Google Upgrades Corporate Search Engine
Hoping to become less dependent on Internet advertising, online search engine
leader Google Inc. is introducing a tool designed to make it easier for companies
and their workers to find vital information scattered across a maze of complex
The latest upgrade to Google's 4-year-old search engine for corporate America
underscores the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's determination to develop
other revenue channels besides advertising, traditionally a volatile market
vulnerable to unpredictable swings in spending.
With the improvement unveiled Wednesday, Google's corporate search engine will
be able to fish through a deep pool of data and display the requested information
in a box near the top of the computer screen so users won't have to scan through
This "one box" approach is similar to the system that Google deploys
at its own Web site whenever visitors are looking for information about local
weather forecasts or stock market quotes. In those instances, Google's search
engine provides a snapshot of requested information at the top of the results
To make the tool work for corporate search, Google teamed with several other
leading makers of business software. The list of partners includes Oracle Corp.,
Cisco Systems Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., NetSuite Inc., Cognos Inc., SAS Institute
Inc. and Employease Inc.
The collaboration reflects Google's desire to play a much larger role in the
business software market, said Whit Andrews, a research vice president for Gartner
Inc. Google's ability to "work well with other software vendors will be
absolutely critical to its success" in the corporate market, Andrews said.
"That (ability) hasn't seemed to be in Google's DNA."
Google has had limited success peddling its business software so far. In 2005,
Google collected less than $75 million from software licenses, a blip in its
total revenue of $6.1 billion. Advertising currently accounts for 99 percent
of Google's revenue.
"We are certainly much smaller than the mother ship, but we are doubling
in size every year and are profitable," said Dave Girouard, who oversees
Google's corporate search division.
Some companies have been reluctant to buy software from Google because they
doubted a vendor specializing in consumer products would be able to protect
their data from computer hackers and other trespassers, said AMR Research analyst
But Murphy suspects many of those fears will fade now that Google is working
with well-established business software makers to make corporate search as quick
and easy as looking up information on Google's main Web site.
"This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for Google," Murphy
said. "The other (corporate) search engine vendors are all going to be
scrambling, trying to figure out where they fit in this environment."
The corporate search market remains relatively small, generating less than
$350 million annually, Gartner estimates. The major players in the field currently
include Autonomy Inc., Fast Search & Transfer and IBM Corp.
If Google signs up more corporate search customers, it may open the door for
the company to sell other software applications, such as its e-mail service
and recently launched calendar service, CEO Eric Schmidt said in an interview.
Schmidt described Google's corporate search engine as "a strategic beachhead
for solving interesting problems" in corporate America.