As a Google Apps user myself, I'm always wondering - "What the heck is going to happen next quarter?"
The way that I stay on top of things is by subscribing to the Google Apps blog, and by bugging a lot of people at Google. Since I'm not a Google Apps reseller, I'm not really privy to any "insiders" briefings, but I do spend a bit of time in the customer forums, which is where you generally figure out Google's product timelines, if you're willing to read between the lines a little bit.
Based on a bit of detective work, here is what I think is happening in Q2 of 2012.
1. Decent support for Google Plus, total confusion for IT admins
It's going to be a real challenge in 2012 for any enterprise IT (or marketing team) to not talk to their users about Google Plus. Google announced the total integration last October, and explained how to roll it out for your organization pretty clearly. They even wrote email templates so you can tell your end users about it. But here's the rub: they did absolutely nothing in terms of change management. They did not even give out sample social media policies.
For a company as large as Google, and considering that there are probably dozens of millions Google Apps users who have never used Google Plus, this move was myopic at best, and completely arrogant, at worst. However, the Google Plus support documentation is now pretty good.
2. Way better support for Android tablets, with one hot exception
Now that android tablets have dipped below the hundred-dollar mark (yes, you read that right), it's actually possible to run Google Apps on something that costs less than a fancy dinner. One note - don't expect to run it on your Kindle Fire.
3. Google actually wants to talk to small companies
For companies with under 50 employees: Did you realize that Google actually wants to talk to you now? Generally speaking, it's because they want your AdWords business, but hey, a phone number that works is something that small businesses didn't usually get from Google in the past. Reach out to your Google Business Solutions rep if you want to chat - you'd be surprised that it's actually not tough, for smaller firms, to reach someone.
4. Better YouTube integration on the Google Apps platform
In the last year, there has been an amazing proliferation of companies that do business selling to other businesses using YouTube. Additionally, now that the YouTube Partner Grant program has been proven successful we should expect further programs like this to launch. This only cements the relationship between YouTube, and the small businesses that use Google Apps. Get the skinny on linking your company's Google Apps and YouTube Account, and if you want your geeks to get better at developing content for your company's YouTube assets, send them to the YouTube developer page.
5. Chromebooks for everyone
They're fast, they're cheap, and they usually only do what IT admins want them to do. And they're saving companies about $1300 per year, per unit. Don't be surprised if your Google Apps vendor starts telling you that you're wasting a few hundred grand by not using them. And the vendor might even be right.
Adam Metz is the VP of Business Development at Metz Consulting the social concept, a social customer management-consulting firm, based in Oakland, California. Metz has consulted with companies since 2006 on how to acquire, manage, monetize and retain customers from the social web. Metz's customer community, at http://metz.customerhub.net has nearly 500 members, and offers a no-cost 9-hour training course on social customer relationship management.Metz's second book, The Social Customer, was released on 9/16/11 and has hit #1 on the Amazon marketing charts. Adam's first book, There Is No Secret Sauce, has sold or downloaded over 3000 copies, and is currently in its third printing. He has additionally published an eBook, The Metz Way.Metz specializes in social media marketing and social customer relationship management (social CRM) for awesome consumer brands and loves lifestyle, travel, apparel and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies.Metz has consulted with nearly 100 consumer and B2B companies, including Hershey's Chocolate, Waggin' Train Pet Food, Wente Vineyards (top 30 winery) Pirate's Booty, MBT Shoes, Maestroconference, Obama Girl (Barely Political), Lynda.com, Passport Resorts, Hollywood Park Racetrack, The San Francisco Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Mighty Leaf Tea, Timbuk2 bags, and dozens of others. Adam Metz also worked on the first social media program for Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Friedman.Metz has lectured at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Washington, and University of California, Santa Cruz and has given keynote talks at numerous conferences and associations including the California and Minnesota Chapters of the American Marketing Association, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau Technology Conference, and the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association.Metz lives in Oakland, California with his fiancee Susan.