Google’s SaaS-based business collaboration offering, Google Apps for Work, has been well-recognised in enterprise software circles for several years, spearheaded by its email component, Gmail. However, despite its modern, cloud-based approach, and its early embracing of real-time collaboration, Google was surprisingly late to market with a social collaboration offering.
Google’s social collaboration offering
With the introduction of Google+ to the Google Apps for Work (formerly called Google Apps for Business) suite of applications in August 2012, Google finally acknowledged the role of social technologies in business collaboration (though it was not fully available to all customers until July 2014). However, rather than follow the same path that many other vendors were taking by creating a private social network inside an organisation, Google came at it from the other side, extending its consumer social networking platform into the private arena.
For context, Google Apps for Work is a broad collaboration software suite which includes email (Gmail), calendaring (Google Calendar), file sync and share (Google Drive for Work), collaborative content authoring (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Forms and Google Slides), web page creation (Google Sites), group audio/video chat (Google Hangouts) and social collaboration (Google+). Delivered as a SaaS-based service, pricing for the suite starts at £3.30 per user per month, rising to £6.60 per user per month for unlimited storage, advanced administration controls for Google Drive, and archiving/e-discovery through Google Vault.
Google+ for Work
Providing the same fundamental capabilities as its alter-ego in the consumer space, Google+ for Work comprises several key features:
- Profiles for each user.
- Circles, which allow users to group their contacts in order to control who they share posts with, as well as to help manage their activity streams. Circles are personal to each individual, but they can also be shared with others; this shares a copy of the list of contacts for others to use or build upon.
- Streams, which leverage the circles concept to enable individuals to filter and manage their activity feeds.
- Communities for group discussions and collaboration; these can be open, managed or ‘restricted’ access. Restricted communities are particular to Google for Work, and are limited only to people within the organisation’s domain.