Will Google Buy Salesforce.com?

SalesforcegoogleThe world is being “disrupted,” and that’s a good thing, said IDC. At its Directions show here this week, the company made some predictions regarding changes in IT and how to find the good in them.

If you believe Frank Gens, senior vice president of research at IDC, one of those changes is that Salesforce.com will be bought sometime this year, and not by a company you’d think would buy the software as a service (SaaS) darling, either.

He predicted Google or Yahoo would purchase the firm as a way of moving upstream into the enterprise market from their consumer roots. The notion flies in the face of Google’s own feelings on the subject.

“Our focus is and really ought to be applications that have a place in both the consumer world and the enterprise world–to take advantage of the big Google that everybody knows… If they don’t have consumer analogs, that makes them [applications] much less interesting,” David Girouard, president of Google’s business division told internetnews.com in December.

Charlene Li, principal analyst with Forrester Research, sits more on Google’s side of the issue, not believing Google would pursue a company like Salesforce.com. “They understand ad markets, not enterprise sales forces.”

A Salesforce.com spokesperson told internetnews.com the company does not comment on market speculation.

Gens made some other predictions on the SaaS world. He said that either this year or in early 2008, a sleeping giant will awaken. IBM up till now has been rather quiet when it comes to SaaS, but it won’t be for long.

IBM will shake up the SaaS space at full throttle with its WebSphere family. Microsoft and SAP will also turn things up a few notches with newer products aimed at the smaller markets.

SaaS has primarily been a large enterprise phenomenon, but IDC believes this is the year for small and medium-sized business (SMB) to come online. SMB makes up 70 percent of the economy and 50 percent of overall IT spending, or $350 billion in untapped potential.

Gens predicted SMB IT spending this year will increase twice the rate of large corporate spending, and in the process demand lower cost and simplicity of use.

This change in IT will be driven by the new generation of workers who are comfortable in a Web 2.0 world and who expect it at work. It was younger workers who brought instant messaging into the corporate space, Gens said, bringing a habit they had developed at home into work, and they will do it again.

“They have blurred the line between work and lifestyle and have a low tolerance for lag time between work and their lifestyle,” he said.

This echoed an earlier speech by Danielle Levitas, vice president of consumer and broadband markets for IDC.

“There is no longer a line between personal and professional life. They have forever blurred, for better or worse.”

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