Google+ for the Enterprise – the breakthrough for Google Apps
It is a question often asked, how will Google Apps become significant in the Enterprise. Though there is a lot of talk about the cloud the traction of Google Apps and its main competitor Microsoft’s Office 365 in the enterprise segment is low. The most successful company in the enterprise cloud and with a lot of future potential is SalesForce.com. Their vision for the social enterprise as well as the established account base in the enterprise segment puts them in the pole position.
But Google could change that game significantly, fight SalesForce.com and leave Microsoft behind. The key is the SalesForce.com vision about the social enterprise. In both parts, the internal collaboration as well as the listening and reacting to customers through social channels, Google has the components to be successful.
The world is changing. When I joined Microsoft in 2005 and they introduced me into IM I was completely surprised and discounted that as a tool for kids. I must admit I have been wrong and would not like to miss it at all nowadays. The means of collaboration do change. Mail will not go away so the mail component is still core to each enterprise collaboration offering. But there is more. Look at how social components take entry into enterprises. This is not only because the new means of “working together” are more efficient, it is also due to the simple fact that a generation of workforce is entering the companies that is simply used to these new ways. They would indeed claim that these ways are not new.
So how can Google attack this market? By enriching the Google Apps suite is my response. Imagine an encapsulated Google+ for the enterprise. Something that cannot be seen from the outside but applies the same benefits the public Google+ offering has. You can create circles, one for HR, one for colleagues you go to lunch with, one for company car users, job postings readers, etc whatever your role is. Based on this you can push information through Google+ for enterprise rather than stuffing their mailbox. Also the ability to choose different streams enables your employees to stay productive and manage their span of attention. Your employees could start hangouts and share information and all this in a highly integrated manner. The high level of integration in the cloud is what so far has been SalesForce.com’s advantage and is where Microsoft theoretically is great but fails as it is all components and not an integrated cloud offer. Mail will not go away but you would rather pick an email systems deeply embedded into your social enterprise infrastructure than a separate email system.
A cloud based social enterprise service will also help to establish global collaboration and communication infrastructures without a deployment of technology into subsidiaries across the globe. If you look at mobile applications for Google+ today you can see the potential to have these as a basic foundation for work of mobile workers. Integrate a Google Mail client into the same application and you have the employee one stop shop for collaboration.
Independent of your target customer size, from a single consumer to large enterprises, the interaction through the internet is changing the relationships. It is the way you sense and respond that changes the customer relationship.
With its reference cases and the vision of combining CRM and listening channels to social networks. Salesorce.com is in a great position. But Google has a head start themselves, other than SalesForce.com Google operates the most promising social networking platform of the past years – Google+. The amount of users picking up Google+ and the speed in which this happens is enormous. This puts Google in the position to create an interaction between Google+ and “Google+ for the Enterprise”. As both are built on the same idea and profit from developments on either side the high level of integration is obvious. But also the user benefit of working in both worlds without having to change the interface is great. Imagine that you internal collaboration environment could be extended by external circles. You could create the listening channels and ensure that your customer interaction is highly improved. Would it hurt Google if they focus this on Google+ only or do they need a Facebook interface as well? Personally I would say focus on what you can do best and this is your own product range but for B2C Facebook still has a stake in the ground. Therefore an interface to Facebook would be a good decision also to compete head to head with SalesForce.com.
Google currently is working on the enterprise identities on Google+. So far there is no secret as you can see through the pilot pages, e.g. Ford Motor Company. But what really will be a game change would be the Google+ for the Enterprise. I would love to see that. Actually I believe so much in that idea that I would love to join Google to drive and push that business to enterprises across the world.