Whirlpool says Google's consumer focus gives Apps an innovative edge

In another example of how the lines between business and personal computing are blurring, Whirlpool has decided to use Google Apps because it's convinced that Google's focus on consumers gives it an innovation edge in enterprise software.

The way Whirlpool sees it, battling in the ferociously competitive and fast-changing consumer Internet market forces Google to innovate at breakneck speed and to stretch its technology vision into the future.

"You get the relentless consumer-based innovation pressure on the products that can then be promoted into the enterprise suite," Whirlpool CIO Mike Heim told the IDG News Service after Google announced the deal.

Over the coming year, Whirlpool will move about 30,000 employees globally from an on-premises IBM Lotus Notes email and collaboration system to the cloud-based Google Apps suite, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Docs and Drive.

Ironically, Google rivals and critics often say that Google's consumer focus is a reason not to use Apps in the enterprise. They point out that Google generates most of its revenue from online advertising delivered through its consumer online services, and argue that IT leaders should question whether they want their email and collaboration systems to depend on a company whose main business isn't enterprise software.

But for Heim, it's the dual commitment to both the consumer and enterprise markets that makes Google such an attractive vendor. "We get the chance to leverage that relentless innovation in their product into our core capabilities," he said. "We like that model."

Heim acknowledged that Whirlpool wasn't using IBM's latest and greatest wares, and that the decision to switch to Apps was also driven by people's familiarity with Google's online services in their personal lives.

"We bought into the Google notion to work the way you live," he said.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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