My first thoughts on Google+

So I go where many of the leading technorati (an example list) have already gone…  played about Google +, drawn their conclusions & evaluations, then posted and shared their thoughts with many peers and watchers (at least the vocal ones).

So I won’t past comment on Google +’s evolutionary history or how it compares against the usual suspects.  If you need that information please visit your preferred search engine.

What excites and interests me about Google +   is the slickness of integration with basic and existing services that Google has delivered with this primary iteration of the service through general UI revisionGmail, Google Chat, Photos etc. are all plumbed in well (perhaps not exactly as people wish, but that’s why the feedback button is there).

They’ve combined these key services and nicely presented them in the revised Google UI – which provides sensible toolbar menu and workspace with simple clean lines and uncluttered space in the browser.  The top right-hand side being particularly useful with the constant presence of the notifications and share menu, along with the context|service sensitive help and setting options.  All this I’ve easily get used and start taking for granted immediately.

So I’ve realised that Google + is almost the sort of connected set of services and social connections where I could use and work everyday.   Until now, I’ve not had a visualisation of a connected web worker interface and services that flow and connect together so well as Google +.  Perhaps that means I’ve missed something somewhere, or only had fleeting interactions with such a platform available elsewhere?

So why do I think it’s particularly suited for supporting the workplace?

These are my call-out features that make it a potentially great Enterprise collaboration platform:-

  • Google chat conversations that remain active and sync’d no matter which Google service tab you have have active, keeping continuity of contact and context.
  • Google +’s Hangouts (video conferencing) present a step change for multi participant video chat services, with intuitive launch and privacy controls.  This will be an excellent service for remote teams.
  • Google +’s profiles are well done, with key controls and updates, to help viewers choose how they wish to interact with that person.  It’s certainly made me think Google account profiles, are an important digital business card as well as sign post to the rest of your digital identity.
  • Google +’s sharing and circles, are there to help drive adhoc collaboration and project activities forward. Helping people target conversations and activities to relevant individuals and groups. Combined with the notification & filter features, your attention handling overhead is reduced. So you can focus on updates when they come in, but otherwise dedicate your focus elsewhere and let things move on in the background.
  • Google has done a good job of the activity stream implementation so far, delivering different filters/views on your stream via the circles categorisation.  Activity streams are more effective than an email inbox in helping an individual track a large flow of data in a loosely coupled manner, as well providing a more flexible engagement and participation model.
  • Gmail and Mobile integration (Huddles – group texts) (primarily Android currently), are already well done and obviously be subject to further improvements in future iterations. It’s also all browser based so the form factor, OS or the resources of the end-point device are not so much a limitation of the service but help to extend it’s reach and serve mobile users better.

It’s not complete by any means so there’s a couple of key things to come that Enterprise will be interested in:-

  • Google Apps, the current Google Enterprise services, look a great prospect for integration with Google +.  It will interesting to watch how that implementation takes shape, and the security and identity features they put into manage privacy, identity and content publication needs.  They’re already done some implementation of dual accounts in the Google+ toolbar, and you can switch IDs see here: account switching
  • Google +  API, another great prospect to integrate both consumer services and enterprise grade application services.

So I’m going to be interested to see how Google + evolves, there’s certainly being no lack of expertise and feedback for Google to exploit to help it change Google +  in the right manner.  It’s certainly good to have a strong disruptive influence in the social networking market place.

For reference this GigaOM post is also a great summary of the potential of Google + as enterprise workplace.

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