.com system. The integration itself is offered free, but Salesforce.com charges for Google Apps support, nicely solving Salesforce’s problem of how to make money on this and Google’s problem of how to provide support to businesses that demand it. A win-win-win for Salesforce.com, Google, and their customers.
So, what’s next? An ad-based model for a free or low-cost Salesforce.com offering? Another big partner, such as Intuit, who has been signing up so many small businesses to QuickBooks Online? Whatever it is, SaaS (and other forms of cloud computing) will continue to make headlines, and Google will make as many of them as Microsoft.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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