Google is looking at its enterprise customers with greater integration of Google+ and Google Apps. On Wednesday the search giant introduced a preview of how Google+ features have been optimized for workplace users with specific integration of Google Apps and Gmail.
While Google+ hasn’t caught on to the degree that it will soon eclipse social heavyweights like Facebook, this new announcement shows that the company has a different end goal in mind.
“Google+ offers enhanced privacy controls and productivity tools via Hangouts and screen-sharing capabilities that all businesses can benefit from,” Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research, told the E-Commerce Times. “The service should be considered a social network for increased productivity rather than simply a social network.”
This move shows that Google remains an enterprising company that sees the potential in enterprise applications.
“It remains to be seen if Google were to gain traction in the enterprise, (if) that would also help Google+ on the consumer side,” Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Research told the E-Commerce Times. “It’s going to be a nice complement to other Google Apps for those enterprises already invested in the system. There’s a great deal of potential for Google+ in the enterprise, led by Hangouts. But it could be broadly used beyond that for group collaboration.”
Google did not respond to our request for further details.
Social Goes Enterprise
While Google+ was launched essentially as a consumer social networking site last year, the search giant did create a version devised for workplaces. And here Google+ could really be finding its sweet spot.
“It is very different from Facebook, especially in the enterprise space. It is really an enterprise social network,” Charlene Li, partner and founder of the Altimeter Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “Google+ for the enterprise is their secret weapon in the background.”
This enterprise secret weapon likely includes getting business employees to look to Google for email, for Google Docs and especially Google Calendar, said Li.
“They want to be integrated into everything you use,” she added.
The integration that Google is looking to provide could succeed where others have failed, simply because Google’s other applications are already so widely used.
“Google does have a better enterprise focus, but general social networks in companies haven’t had the best take-up,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “It isn’t a technology problem; it is an incentive problem, with many companies adopting forced ranking employee incentives work against collaboration because the employees are effectively in competition with each other.”
But this still could be an uphill battle, Enderle said.
“Regardless of the vendor, unless incentive programs that create penalties for collaboration are eliminated, I doubt any vendor will be successful here,” he added. “Between Google and Facebook, Google is better positioned to offer a business solution than Facebook is, but Google isn’t yet well-positioned as an enterprise vendor.”
Past efforts have called on strange bedfellows, where one-time competitors have needed to partner to succeed.
“Recall to move in that market, initially even Microsoft needed IBM as a partner,” said Enderle. “In the end though, even if you fix the incentives, I expect whoever creates a partnership with an enterprise class-vendor — Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle, EMC etc. — to roll out their solution will win, and that hasn’t happened yet.”
And yet, Google could win this one simply because it is looking at a solution that doesn’t aim to simply solve an existing problem — namely outpacing those already in the space.
“The goal for Google isn’t about overall numbers but getting a chunk of a company to use Google Apps and Google+. That’s a totally different game, and one that they can excel at,” said Li. “[The] goal wasn’t looking to compete with Facebook or LinkedIn. This was about bringing social integration and embedding it in Google.”