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Google tools fail to motivate enterprise collaboration

Despite Google's best efforts, TechRepublic members are not yet enamored with the Google Apps collaboration tools.

On July 22, 2011, I polled readers of the TechRepublic Google in the Enterprise Blog with this question:

How often do you take advantage of collaboration tools in Google Apps?

The results of the poll make it pretty clear that the collaboration tools included in the Google Apps suite are not being used to their fullest potential. The poll results tend to support what I have been thinking - collaboration via cloud services makes for good marketing copy, but users have not yet embraced these tools as part of their regular work routines.

The concept of using collaborative documents is still a bit experimental from most users' point of view. I think users are going to need some time to figure out exactly when, where, and how they will incorporate and integrate collaboration tools into their normal work routines. Some will adopt and adapt more quickly and other users will probably never fully adapt. Some users, taken to the extreme, may never need to adopt collaboration tools because such tools may not be helpful in their department or organization.

How quickly will you take to enterprise and team collaboration tools? We are using Google Apps collaboration tools to a small extent here at TechRepublic, but it is not the first tool that pops to mind when a problem presents itself - at least not yet. We have to remind ourselves that the tools are there and that they can meet a particular need better than an exchange of emails or other less-collaborative solution.

What has been your experience in your organization? Are your users mostly ignoring such tools or are they clamoring for more and better collaborative tools?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

6 comments
pdegroot
pdegroot

It's hard to make a judgement from this poll, unless you have something to compare it with. For example, if you asked people in corporations that have SharePoint whether they ever used the collaboration tools, what would the answer be? My guess is that it would be lower than this, not because SharePoint is bad, but because it is not as easy to initiate collaboration (especially with extenal users) and many people's job roles simply don't require collaboration.

bullbash
bullbash

Wikipedia on Google Tools: "...Analyst firm The Real Story Group cited several weaknesses in Google Apps in a comparative review which referenced a lack of administrative, customization, and lifecycle services..." I'm no Google and have no intention to be :-) - just a developer for 30 years now - but here is the result of the long term R&D efforts: Imagine a server (a little one) which runs on the top of any SQL DB - in a cloud or LAN or locally. Communications with clients are firewall friendly but encoded. The server Admin creates unlimited apps with unlimited user groups with unlimited users. Users with developers rights building CRUD applications in point-and-click fashion - kids' and Business Analysts' favorite way. An app consists on unlimited number of related SQL tables, menus, texts, htmls, images and Java programmable "empty" objects. There are click-and-point report builder and query constructor (no SQL on the client side! - it dynamically generated by server). An app looks and feels like a local one - Java front-end. Development Tool is built into default client and allows agile customizations and (re)development of live application. The app is ACID as long as underlying DB is ACID. All clients receive server notifications on content/design changes and reload relevant changes instantly. Full Java API is available to customize app's logic beyond CRUD. All that means the stuff like CRMs, some bookkeeping, some documents depository apps - well, whatever could be expressed in terms of synchronized data, generally done in a matter of minutes or hours. The biggest challenge I've ever done - is a Transport Dispatch App, with SimCity-like interface(OK, Civ1 - 2D), where trucks are drawn, pallets are dragged into them, they are color coded and all that alive(3000 lines of code) - I'm watching it as I'm writing - my map updates itself in a matter of millisecs and the server runs on a cheapest cloud server possible - unmetered bandwidth, Atom (512Mbs) CentOs - $20/month. Five people working simultaneously with no problems - although I do not know how well it might scale yet. The app is in production for 2 years now - the core was ready - it took me a while to make the Development Tool friendly enough for a kid or a Business Analyst to put it on the net at www.fancydata.com (the site is amateurish yet, but the code is not). All the apps you could imagine are at your fingertips - if you're able to use a spreadsheet you can create custom apps for collaboration the same way. I had never tried to discuss the thing(a tool, a host, a framework ?! - what is it?) till it was not ready - starving for opinions - give me some beating or tell me it is good :-).

tbmay
tbmay

If I have to get a sales pitch to hear about their security audit, and they won't even publicly say who performed it, I can't help but see a red flag. Lotta people are jumping in with both feet, and it's for darn sure understandable. But betting the farm...your private and sensitive data...on clusters of servers "somewhere" just crosses a lot of comfort zones. How about stop calling people who ask about the security and privacy policies paranoid and tell the public how you've handled it. If you've seriously committed to it....you're not stealing their data and you are taking serious measures...I'll be you'll sell a lot more. My 2 cents.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

whether they're hosted in house via SharePoint or if they're cloud-based. Our most used digital collaboration tools are still e-mail and shared network file folders. On the other hand, we're a manufacturing plant with few design or development projects; SAP is our life blood. Even in the IT department, we tend to forget collaboration tools. We're in the middle of a consolidating the Active Directory domain for the US into the rest of our company's international domain. We have a half-dozen people working on this in three locations, but we ignore SharePoint in favor of e-mail and a weekly meeting.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What has been your experience in your organization? Are your users mostly ignoring such tools or are they clamoring for more and better collaborative tools?

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I took advantage of our move last year to do some consolidation but am by no means finished.

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