Google and Salesforce – A creative duo

When I think about Google and Salesforce, a very distinct trait comes to picture. Both the companies are doing exceedingly well and one common thread that runs between them is they work very hard to differentiate. Google was born after Yahoo. They could have just gone along and trusted their super search algorithm to make it work for them. But NOPE. With their search algorithm, they could have just sustained in the present. As time went on, no amounts of tweaking the algorithm will keep them ahead. So, what they did was to invest in future. How? They did it through ideas! The 80/20 principle.

Imagine working at Google – 1 day of every week is the day you can work on the most creative thing you have invented or thought of. With that in place, even the people who think they are not creative will become creative. Yes, there would be plethora of ideas and it would be impossible to manage. But what people miss is this – this idea fodder will feed Google forever. Even if creative people leave Google, the impressions they are going to make on Google is so immense that Google will actually benefit from it. Google differentiated from Yahoo and became a leader. The idea is so cool that, even if today Yahoo calls it out and starts to implement 80/20 principle in their company they might actually beat Google. But we all know about corporate hubris – it’s far more bigger than individual creativity. Yahoo will find it shameful to follow the trail of Google. But it could only be justified if they come up with their own creative idea generation. Whatever process they follow – they need to label it and let it hang out there so that everyone at Yahoo is aware of it.

Now about Salesforce. They differentiate a whole lot different than any other company.  They follow something called the 1% solution. This is far bigger than what Google does. In this company we are no where at the individual level. It’s at a community level. It’s a about giving back and there by attracting more. You can only give if you have. The more you have the more you can give. Same reason why Warren Buffet can give so much money – because he keeps having more and more. So, Salesforce went up to a higher level by basing their company on the principles of giving back to community. It’s not about the individual anymore. They are aiming far bigger than Google. Salesforce may not be as big as Google in the markets, but among community it’s far bigger than Google. It’s not about us looking at these companies with a competitive eyes. These companies are excelling in their markets because they are differentiating. There is no other company I know of so far which does this 1% solution.

Imagine a company whose roots are based on giving back to community like Salesforce. And whose financial momentum is based on 80/20% rule like Google. Now that would make one great company. The GForce!

Offline GMail

Update: Almost 2 years after I blogged about this – Google came up with an offline version. Check it out here

On the Memorial day I went to Chicago to attend a conference on Microfinance( I want to write about this, sometime soon) and also to see my in-laws who live there. I happen to take my laptop along with me thinking that I would spend some time to read my e-books or at least work on some ideas I have been playing with. The Southwest flight was packed and I got sit between two hefty people. That was not at a problem as I had my own entertainment for the next 4 hours. But when I saw my neighbors using their laptops, I was intrigued to see that they are using their spare time to reply all the email they have got and probably catching up with the missed emails.

As of now in my GMail I have 61 unread emails (only Inbox) there are at least couple of hundred in unread email in my other folders. I could have used those 4 hours to read my unread email and probably reply to couple of my friends. But I couldn’t do that because I use GMail. Well, I know I can get my Gmail into my outlook/Thunderbird and read it offline and be happy with it. But I don’t use any other applications as much as I use my browser. With Web 2.0, the browser is the platform. All the earlier application which don’t have any web interface are turning into one because people like to use only browsers and most of them will.

So, I was toying with an idea of how cool it would be if we can have a browser extension which would make GMail access available offline. It wouldn’t be very tough to do something like that. I have known people using Apache Derby for a lightweight database written in Java, which could be used on the client side. All you need to do is to have a local server (Google Desktop already does this) which would check for internet connection and fetch the top 100 (may be inbox only?) and put them under local Derby database. When offline, you still can access the emails and there would be a wrapper around this which would basically use GMail API to send all the offline written emails.

This would solve my problem of being able to see my emails offline and responding to them. Also if you look at the latest technologies – the focus is getting more and more towards “highly intelligent local systems” which can operate both with a internet connection or not. It makes life so easy. And Adobe has taken a step towards that and calls it – Apollo. But you know how Adobe can lock you in their technology platform.

But what was such a sweet surprise was – only couple of days back – Google released something called – Google Gears. I was so surprised to see something coming out exactly when I was thinking about it. Now with Google Gears, what Google has made possible is – it created a framework for creating offline applications just using Javascript. What an amazing idea. It would be matter of days, before there would be applications popping out for GMail, Maps, Google Docs – imagination is your limitation. I know it may not sound as cool as I am describing it here, but believe me when I say as a developer – I don’t have to learn any new Adobe’s proprietary language to do this. I can use my good old Javascript skills to do just this. That’s empowering and liberating for a application developer.

I am waiting for my offline Gmail access now!