Google+ may not be a major threat to Facebook at this stage in the social media game, but the search engine giant's social network is inching toward the enterprise prize. Indeed, one way Google hopes to gain more traction is by adding enterprise features to the mix.
Google has taken notice that entire companies are moving into the cloud and relying on Web-based applications employees use at home, like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Drive. Google calls this trend "going Google."
"As part of this trend, we're witnessing how Web-based collaboration and social tools have dramatically changed the way people connect," said Clay Bavor, product management director at Google Apps. "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, Google believes Google+ can help colleagues collaborate more easily, get things done -- and get to know each other along the way. With that goal in mind, Google is launching its first set of Google+ features designed specifically with businesses in mind.
Right now, the features are still in a preview period. During the preview period, organizations that have "gone Google," as Bavor likes to say, can use the business features of Google+ free through the end of 2013. In the meantime, Google will continue to add more features and administrative controls for the enterprise.
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said although there's competition, Google+ has plenty of upside in focusing on the enterprise.
"If it can gain traction in the enterprise that will also help it with consumer adoption and usage as well," he told us. "Although there's plenty of competition from Salesforce and Microsoft, among others, Google+ has considerable potential in the enterprise for both meetings and group collaboration."
Restricted Posts for Privacy
Some enterprises are already on board. Pilot customers like Kaplan and Banshee Wines have been using Google+ over the past few months to help employees engage and connect with each other. Bavor said Google incorporated early feedback from pilot customers into its plans.
One of the features is restricted posts. Restricted posts are private to your organization and can never be re-shared with anyone outside. At the same time, when you create a post, Bavor said, you have the flexibility to share it with specific partners or colleagues outside the organization as well.
Google Hangouts is nothing new, but now users can also add a hangout to a Calendar event. And administrators can set up companywide defaults for post restrictions. They can also enable restricted Hangouts to facilitate private meetings within the company.