First Look Google+

Grouped081 I've been part of internal tool implementations for businesses — from start ups, to mid-sized companies, to the enterprise.

As I started playing around with Google+ in the last couple of days, one of my use cases was: How would this work inside an organization?

I'm thinking organizations are pretty good representations of accidental communities.

You're all there to work for the same business and help it grow. Yet, depending on how the information and people connect the dots (or not), each group is operating as a separate circle.

Circles are the basis of Google's approach in its new product.

Many businesses today use Google Apps, a package that includes Gmail, Google calendar, Google Docs, and a number of other services as an integrated suite. These are hosted on the company's domain, allowing granular account administration. It's basically a drop-in replacement for Exchange (with more Google services on top).

Google Apps does NOT yet support Google Profiles. That means no Google+ for those who only have Google accounts rooted in Google Apps. Google has promised Google Profiles for Apps users for months. Last March, it was "weeks' away. It's a gross and frustrating oversight for many users.

Since Google Apps accounts are all managed by the domain administrator (usually of the company), Google hasn't been sure how to handle Apps-based Google Profiles — they're pretty personal.

Will they be making Google Profiles portable?

Google+ demonstrates that the Web is being rebuilt around people — your personal identity is becoming the driving force of all that is happening online. As Stowe Boyd writes in his initial thoughts:

[…] At the heart of that core is the user’s profile, which acts as a key to open the Google door, on one hand, and on the other as a handle so that others can choose to interact with us. […]

He sees the transition toward connected apps, courtesy of the rise of genius mobile devices, and the decline of the browser. Individuals don't do things in isolation. Most of the time, we're social beings. Inside organizations, you have individual identities working in groups — divisions, teams, departments, whatever you call them, they are circles.

Which makes understanding the way people behave in networks key.

People have more than one circle

Even at work. There are those you get along with by affinity, those you share projects with, and those with whom you work more closely at certain times of the year. You get the point. Having the ability to filter your communications and interactions by group in one place, would make you very efficient.

These are networks, or circles. Some of the ties that form by grouping in relationship to a specific project or program become relevant at that point in time — and thus influence our thinking and actions. However, our strongest ties influence us the most.

The view of organizations as hierarchical charts is a remnant of 20th Century design. It's time for businesses to re-organize their thinking to catch up with the tools they have at their disposal.

Learning networks via portable identities is the human killer app of the 21st Century business. Strong, resilient, and connected.

Tools follow the people

By organizing the tools around how individuals work as social beings is the future of work. Google+ learned quite a few things from the company's two previous attempts at social, Buzz and Wave.

Among them, Gina Trapani lists: Using email notification, field-testing the hell out it before public release, with real users, building a product for users, not developers, and launching with a functional mobile app.

Although I have not had one yet, hangouts seem a natural for business teams as well. GigaOm reviews the technology behind them (think cross device), and Search Engine Land agrees, it's the breakout feature — it makes it feasible for people to watch video simultaneously at Netflix or Hulu or sports viewing in groups.


These are some of my initial thoughts. Google+ can make those accidental communities visible, and help build the connected company, on where the brandividual and the network overlap.

Are you testing Google+? What uses have you found or thought of so far?


[image by Paul Adams, Google]

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0 responses to “First Look Google+”

  1. I’m a google apps user and I really hate the idea that google has their best customers profit last from their new features. If I had known back then, I would have never signed up for it…

  2. Thanks for your observations and insights, Valeria.
    I would like to play around with Google+–but I can’t. You’re right: Google made a “gross and frustrating oversight” in forbidding Google app users access to Google+.
    They send an elitist message, making some users “haves” and others “have nots.”
    I hope they correct their error soon so we can all start experimenting with Google+. Excited by its possibilities…

  3. Looks like they took the best of Buzz, the best of Wave, and the fixes for the worst of Facebook, added serious video chat and created one platform out of it. Not a bad platform even in “Pre Beta” plus the Android app is very functional.

  4. Google Profiles is the stumbling block for Google Apps – could it be because the original target was corporate customers? Looking to explain why the oversight. Certainly it does not justify the delay in addressing the gap.

  5. wondering what the thinking was. Surely there is information available as to who subscribes — independents and corporate accounts — to make that determination… organizational silos at Google could also be a possibility

  6. Happy 4th of July! I finally managed to be able to log in and give Google+ a spin.
    While my initial reaction with most things Google is usually kid-in-a-candy-store in nature – wide-eyed, mouth agape with “Bliss” written large across my face – with Google+ I felt a little let down. Don’t get me wrong, the thinking behind “Circles” and categorizing contacts that way is just one more intuitive manner in which to organize our lives, just like handling email threads as conversations was in Gmail. However, between Google Buzz and now Google+, Google seemed to have stopped looking to the future, and resorted to competing one-on-one with Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
    I suppose I envision a one-stop-shop for all things Google, without having little bits of utilitarian software and/or online apps scattered all over the place. I may not have to log in more than once, but I do have to switch windows between/tabs between my email, what my friends are saying about stuff on Buzz, and what else they’re saying about stuff on Google+.
    Thank you for your insights into Google+ and for mentioning things that I hadn’t really considered myself. Among other things, I’m not a Google Apps user and so haven’t experienced the kinds of difficulties that you speak of. Looking forward to more of your pioneering ideas in the near future.

  7. Great post Valeria. I’ve been online and playing with Google+ for a few days now. I love the circle concept that you outline here and can see how it may change social forever by allowing you to segment your audience. This seems to be the one resounding positive I see from early adopters / testers of Google+ .
    Beyond that, I can see the promise of Google+. but am not (yet) convinced it can and will upset Facebook as a mass offering especially if we see Facebook move to something similar to Circles very quickly. If they do, this could be a very strong defense to Google+.
    What are your thoughts on Facebook’s ability and appetite to counter Circles?
    I’ll continue to dig through the offering, experiment, play and learn from others like yourself.
    Thanks for posting your thoughts.

  8. Hi Valeria, I speculated about this very point: why Apps Users are delayed from Google Plus. I think it is down to risk management from Google. And as much as I am personally frustrated I understand their caution.

  9. I’m also thinking there is a bit of caution over pulling other services in before they field tested G+ on some features. So far, it looks like they are being very responsive to feedback, which is a good starts.

  10. there is one fundamental difference with Facebook: and that is the trust factor. People have been thinking “in Google we trust” and there is responsibility that goes with that, to keep that trust. Facebook has done the exact opposite. It continues to demonstrate the many ways in which you cannot trust it…
    To me, that is the deal breaker. Ditto, I am iterating my thinking as I go.

  11. good point. Thank you for sharing the link to your thoughts. We’re off to a productive conversation with Google, I think. So far, they have been listening and participating, as opposed to what it felt like in other social networks early on.

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