Google+ Gets Down To Business
Google rolls out several new Google+ features, eyes launch of a distinct Google+ enterprise service by 2014
Google+ Invites Enterprise Customers
Google on Thursday made its Google+ social network available to its enterprise customers, the 4 million or so businesses and schools using Google Apps. The company also released a set of new features to highlight popular public posts, to see who’s linking to those posts, and a photo editing toolkit for Google+ photos.
Google+ for Google Apps users is the same as Google+ for everyone else, with the addition of a predefined circle that can be used to share with people in your organization.
Organizations that have not opted to automatically enable new services will have to enable Google+ for their users and make sure their firewall settings allow related services like Hangouts group video chat.
[ Just getting started with Google+? Read 10 Essential Google+ Tips. ]
Hangouts works particularly well with Google+ because it supports screen sharing and collaboration with Docs, making it ideal for distributed work groups. Google connected Docs to Google+ Hangouts in September.
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“Whether you’re out of town, working on a project with a distributed group, or just don’t feel like walking to the next building for your meeting, Hangouts with extras can give your team the productivity boost it needs,” said Google product manager Ronald Ho in a blog post.
In conjunction with the launch of Google+ for Google Apps customers, Google says that almost two dozen universities using Google Apps for Education will be joining the 40 million people on Google+. University students represent an important constituency for social networks, as Facebook, which began as a social network for schools, has proven.
Google says it is building a migration tool that will allow Google+ users who created personal profiles to move them to over to organizational Google Apps accounts if desired. The migration tool should be ready in a few weeks, the company says.
Google+ also received some new features: What’s Hot, Ripples, and Creative Kit.
What’s Hot appears as a selection option below new posts and in the left-hand sidebar. It returns the most popular Google+ posts.
Ripples provides a form of visual analytics: It allows you to see a diagram representing how a selected public post has been shared, with links to those who have shared the post. It’s available, or will be soon for those still waiting for the feature update, through the disclosure triangle menu in the upper right-hand corner of Google+ posts.
Finally, Creative Kit expands the basic photo editing capabilities available to those posting pictures through Google+. Users can now add text and graphics to photos and have a wider range of filter effects at their disposal. The technology comes from Picnik, which Google acquired in March 2010.
To show off these new image editing capabilities, Google has added a limited-edition Halloween effects set and is asking Google+ users to share their Halloween-themed altered photos with the hashtag #gplushalloween. Google SVP of social Vic Gundotra says the company plans to enlist a surprise group of celebrities to announce their favorite altered photos on Thursday, November 3.
Thomas Claburn October 27, 2011
Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect,PC Computing, InformationWeek,…
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“We’re really taking the first big step in bringing Google+ to the enterprise,” said Clay Bavor, director of product management at Google.
When Google first launched Google+ in June 2011, it had to ask businesses to hold off. …
Google+ For Businesses Coming Later This Year
Google has doubled the number of people in the Google+ field trial, but business users will have to wait a bit longer.
Toward that end, Google provided participants with the ability to invite friends to the closed test of the service. A few hours later, the invitation icon was removed.
Google’s business customers, specifically users of Google Apps, have to wait a bit longer to try Google+. The Google Profiles service, a required component of Google+, has not been compatible with Google Apps for several months. Google engineers are working to remedy the situation but there are significant hurdles to overcome, particularly while Google+ is still working through various privacy issues.
“Right now, we’re very much focused on optimizing for the consumer experience,” said Google product manager Christian Oestlien in a video update. “But we have a great team of engineers building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+.”
Oestlien said that Google hopes to make its social networking service available to businesses later this year. “It will include things like rich analytics, and the ability to connect [a Google+] identity to other parts of Google that businesses might use on a daily basis, like AdWords.”
Oestlien asked businesses not to create consumer Profiles for Google+ in the interim.
Google will be admitting a small group of businesses into a Google+ pilot test to see how users interact with commercial brand Profiles through the various Google+ services, like Circles and Hangouts. Organizations interested in participating in the test should fill out this Web form, which Google has only publicized in a video shared among those already admitted to Google+.
Oestlien’s request comes too late for some businesses, like Ford Motor Company, which has already embraced Google+. On Thursday, Ford hosted a live chat with Matt Van Dyke, director of marketing communications for the auto company, and encouraged Google+ users to visit a Hangout, a multi-person video chat room, after the presentation.
On Monday, Ford Europe launched what may have been the first attempt at social marketing on Google+, a contest to write the best caption for an image, with the winner determined by the number of +1 votes. The contest garnered more than 80 comments, from which a winner was chosen and awarded the Xbox 360 game Dirt 3.
Yet, Ford is still figuring out how businesses fit into Google’s social landscape. In a post on Wednesday, the company said, “We’re experimenting on Google+ and we’ve seen comments, both pro and con, about our presence. What would you like to see from us, in order to get the most value from interacting?”
That’s a question a lot of businesses are asking both internally and externally, not just about Google+ but about Facebook and other social networks. Are businesses “friends” or something else?
…Google said at the time that it was focused on the consumer experience and that it would develop business-oriented features later.
In October 2011, Google made its Google+ social network available to its enterprise customers through Google Apps, its business-oriented online application suite. But it didn’t offer business customers anything specifically tuned to address corporate needs.
[ Where does Apple’s court victory leave Android? Read Apple Wins, But Android Game Not Over. ]
Since then, Google has added a few business-friendly capabilities, like the ability to embed a Google Docs file in a Hangout video conference and the ability to participate in a Hangout through Gmail.
On Wednesday, Google rolls out several new Google+ features, with an eye toward launching a distinct Google+ enterprise service by 2014.
First, Google Calendar invitations will gain the ability to launch Hangout meetings. “Attendees can come into meeting with one click, without having to fumble around with an 800-number or passcode,” explained Bavor. “This really speaks to how we’ve thought about Google+. It’s not this separate place to go to be social. Rather we’re integrating it throughout the product suite.”
Hangouts has long been the most compelling Google+ feature for businesses because companies were doing videoconferencing long before Google+ made it incredibly simple, and because the alternative–travel–becomes more expensive and less service-oriented every year.
Bavor recounted how Journal Communications has been using Google’s technology. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based publishing company, said Bavor, had promoted a manager in a remote office and, rather than requiring him to relocate to the main office, the company set up telepresence office for him. This allowed employees to visit with “virtual Ben,” a Chromebook running a perpetual Google+ Hangout in which the real Ben participated from afar.
Second, corporate Google+ users will gain the ability to restrict the sharing of posts. Users will be able to share with select individuals or groups. Sharing can be restricted to within an organization or can include team members outside an organization if specifically designated.
“We want to give users every … confidence that when they share, it’s with the people they intended,” said Bavor.
Third, Google Apps administrators, through the Google Apps control panel, will gain the ability to configure Google+ for employees.
Bavor observed that Google is offering Google+ “as part of Google Apps through 2013.” What happens after that? Will Google+ become a paid enterprise service? Bavor said only, “we’re keeping our options open.”
However, Matt Cain, a research VP at Gartner, believes there will be a Google+ enterprise edition.
“Google will add more enterprise features over the next year and it is likely to be an official product by the end of next year,”
he said in an email. “Google would not say if it was going to monetize [Google+], but our interpretation is that they will charge for it, once it is finished.”
Cain noted that the emerging enterprise features in Google+ are not covered under the Google Apps service level agreement and are not covered by standard Google Apps support. He also points out that Google+ still cannot be locked down so that only internal personnel can use it and that the service presently lacks data leak prevention and archiving capabilities.
Nonetheless, Cain considers it a good start, which also happens to be how Bavor put it.
At this year’s InformationWeek 500 Conference, C-level execs will gather to discuss how they’re rewriting the old IT rulebook and accelerating business execution. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, Calif., Sept. 9-11.
Souece: By Thomas Claburn InformationWeek August 29, 2012 09:06 AM