Thursday, October 20, 2011

Google Apps Plus, Coming To A Cloud Near You

A big story in the tech world yesterday (almost certainly overshadowed by the capture and killing of Colonel Gaddafi today) was an announcement that Google Plus is coming to Google Apps users. It's no secret I have been a fan of GMail and the whole Google Apps product line since its early days. But to add and presumably integrate all of the capabilities of Google Plus into the Apps suite is really a smart move.

Google Apps allows companies, large and small, to take advantage of cloud based office automation tools. Beyond mail and calendar functions, Apps offers document processing, spreadsheet and recently enhanced presentation tools. These tools have a unique feature in that they allow real time collaboration. You and several others can edit the same document at the same time with full logging, audit and rollback capabilities.

Apps includes a host of other tools including instant messaging (Google Talk) and web site management. In my view, bringing Google Plus into the mix adds three especially useful and valuable elements.

First, the contact management function becomes much richer with a new ability to manage, maintain and search full profiles. The current, more structured address book can be blended with the more flexible Google Plus profile to yield a new resource for locating people with specific skills or experience, both inside and outside the company.

Second, the interactive discussion model of Google Plus will quickly advance communications among employees beyond the conventional point to point or point to many email paradigm. Alerts will direct people to threads and speed interactions. The degree of collaboration within the company and even with customers and suppliers can be taken to a whole new level. Circles will emerge representing departments, cross functional teams, project groups, key suppliers, customers and so on. These can be developed and shared throughout the organization.

Finally, Hangouts will revolutionize the company meeting. They are fast, simple and when fully integrated into the workplace, will be quickly embraced and often used in lieu of physical meeting rooms. Copier and overnight express costs will plummet and travel time and expense can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Meetings will not have to be structured into one hour increments, limited by the availability of a conference room or videoconference equipment. The can be done at any time from anywhere, including a mobile phone.

I've probably overlooked other benefits that will fall out of bringing these sets of capabilities together. But I have no doubt this will increase the appeal of Google Apps and perhaps entice even more companies to take advantage of this service.

Captain Joe

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