This year Santa decided to spoil Christmas for social business vendors and put a new player under the tree: Google+ (uhuu…surprise, innit!?) As reported by techcrunch.com (http://liten.be//ckd7t) Google is adding a new perspective to its (whoever you’re asking) slowly or steeply growing (not meant to be a) social platform. Just recently Google Germany’s Country Manager Dr. Stefan Tweraser stated at the Social Media Economy Days in Munich that Google+ isn’t (and never was meant to be) a social platform and therefore is not to be seen as a competitor to Facebook. One might get the impression that the new ‘it’s for businesses’ could be just a stun grenade trying to simply take away from the ground for arguing against the success of Google+.
However, I was suspecting this move for some time already (yes, you may call me Sherlock). Here’s why:
1. Google went the other way around than social software vendors
As stated in the paper on social business transformation strategies (http://liten.be//3T3RA) and this blog post on current social business scenarios (http://liten.be//k4Vsj) I am strongly suggesting to integrate “social” with the actual information and knowledge work. Part of that is of course the creation and manipulation of data and information. Yammer, VMware’s Socialcast, 37signal’s BaseCamp, Salesforce.com’s Chatter, IBM’s Connections or SAP’s StreamWork don’t offer sufficient(!) content creation and manipulation capabilities. Microsoft is in the process of somehow integrating it’s (not so social yet) SharePoint product with Office 356 making the use of desktop software for the majority of information worker’s task redundant – everything could happen in browser and cloud.
For Facebook integrating data creation and manipulation services that even remotely could satisfy business users seems like a proper stretch to me. I would dare to claim that’s not even on their road map.
Google is already there. It’s not fully integrated (yet) but definitely close enough. They even share the same top navigation already. The final marriage with the Google+ social layer is only a matter of connecting the loose ends.
2. E-mail won’t go away…and Google has e-mail right next to ‘social’
There are voices that predict the death of e-mail. I strongly disagree because I truly believe that re-channeling a lot of falsely e-mailed information to social channels, chat and audio/video will lead to a rebirth of e-mail. We will be able to use this asynchronous channel again without being forced to apply extensive organizational skills to separate spam from valuable information.
For the classic social software vendor’s e-mail is more something exotic (if not diabolic) and probably a turf they don’t want to creep on. For Microsoft and IBM it’s something they have created full blown multi-functional environments for (Outlook, Lotus)…and integrating all their bells and whistles with the social layer will be challenging even thought it might look pretty simple at first sight.
For Google it will be more than easy to blend Mail and the Google+ environment…
3. …and if you need it synchronized: even presence is there already with Google Talk
The magic of the synchronized channel of unified communication and collaboration lies in the element of presence information (green, yellow and red indicator). It’s the only way that a synchronous channel can work properly (even some worker’s union reps might think it was invented by the devil of control and big brotherhood). Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts neatly flavour the asynchronous environment with some real time interaction (with presence indication built in of course).
It’s much better that Facebook Chat which completely messes with your ‘asynchronous’ messaging (it’s driving me nuts…seriously) and at least as nice as e.g. SAP StreamWork’s on-site chat integration. Let’s see how long it will take Microsoft to deliver their OOB integration of SharePoint with Lync/Skype – whereas Google already has a stand alone client and the on-site availability throughout the entire ‘work’ environment (Google+ & Apps).
4. If you are the master of search and relevance…you will be the master of activating solution knowledge and expertise in the context of people’s challenges
One essential key to the success of information work is that we eventually are able to ramp up knowledge management that actually works. Putting information in boxes with standardized labels hasn’t worked so far and it never will. Never. Period.
Being able to match data that is created with existing information in real-time would be a huge benefit. Now put yourself in the shoes of an information worker and add the Google search experience to more or less all bits and pieces of your daily work. With an easy on/off button (don’t ask me how that’s gonna work) you will be able to have a little fairy by your side all day that offers relevant documents, wiki entries, blog posts or experts to what you’re just writing into your document, workspace or e-mail.
5. Collaboration – for real
Google Apps allows to conduct same time collaboration throughout their productivity suite. Something a lot of other vendors are still struggling with. It’s nevertheless an essential functionality for really collaborative content creation, manipulation and development. With Google it comes out of the box…erm…cloud straight away 🙂
6. Work local – work global
Google Translate…what else to I have to say?
7. If blogs and wikis are the super social features…oh well.
Google’s been there, done it and got the t-shirt.
I could go on forever because you can match literally everything from photos to videos and from maps to news in Google’s portfolio to peoper business use. The fact that it’s already totally integrated and was born in the cloud cannot be a disadvantage 🙂
Ever since the CIO of an industrial manufacturing company(!!) told me that moving their most precious asset (= intellectual property) to the cloud is only a matter of price I truly believe in the future of the cloud. As soon as the proprietary data center has only a tiny cable to the outside world it’s all the same anyway (well…at the end of the day it is…).
Let’s see how long it will take until Google will replace Microsoft in the majority of small and medium enterprises. I even believe that for some larger companies it should be a big challenge to migrate.