Google Spreadsheets Not Ready for Corporate Prime Time
Opinion: Business users need more ownership, tech support and horsepower in their applications than Google's new spreadsheet app provides.The new Google Spreadsheets feature is a very simple spreadsheet with very strong collaboration underpinnings. This is a big change from how Microsoft started out with Excel. Excel began as a powerful, programmable spreadsheet, which over time gained more and more collaborative capabilities. Excel has its own programming language that gave rise to a generation of spreadsheet programmers who could build an entire companys financial underpinnings on spreadsheets. Those macro command-driven spreadsheets would then be e-mailed around a company for comments. At some point someone would try to collect all those spreadsheets and come up with a common data set.
Eventually those spreadsheets were moved to a server, which made it easier to keep a spreadsheet version of a companys financials, but developing a rights and permissions scheme around who could or could not access or change a spreadsheet drove many an IT manager to distraction.
I read this morning about Google offering a Web spreadsheet. This goes back to a conversation about Yahoo and Google providing online apps, while offering no live tech support. While Google and Yahoo strive to encourage users to utilize their online apps, I feel their strategy is quite flawed. Where its flawed is the area of tech support. Both Google & Yahoo only offer tech support via e-mail. This is long and tedious to get problems resolved when a user wants to be productive again fast. If they classify the program as beta, then you get no help.... In a recent example my custom "My Yahoo" page stopped automatically updating. After 5 days of e-mail correspondence, it finally started working again. With phone/live tech support, it probably would have been fixed in an hour or two. With Google, its even worse ... Google Earth nearly took down a fire agency on the SF peninsula. The designer who wrote the program decided to store the map cache in the users profile. While its great for home users, corporate users who have roaming profiles suddenly had a profile that was 20GB to download. The bandwidth consumed by users logging on choked the network. Again, only tech support via e-mail, even after calling Google directly and pleading for live assistance for a public safety organization. Instead, I was given an e-mail address and the code word of the day. Two days later I got a correspondence from them.Is Google Spreadsheets a significant release? Read more here.
Both can offer tech support via a live person if they want and they should. Especially Google with billions they are bringing in ... Both organizations and for that matter any organization that thinks they can offer tech support via e-mail is sadly wrong. If you are going to offer applications for users and want to compete with Microsoft and other organizations, you have to offer live tech support. Whether its basic for free, one or two instances for free or advanced for a fee, users want a quick resolution to their problem.3. Horsepower. Why would anyone want to replace one pile of spreadsheets with another? Company financials should reside on financial accounting applications. Contacts should reside on CRM (customer relationship management) systems. Trying to make spreadsheets do applications for which they were never intended just wont work. eWEEK magazine editor in chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.