September 16, 2012 - Comments Off on Going Google: Google+ Apps for Enterprise

Going Google: Google+ Apps for Enterprise

Claire Hunter-Smith, Bloom’s social media manager

Our social media manager, Claire Hunter-Smith, asks what the integration of Google+ with Google Apps will mean for businesses and how the industry has reacted…

What’s new?

Thanks to the integration of Google+ with Google Apps, the social network has been making headlines once again. What Google seem very keen to do with the developed service is to encourage businesses to use the network as part of their day-to-day work.

This is both a positive and sensible move by Google, as businesses have much to gain from using Google+, and can achieve a different set of objectives here than on other social networks.

Described as ‘going Google’ by Clay Bavor, who is the Product Management Director of Google Apps, businesses can now use the web-based apps employed widely by everyone at home and on the move, namely Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (file storage in the cloud) and take Google to work.

What does this mean for businesses?

  1. Keep it in the company Businesses will now be able to share updates and posts solely with people in their organisation.  These posts are marked as restricted, which means that nobody outside the business can share them, and they can’t be re-shared. Restricted hangouts have arrived too and this means that private company meetings can be held on Google+.
  2. Hangouts get integrated Hangouts have been the most regularly discussed feature and key differentiator for Google+. Now they have been integrated with Docs, Calendar and Events. This means that video conference calls can be held with an internet connection and a webcam, with document sharing and editing as part of that live conversation.
  3. More to come: Google promises a mobile version for enterprise users, plus further controls for administrators.
  4. Protected data Google has suggested the restricted posts should be used for the protection of confidential data, and the prevention of employees sharing it with anyone externally via Google+. This could be a game changer because it taps into the fear every company has to address before they create a page on a social network, and provides the peace of mind they seek.  It will be interesting to see if this is picked up by other networks as it could, in my opinion, become the tipping point for businesses moving from intranets to using Google+ for internal comms.
  5. Sharing is caring In this case, Google+ can help businesses to respect their employees time, and more importantly, save it!  By being able to edit documents in front of each other, the participants of the hangout can get the work done during the conference call that previously had to wait for the next steps.
  6. Do business on the go Being able to use Google’s full functionality on the move has been a long time coming. It will surely be welcomed by businesses and the people who follow their updates alike.

Why does this matter and how can it help businesses?

To read the detail on the updates straight from the horse’s mouth: Google enterprise blog.

Industry reactions

  • The FT sees the updates as taking on “the likes of Microsoft’s Yammer and Salesforce.com’s Chatter.”
  • Mashable reported the facts on this update but didn’t go into any details about their thoughts.  However, it is interesting to note that they did report that the first ever film trailer to debut on Google+ Hangouts will be Lincoln on 13th September.
  • Richi Jennings, Forbes stated that “this could be strong competition for Microsoft’s more expensive Office 365 service.”
  • Boonsri Dickinson says, on Byte, that some people have said it is attractive for small businesses to store data in the cloud, but added: “[F]or large organizations, moving all the way on the Google cloud infrastructure may have too many moving parts as features can change on a whim.”
  • Fruzsina Eordogh makes a couple of really good points on Read Write Web: “The new features are available for free until 2014, but the company has not announced what the eventual pricing will be […]Google+ hasn’t been able to significantly challenge Facebook in the consumer social networking space, but the enterprise market is much more wide open.”

I think Fruzsina’s final point is key – Google+ is not seen as ‘worth leaving Facebook for’, but there is a great deal of whitespace it can really own in the business arena.

What do you think?  Will you be trialling the new features for your business while they are free?