Sprint business customers will soon be able to purchase and bundle Google Apps for Business on their wireless bill. The nation’s third-largest carrier will also provide technical support and enterprise mobility advice to its customers as part of the new partnership.
The network operator is developing new lines of support for Google’s suite of cloud-based services by training sales staff, engineers and customer care representatives to troubleshoot and consult enterprise mobility managers and their end users.
Sprint is angling to be a more trusted advisor for businesses moving into the cloud by providing customers with a one-stop shop for devices, wireless service and collaboration tools. “We really feel that we can differentiate on a couple different levels,” says John Tudhope, director business product marketing at Sprint.
Sprint intends to devise implementation programs for the unique needs of each business, working with customers from beginning to end as they to the cloud, deploy new services, change management protocols for employees and provide backend support. Overall, the level of support will be much greater than that which businesses currently receive from Google because of the larger company’s limited resources for direct sales and support, Tudhope.says.
“There’s a lot we can bring to the table versus a business having to deal with multiple vendors,” Tudhope adds. “We’ve seen over the past couple years a lot of discussion around cloud services with our current customers. It is coming up more and more in conversations. We just think we’re on the cusp of explosive growth in the U.S. for services like Google Apps.”
Although Sprint says it’s confident that now is the right time for it to be in the market to enable movement into the cloud, that switch-over is still a “culture change” for employees that carries many complexities, says Tudhope.
“We want to help customers be more productive, more mobile,” he says. “We’re not really targeting one segment over another, but this clearly plays very well in the mid-market space” where companies may be slower in embracing the cloud.
The company plans to target existing customers with the offering early on, but Tudhope says he also believes Google Apps for Business could provide valuable inroads with a company it doesn’t have a relationship with today. “We think that Google is a great partner to be disruptive in this space with us,” he says.
“Our partners are critical in this effort, providing valuable cloud and mobility solutions to customers of all sizes and across diverse industries,” Murali Sitaram, director of strategic partnerships for Google Enterprise, says in a prepared statement.
Google Apps for Business will be available to Sprint business customers beginning on August 18 at Google’s standard rates of $5 per month or $50 for a full year. Businesses can also upgrade to unlimited storage for $10 per month or $120 per year. Customers will gain access to 24/7 support and online training at no extra charge.
“This is an agnostic type of offer, so whether a customer has one line with Sprint or hundreds of lines with Sprint, we’re happy to work with them,” says Tudhope.
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