Recently Google released a set of Google+ features that encourage collaboration within an enterprise. These new features will be available to the company's current Google Apps for Business customers on a trail basis at least through the end of 2013.
The Google Apps for Business suite is a cloud-based collection of productivity, collaboration, and communication software solutions. Many of Google Apps for Business' various components are familiar, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and now Google+. To these, Google Apps for Business adds the sort of administrative support one would expect from a similar enterprise suite.
Apps for Business will run on any system with a browser and Internet access, so that businesses can run Ubuntu, Apple OS X, Windows, or any combination thereof without missing a beat, so to speak, in terms of features or collaboration.
Google+ Hangouts for Video Conferencing
Perhaps the most impressive feature that Google+ is adding to Apps for Business is Hangouts video conferencing.
In the Apps for Business context, a user may set up a meeting from Gmail or Google Calendar, easily sending invitations to up to ten attendees inside or outside of the company. Meeting attendees may join from any web-enabled, camera-equipped computer or mobile device and will be placed in Hangout video conference. To join, attendees simply click a link from the meeting notice or from an email.
This Hangout feature allows for presentations or collaboration via Google Docs, so, as an example, a Google spreadsheet can be shared, allowing everyone in the meeting to make comments and update data simultaneously.
To illustrate, imagine a mid-sized retailer with a warehouse in Washington state, a marketing manager working form home in Minneapolis, and the company's founder traveling to a trade show in Las Vegas. With the Hangouts feature in Apps for Business, all three could work together on a new free shipping campaign, sharing graphics and mockups, and seeing each other, all in the context of the private video meeting that is completely integrated with their email, instant messaging, and calendar solutions.
Private Company Sharing
The Google+ and Apps for Business integration also allows companies to restrict Google+ posts to specific groups including one's own company or business unit.
These private posts can never be accidentally shared outside of the organization.
There are numerous possible use cases. An ecommerce marketing manager could post links to Practical Ecommerce articles with notes about implementing something mentioned therein. Co-workers could see the post, follow the links, and schedule a Hangout to discuss the topic further without any fear of accidentally sharing the post publicly.
More to Come
“These latest business features for Google+ ... are just a start.,” wrote Google Apps Product Management Director, Clay Bavor on the Google Enterprise Blog. “We have a lot more planned for the coming months, including a mobile version of Google+ for enterprise users and more administrative controls.
“We’re witnessing how web-based collaboration and social tools have dramatically changed the way people connect,” Bavor wrote. “Whether you’re across the street or across the world, you can hold face-to-face meetings, share updates with colleagues and friends and work on a presentation together in real time. Like Google Apps, we think Google+ can help colleagues collaborate more easily and get things done — and get to know each other along the way.”