Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

Google’s Grab and Go Loaner Program is a Natural Step for the Tech Giant’s Enterprise Ambitions

by Pat Nolan | 08/21/2018

An Introduction to Grab and Go

For just over a year, Google has been developing and internally deploying a laptop loaner program they call Grab and Go. The premise is simple enough ̶ a PowerGistics shelving tower sits in an open area within a workplace environment, housing a stack of fully charged and enterprise grade Chromebooks ready-to-go for temporary users. The use cases range from urgent (like replacing a newly coffee-soaked or gravity-worn laptop) to it-just-makes-sense (offering frontline or shift workers with sparse computing needs a new self-service option) and beyond.

As cloud-based solutions become more accepted and as Google doubles down on its enterprise initiatives, this feels like a natural step for the tech giant and may be compelling for prospective channel partners in pursuit of device-as-a-service strategies. Admittedly, it is a baby step for the time being. That is because Grab and Go is not yet an official Google Cloud or Chrome Enterprise off-the-shelf product. Instead, the Google white paper introducing Grab and Go ends with a section titled “DIY: deploy it yourself” that links to the source code and instructions needed to do just that.

An Early Access Program offers additional information and support, but interested organizations are still largely on their own at this point. The internal IT resources needed to “deploy it yourself” are probably too much of a barrier for widespread Grab and Go adoption at its onset, but you can bet an out-of-the-box Chrome Enterprise Grab and Go solution is on the roadmap. An Early Access Program, after all, indicates that there is more to come. Counting on this, we expect Grab and Go to get Chrome Enterprise some attention in new business environments beyond its dominant place in education.

Grab and Go: Extending the Reach of Chrome Enterprise

There are plenty of other moves that Google is making in order to woo more business customers, but Grab and Go has the potential to win over decision makers in some key industries. A likely frontrunner is healthcare. Chrome Enterprise focuses on security-first solutions with speed and simplicity to boot. This aligns with the healthcare cause; it is an industry that demands security more so than any other (although it is top of mind for all). In our Enterprise Mobile Buyer Behavior report, healthcare respondents named security policy compliance as the top challenge managing their mobile estate and they were the only group to name security features as their number one mobile device selection criterion. A device’s battery life, quality, and price were more important to all other verticals.

Specifically, Grab and Go as a platform fits the bill as a way to introduce Chrome Enterprise to healthcare at scale. Our Buyer Behavior report finds that the overall 2017 ̶ 2022 CAGR for enterprise-grade tablets is small, only 0.4%. Healthcare, however, shows the most demand for this form factor with a far-leading CAGR of 3.2%. This does not represent massive opportunity compared to other form factors in other segments, but it provides enough room for Google to increase their share in the healthcare market.

We also find that laptops are the third most deployed device in healthcare environments, with about 27% of frontline workers having access to one. That places healthcare in the cost effective, it-just-makes-sense category of Grab and Go use cases ̶ not all employees need a laptop all of the time, but enough do for occasional computing needs (beyond the scope of smartphones and tablets) to necessitate their presence. Moreover, healthcare-targeted efforts by solution providers like VMware likely enhance the sector’s openness to the cloud. One healthcare organization, Mercy, has even leveraged VMware cloud-based applications to support a tablet loaner program that helps patients with educational and scheduling needs.

Warehousing and manufacturing operations both present Chrome Enterprise opportunities by way of Grab and Go as well. Frontline and shift employees of each have only infrequent notebook computing needs, and both sectors are given the most strife managing their mobile estates by a lack of end user support. An out-of-the-box Grab and Go program offer simplicity and usability with Google’s support alleviating intensive internal IT needs. Of course, corporate environments with mostly computer-bound employees offer a natural area of expansion for Chrome in the enterprise as well. Google’s internal deployment of the loaner program speaks to that ̶ they report a 90% utilization of their Grab and Go fleet with over 100,000 loans among 30,000 unique users in the last year.

The subject of Google’s Chrome Enterprise solutions is one that interests us here at VDC Research beyond speculation; we want to know more. There is a present shift in the way businesses want to deploy, image, update, provision, secure and manage their PCs, and the prevalence of cloud-based enterprise applications synergize with that to the effect of new opportunities for alternative OS platforms. We expect Google to be a key player in that regard, and that is why we are launching our Chrome OS in the Enterprise Market Intelligence Program (MIP). If your curiosity aligns with ours on this, be sure to learn more about this MIP here!

For more information in the meantime, look out for The Global Market for Notebook Computers report, which covers the overall market opportunity (market sizing and forecasting) for clamshell notebooks and 2-in-1 devices deployed to support enterprise and government line-of-business applications, and describes Chrome OS’ penetration into the enterprise market.

View the 2018 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.