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Four ways Google+ will end up in your workplace

Ignore the wider implications of Google+ at your professional peril. The future of Google+ is unclear, but there are pieces and planned features that could disrupt the way you communicate and work with others.

It's easy to overlook the business impact of Google's new social network, Google+, at least for the moment. Google+, launched June 28, is still somewhat invite-only, and despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews, even the earliest adopters are still figuring out how it fits into their online and social lives.

Image courtesy of CNET

But ignore the wider implications of Google+ at your professional peril. The future of Google+ as a whole is unclear, but there are pieces and planned features that could definitely disrupt the way you communicate and work with others. Here are four key points to ponder:

Looking for a few tips on getting started with Google+? Check out CNET's 7 Google Essentials.

Google+ Hangouts are group video chat done right

If you want to impress someone who thinks big about the social web, you'd tell them about the unique privacy and posting features in Google+, or perhaps the intuitive "Circles" interface for separating, say, your bosses and college friends. But if you want to really impress just about anyone, show them Hangouts.

Hangouts are group video chats that don't require anyone to check their Skype settings. You choose a Circle of contacts (or create one), then enter the room when you want to be available for video or text chatting. Whenever someone is speaking, the screen shows their video feed, and then switches to whoever inevitably cuts them off. It's done in a browser, it doesn't require Flash, and it is, as Om Malik put it, something Skype will grow to hate, especially as businesses paying money for such services get interested.

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Google+ upgrades other Google Apps you're already using

Picasa Web Albums was, until last week, a competent photo-storage and sharing service that didn't have the reach, popularity, or style of Flickr and other photo networks, let alone the up-and-coming mobile photo services. But to those using Google+, Picasa is now the backend of a seamless image flow. Take a photo on your Android device, and Google+ (with your permission) automatically uploads the photo in the background to a private Picasa album. When you're looking for something to share, you simply pluck a photo from that bucket of recent snaps, and everything else can be easily organized into albums with easy sharing tools.

It's no far reach to say Google+ will likely tie itself into Gmail, Calendar, and other Google Apps services that businesses use. Whether Google "hammers" it in or simply makes the integration too good to pass up, it's likely their social service will actually become a value-added "plus" to Google services, not just an additional noisemaker.

Businesses will have "Pages" much faster than with Facebook

As Facebook came to prominence, businesses and brands were ushered through a twisty road with few signs or markers. First they were just like regular people, and could only have a few thousand "Friends." They could create "apps" instead, but the platform viability was uncertain. Finally, they were offered "Pages," with just a few restrictions, but the transitions weren't always smooth.

If Google wants to present Google+ as a social experience that has learned from its progenitors, business profiles is a rich, undiscovered area. Google is already working on "pages", and if the actual-person experience is anything to go by, there's a good chance businesses won't be allowed to be their own worst enemies and intrude too far into users' experiences, while still keeping a presence.

Much, much better contact management

The lazy way to describe the Circles in Google+ is as the equivalent of Facebook's lists. That's misleading, though, because Facebook's lists are remarkably painful to use, and the company might not even believe in them.

Image courtesy of CNET

Circles is a drag-and-drop way to classify your contacts without becoming a pro-am librarian. If Jerry is both your former sales representative and someone you see socially around your city, you drag him into the "Widget Co." and "Wichita" Circles, but keep your human resources rep only in "Widget Co." That way, the things you see in your social stream make sense in context, and the stuff you share only reaches the right eyes. You can follow anyone, but whether they follow you back is up to them. It's a good harmony between Twitter's asynchronous and public relationships, and Facebook's dorm-like sharing networks.

From a social and sharing standpoint, Circles seems to work for Google's early adopter crowd. But it's not hard to see how LinkedIn might be threatened by such an easy network management tool, and how tools like the video chat Hangouts, the group messaging Huddles, and business-friendly pages could create some smart synergy for those with many networks to manage. And, heck, anything that makes managing your Google Contacts more intuitive should get some kind of warm welcome.

About

Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.

37 comments
Pegamoid
Pegamoid

We believe Google+ and Google Sites are perfect for project management as the provide encapsulated data and membershipl. We have a task list/gantt chart product that provides a bit more structure than normal spreadsheets. It's pure HTML5+Javascript so it runs everywhere, even on mobile, with no compromises. You can check it out at http://www.teamdirection.com/igwebpart/google_index.html

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

The government agency I work for touts its Facebook presence in all corporate emails to us but then blocks access to it on all corporate computers! Google +? Don't think so!

danielsweb
danielsweb

Google is currently in my workplace in every aspect. No matter what we want, or need we search for it in Google. Our entire business model and income also comes from Google SEO and Google adwords. Without Google we simply wouldn't be in business.

Amigut
Amigut

While the marketing literature as Google's application (Google +) without a doubt -"user", it is clear that most commentators expect the next step to commercial network.

mattar63
mattar63

"Hangouts are group video chats that don???t require anyone to check their Skype settings......." This sounds MeBeam'ish???

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

Google is going to deliver another solution with out finishing their work the same as thier predissesor. This tacticul manuever has intreged the wall street finacial system many times before. Why would a tech company buy or design different application design to advance our tech community when there is no financial advantage. The truth is there is some valuable perspective to this financial concept being g+ is design for the different businesses around the world. Ironically here lies the conflicting anchor to there sucsess. First Google needs a dividen pay out to apeese the wall street minded businesses. This would. Incorporate hacker, open source and local intranet app writers to jock for HTML protocols when a commercial serveris paying to run there business flualessly. A business spend to much money on private in house it department, were Google can find this new source of income to finally closed the deal on security issues. The bottom is by de investing the money currently spent to manage technology the right way, there will be a void left to resolve. Google's horrible decision to invest in their concept of YouTube is being tested again. Did any one really believe other people would do all the work in writing editing and creating videos for a company to only manage an track information for user search video entertainment? Well Google is doing it again. They provide a full arrsanal of programs fearing thy would be determine to be a monopoly of the it industry. Funny how an 18 teen year old can put all these application to work and a business can't even track there customer phone calls, hense hiring a securtary. Well being this said Google's down fall will be marketing their products. Ironically the company of advertising will have troblem marketing g to business. The void will be customization to the professional community. Understand businesses cator to a specific consumer, Google caters to gielse 925. The diverse system will be manage individually to each bussines. It is basically the same as progressive, and legos, there will be many different pieces to choose from and all u would have to do is ask Google what is they provide for the right business solution at a ffortable monthly diveden price? Ps your it department needs to understand the changing IT market, we are upon the next .com error when the democrats took over, verse this error the democrats will be jocking to stay on the political baseball field.

wanedan
wanedan

let me try using google+, so i can give my opinion about this.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

They announced a Skype-based video chat feature yesterday. That weakens one of Kevin's points.

Vitality01
Vitality01

Over the years Social Network programs have evolved like night clubs down the main streets of your local city. I expect Techrepublic could post enough variations to fill this page. Like it or not, this trend is not about to change. Given this evolution it???s no surprise that Google+ can get most things right first up, but comparing it to other social networks maybe premature. Yes, similarities are important, but jump behind the wheel of 3 different motor vehicles and you will always find those familiar points. However, I expect it is the point of difference that is striking Techrepublic's chord, and maybe like them, I look optimistically for ???What's in it for our business?". For us, I believe Social Network Application are not all anti-productive. If they were, emails would of died long ago. On the contrary, Social Networking tools are on the grow. What we need to do as consumers is to encourage developers through these avenues to build us tools that enables our workforce to spend more time on their core business.

downtoearthman
downtoearthman

Is Tech Republic the main vendor for Google's Social Media? With all the stuff I see coming from Tech Republic in favor of Google, it leads me to believe so. I'm seriously thinking about ending my subscription to Tech Rep's mailing list. If this email doesn't make it to the list, then I'll know that there are others.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I have always bought my own hardware, software and made the agreement with my employer that what is mine is mine and yours is yours including an intellectual property agreement. So, whatever is on my laptop and phone is mine. Hint, highly encrypt it and the buggers can't steal it. There are a list of things I get in writing.

doug
doug

Google+ does not seem to work for me. I get the following error message: "Oops... you need a Google profile to use this feature. Google Profiles is not available for your organization." I am interested in test driving Google+. We use Google Apps (Free) and been enjoying it for over a year now. (I separated from my ISP after customer disservice and price hikes, and bought my own domain name for personal use.) Unfortunately, we are unable to create Google profiles. I believe this was something that Google has been working on for quite some time; and many are still waiting to see. Is Google neglecting their most loyal users (Google App)?

FuzzyIce
FuzzyIce

T.R. had been publishing stuff about anybody that matters in the IT, so do you also think Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Apple... to mention a few, is paying T.R. too? What about the open source coverage? Are all those Linux distribution paying them as well? Generally speaking, people should have enough critical sense to read things and make their own minds and publishers don't need to judge... Let that to us, readers and supporters, those that will ultimately use or not whatever is being described. Have a good day...

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Is it just me or TechRepublic was paid by Google? All I see is nothing about praises for Google Plus. Yuch.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

This is a perfect solution. Hangouts is very similar to something I have been in the process of developing for our internal use.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Kevin is looking ahead for potential enterprise uses for Google +. What potential do you see? Is Google + going to be a service you'll have to support someday?

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

Why would you even respond to this blog without first researching the subject and then forming an opinion based on personal observation and fact? That's like reading an article on a subject and then seeing 50 responses that say,"I agree." What's the point? Are we to stay tuned anxiously awaiting your final say?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Google + is a big story so lots of coverage and we started a new blog - lots of coverage there too. You might want to take note that you are posting in the Google in the Enterprise Blog. If Google is not your thing, we have blogs on Windows, Apple, Linux, smartphones, and geeks.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

You will likely have to use a personal Gmail account to access Google +. The Google Profiles feature is not available for enterprise and business apps customers - at least as far as I know. I had to use a personal account as my CBS Interactive account will not work.

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

Any time any organization publishes volumes of "information" that reflects only the positive side of its subject with no serious regard for its pitfalls or shortcomings, should raise a red flag in any critically thinking mind.

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

I get the same suspicious feeling as you do. Google+? Google Apps? Windows 8? The writers of these articles referring to them never seem to come up with any cons...only "What are you waiting for? Why don't you fall down and worship Google (or Microsoft) right now?"

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Can you give us 4 reasons why Google + will not be in the workplace? What exactly is wrong with Google +? Have you used it? I haven't myself - still waiting for an invite. Kevin has - perhaps he has insights you don't?

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

If Google Plus proves itself to be worthy of praises, then shouldn't someone writing (honestly) about it praise it? Why should we only think that an article is objective if it's complaining and/or slanted against something? I'm now curious to look at Google+ myself -- and I'll form my own opinion about it, too, once I do. But if it's something that's well done, I certainly expect Tech Republic (and others) to be honest about that and tell me that it's a good product... Perhaps that's the case -- and given T.R.'s & Google's good track records in the IT world, it probably is.

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

Interesting point! Many of us have email newsletter subscriptions to Tech Republic as IT personnel, not Google, Windows or Linux fanboys. Does being referred to this blog by reason of article title mean only cheerleaders are welcome? Does it mean only cheerleader articles are posted?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If your workplace account wouldn't work, how will 'Google+ end up in your workplace'?

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

The government agency I work for touts its Facebook presence in all corporate emails to us but then blocks access to it on all corporate computers! Google +? Don't think so!

dwar10
dwar10

why it will have issues in the workplace. "Social Network". Sorry, but I see little redeeming value to any social networking application in the workplace. One of the biggest complaints I get from owners and managers is that workers waste too much time on non work related issues due to Social Networking... They are blocked in most of my accounts. Market penetration in the corporate environment will be an uphill struggle as I doubt many of them will allow a social networking app. So let's look at 4 reasons then... The things that would make it an excellent social site also make it dangerous to businesses. 1. Productivity issues. For reasons mentioned above... The group hangouts for Video Chatting could be useful in a business environment, but only if management can control the groups and forbid chats to outside individuals. 2. Security issues... It makes it too easy for users to "share" (unwittingly or not) confidential information with potentially hundreds or even thousands of users outside the company. Now I know there are other ways this can happen, but I see no value add in making it easier for them to do from their business computers. 3. Malware and virus problems. The links that users provide to see the "cute kitten" or whatever, can be an invitation for the bad guys to come on in, skip the antivirus software and then invite all of their evil friends in with them... 4. I could go on, but the only way I could see this being a productive tool in the workplace, is if you can pull the "Social" part out of it. It, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, et al will be blocked on any business network I have any control over... I'm not knocking the author, nor the product.. It appears to have some great features, just IMO, not in the workplace...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Disclaimer: I don't think TR is receiving monetary compensation from Google or anyone else besides its displayed advertisers. With that out of the way, ... I don't think Google would have invited anyone they thought would cast the product in a negative light. It's impossible to guarantee 100% approval, but they can target the beta testers for best anticipated responses; they've certainly got the data to mine. Google may be conducting beta testing, but it's clearly also running a campaign of marketing by word of mouth. 'We've seen the Emperor's new clothes and we're telling you they're magnificent! Just you wait; in the meantime we'll hype them some more!' Lack of an invite makes it impossible to effectively evaluate the product or respond to the chosen; all the average schmoe can do is take the word of the hand-picked. Despite that handicap, I'll tackle Kevin's points. I don't know the adoption rate or market penetration of Google Apps, but I'll bet few on the Fortune 500 are using them as their exclusive business apps suite. Leveraging Plus's interaction with Google Apps won't matter to them. In particular, I'll bet Google's e-mail system isn't their primary e-mail system. That means they'll continue to rely on the contacts management in their selected e-mail system. As to businesses building 'Pages', those may not come at the expense of Facebook. Businesses will target their social interaction to the biggest crowds, and it's too early to lump Facebook in with MySpace. Consumers have a lot of time invested in their Facebook presence, and apparently the majority of them are unconcerned with FB's security issues. Speaking of beta testers, Google is notorious for leaving new apps in beta for extended periods. I don't see any business adopting a tool to the point of reliance while the vendor can claim it's still not ready. Finally, exactly how is the name of this service supposed to be written / typed? Is it 'Google+', 'Google +', or 'Google Plus'? I've seen all three used in article here on TR. If the first, it's going to be very easy to overlook the '+' in casual reading.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Read the Google in the Enterprise Blog and you'll see.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

It is currently turned off - but can be turned on at anytime. Kevin is making the assumption that the feature will be active soon.

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

Gates has spent a professional lifetime denying stupid statements often attributed to him. This is only one of the many.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Someday I'll apply for a government grant to study the overall accuracy of Gartner's predictions. What little I can find on Cerner and Jive is mostly press announcements, and short on technical and implementation details Salesforce falls in to the category of marketing and customer relations, an area dwar10 already agreed can use social networking effectively. I'll bite; what's a 'circle stream'? Necessary info can be made readily accessible via a good document or content management system. Who says a business has to use an external social networking app (we were talking about one provided by Google, remember?) Knowledge transfer is important, but what are the benefits of the 'social' aspects? How do you keep those from becoming time sinks? Mostly, how do you get people to participate? There are more content consumers than producers.

dwar10
dwar10

and to be compared with Bill Gates, all in the same day! I'm flattered, even if the quote might require me to eat a little crow... It certainly wouldn't be the first time. :) I stand by it however, as long as it is taken in the spirit and context that I intended. I believe that in the body of my post, you should see that intent. It really boils down to how a manager, owner, corporation defines a "social network". If I say social network to my customers they immediately think of Facebook or MySpace... Not a good thing for a business to put on the desktop of all the users... If you have a "social network" that is targeted to specific business needs and can be controlled as such, then it is productive.... Otherwise, not so much... I'm not so sure that Goggle + is not trying to be all things to all people (business and consumer) on the same platform.... And that could be a mistake in the enterprise.... Time will tell....

sandypants
sandypants

in the work place." nice quote and destined to go down in history along with "I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years. " - Bill Gates. Tell it to Gartner.. http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1293114 (and Jive, and Salesforce chatter,etc) Read up on Cerner's implementation of Jive. Think of the countless hours spent chasing a piece of necessary information around in an organization. Think of the value of getting that quickly. Think of the value of a "circle stream" in a project vs an endless stream of update emails. If Google+ can be built into google apps as an internal social media platform, with a set of security controls which address business concerns, then I think it is possible to make some folks like Jive (and 37 signals? replacement for campfire,) etc very afraid. I can see add on apps to make this very competitive for project work and geographically dispersed teams, to name a few areas where these solutions are already in place.

dwar10
dwar10

"I can see value in social media for marketing, investor and customer relations, and recruiting functions. If those aren't areas a company specializes in, access to social media should remain limited to those who work in those departments. " I could have been clearer on that point... I was speaking strictly to applications on the desktop of the average workers.... In those other departments there is a clear value... In fact, I would believe that it provides one of the best values in marketing today....

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Sorry, but I see little redeeming value to any social networking application in the workplace." I can see value in social media for marketing, investor and customer relations, and recruiting functions. If those aren't areas a company specializes in, access to social media should remain limited to those who work in those departments.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

CBS Interactive and TechRepublic use Gmail exclusively now - and as an aside, I don't like it at all. I hate Web mail - I use Outlook as my client and try to avoid looking at the Gmail backend as much as possible.