On August 29, 2012, in a post titled “Bringing Google+ to work“, Clay Bavor announced that Google Apps customers would soon be able to use some business features of Google+.

New posts to Google+ always could be public or restricted. The new controls let administrators make “sharing with the organization” the default. More public – or more private – sharing of a post is possible, but must be actively selected by the user.

Hangouts also could be made public or restricted. Now, though, users can be required to specifically invite participants from outside the organization to join a Hangout. Where security concerns are paramount, Administrators can prevent the use of Hangouts on Air.

I think the integration of Google+ into Google Apps is just beginning. I’d like to see Google+ and Google Apps function as a seamless, unified collaboration platform.

Here are four features I think would make the Google+ and Google Apps integration even more powerful.

1. Organizationally managed Circles

Google+ Circles can be shared, but are not centrally managed. Any changes I make to a shared circle I’ve added are reflected only in my setup of Google+. For personal use, this works well. I can customize circles of users as I like.

For Google+ to be useful to organizations, centrally managed circles would be helpful. For example, a board of directors “circle” might change as members join or leave the board. When that change occurs, it would be helpful to be able to make the change once and have the change reflected in all organizational members’ circles. (Many of the management features already present in Google Groups for business might prove useful; if the entire “users, groups and circles” management system could be consistent, that would be helpful.)

2. Share documents with Circles

I’d like to be able to share a document or folder with a Google+ Circle. Access to the document or folder would change, as membership in the Circle changes.

3. Streamlined notifications

As Google Apps and Google+ continue to combine, I see a need for consolidated or streamlined notifications across the services. I would like to receive notification of new email messages, new Google+ comments, and notifications about document changes in one place. (The existing Android system of notifications might provide a useful model, although it would need to be modified to work in a browser.)

4. Improved search

As Google+ and Google Apps increase integration, powerful search becomes more important. When users initiate a search today, search controls and results stay “within a silo”: a search of Google Drive returns only Google Drive results. A search while in Google Mail returns only Google Mail results.

I can envision a time when a search returns results based the user’s personal Google+ (and Google Apps) profile. Search results could include publicly available information, as well as relevant private Google Drive documents, Google+ discussions, and Google Mail emails. Google will need to give us the tools to manage and filter these types of searches which encompass both public and restricted information.

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