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
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.
Are you testing Google+? What uses have you found or thought of so far?
[image by Paul Adams, Google]