If you are on Google +, you couldn’t have missed the announcement two weeks ago of the new feature, the communities on Google+. Obviously I receive a lot of invitations to join these communities. Why not, except that they duplicate those already opened by the same people on Linkedin or Facebook (or other members of the group who should be aggrieved not to be the owner). In brief, to much doubloon here. So will Google + eventually take the lead and other social networks will face the same fate as MySpace, futur tells. In any case Linkedin would do well to look in the rearview mirror.
Anyway, back to the heart of the post, the competition announced between Google + and social networks enterprise editors (it was already my analisys for the launch of Google + last year).
Since this summer, the « shift » to the corporate market accelerates (which does not prevent Google as usual to address Mr and Mrs Smith and it is even one of these strengths relative to competitors, allow the access of the extended enterprise to external stakeholders).
Just a reminder, if an enterprise social network (ESN) is a good choice, a digital workplace should be a better one. In the same ecosysteme, a file sharing (Drive) easy to use, mail and calendar (I assure you there is far from the no mail inside corporates), office (google documents) unified communication including chat and videoconference (gtalk and hangout). So Google had serious arguments to undermine the small world of enterprise software editors. But since this summer Google + as an enterprise social network enhances its social features when he announced that circles could be reserved for members of a company only, using the domain name (the pro version should allow a finer management rights):
- rich profile,
- activity stream,
- document sharing,
- content rating,
- circles for conversation
- mobile application
and now communities.
The community, symbol of the enterprise social network (Google allow to create communities : private, public, and even more or less secret if you do not show it in the search results). Small hitch moreover, unlike enterprise social network you can not change afterwards the status of your community. If it is public, it can’t become private (I guess it should evolve rapidly, at least for the pro version).
So with this last feature, even if it must be refined, the emergence of communities is a real plus to integrate the business world. Besides, I already have clients who ask themselves the question to switch, even if they have a quality enterprise social network internally. But they have already switched to Google apps part.
In addition, Google + has a little pedagogical side for employees of the company. Often the tag system is a bit complicated to understand for the users, who are accustomed to a « windows way » of classification based on folders. So, on Google + it is possible to « classify » content in customizable folders. A gadget for those who have the habit of ESN and use the search engine, a real convenience for those who are less mature. Moreover ergonomics is a real challenge for technology projects in companies. A lot of people (425 million accounts in January 2012) have already a gmail account, and are familiar with this type of interface, a real asset for Google
It has been quite a while since I think one of the strengths that can make ESN the ultimate weapon in the management of information and datas, it’s the search engine. The fundamental idea, I should be able to find everything from the search engine, even with a sum of important data, with few keywords (especially in full text search). Let’s be honest, I do not know a customer who did not cursed the quality of its search engine solution (there seems to be progress on that side). And when we talk about search engine, hard not to think Google. And there is a real plus, especially when I am looking for something and the app will fetch through all of my digital workplace, including email.
Google has yet to demonstrate its ability to work with major corporates (sales, at least in Europe, can not be limited to an online form, not to mention customer service) and be able to provide clear answers on the legal issues around SaaS, as Microsoft is able to make it to reassure businesses wary of SaaS solutions, especially about the geographical location of data farm.
It is more towards ESN that we must watch than Facebook for Google+, although a hybrid of the both, it is also what is emerging as a more complete answer.