Microsoft has been the king of enterprise software for decades. As Gartner analyst Michael Silver puts it, “The biggest competitor to Microsoft Office, is the old version that people are already using.” That’s the market Google decided to enter with its Google Apps suite, and it’s done what many may have thought impossible just five years ago: It’s winning.
BetterCloud, which raised $2 million in May, is going to capitalize on that success with its FlashPanel management software that sits on top of the Google Apps suite. Already installed by 300,000 users, FlashPanel is entering public beta tomorrow and BetterCloud has partnered with eleven Google Apps resellers to get its product in front of almost one million users.
FlashPanel provides a front-end interface for some of Google Apps’ power-user features that are typically buried underneath menu after menu. The software is currently free to use, but BetterCloud founder and CEO David Politis says that the company plans to introduce a subscription model in the coming months.
“There are APIs to do almost everything that we’re doing, but most companies don’t have the resources, know-how, or time to build something like that,” Politis says. BetterCloud is currently working on deeper integration with Google Drive, Google’s collaboration and file-synchronization software released this April.
Politis chose to highlight FlashPanel during our talk, but it’s the company’s Apps Butler that caught my attention. A chatbot that users can communicate with via Google Talk on the desktop and mobile devices, Apps Butler is capable of performing a number of basic actions in a convenient way.
Say, for example, that a manager wants to address all employees with a single message. If that manager were to send that message to Apps Butler with the proper command the software would then page every employee with the manager’s missive. Or if an account needs to be deactivated, that same manager could send a simple (if arcane) message to Apps Butler and trust that the issue will be solved.
Politis says that several office managers that were shown Apps Butler and FlashPanel were most excited by the little ‘bot that could. That isn’t to say that users aren’t excited about FlashPanel – 300,000 beta users are proof of that – but does show that everyone wants to be able to take care of business with the most convenient device around.
With FlashPanel, Apps Butler, and around 100 how-to videos housed on “AskTheGooru,” it’s safe to say that BetterCloud is betting it all on Google’s continued success. Politis is clearly excited about Google Apps and believes that more and more companies will ‘go Google’. BetterCloud is his way of helping customers make that switch and make a powerful suite even easier to use.
“I want customers who go Google to be able to utilize a bigger part of their suite and help train their users to use different parts of the suite.”