Like many others, I've had my head stuck in Google Plus the last few days, courtesy of an invitation via Salesforce.com's Steve Gillmor. (Thanks Steve.) It's more than a little interesting.
What immediately strikes me is that I am prepared to give Google Plus time to work for me where as I wasn't prepared to do the same for Office 365. Others are also prepared to give this time. Euan Semple for instance is in there finding new things and surfacing hints and tips. Susan Scrupski goes so far as to say:
okay, I'll say it. Facebook seems boring now compared to this.
Sig Rinde is sold:
Me likes this a lot! Promptly instructed programmer to include direct Gmail authorization log on on our side (at same time preparing for other interaction of course) - and - blatantly - stole their colour scheme :)
Do you notice that all those I mention are enterprisey types? On the other hand I see people like Brian Glick saying things like:
Is it wrong of me to say that I'm not remotely bothered that I don't have a Google+ invite?
Some betray a narrow view around important aspects of social graphs. Adrian Bridgwater for example says:
@bryanglick you're not missing much, it's just a load of tech journalists connecting with each other
That's not true in my world but can understand how that would be true for others. But I think it is Robert Scoble who comes closer to most in seeing what Google Plus means today:
Your mom won’t use Google+.
How can I state that so clearly? Easy. Most “average users” are locked into Facebook and aren’t willing to consider a new social tool until they hear about it from their friends. Since most of the people who are on Google+ so far are geeks, insiders, social media stars, journalists, and other people (Google admitted tonight they are only accepting people who have strong social graphs so that they can both make sure everyone has a good first experience as well as test out some of the technology before opening it up to a wider audience) the chances normal people (metaphorically speaking, your mom) won’t hear about Google+ from normal users for quite a while.
By then I’m sure Facebook will react (ie, copy) Google+’s best features
Again a narrow view but one that can be expanded. Scoble then goes on to say that Google Plus is a place for geeks and that's just fine. I disagree - partly. Facebook can try all it likes but it won't come close to having a solution that to me is so obviously right for enterprise. Facebook doesn't have that same enterprise kudos except as a marketing/advertising vehicle.
As others have noted, Google Plus has some excellent features with much potential. Hangout is a Skype killer. It could also kill WebEx and with a bit of extra tweaking I can see it knocking over Adobe Connect. Those are enterprisey tools that Google has effectively rolled up.
The ability to create MY circles for the people I want to categorize in different ways makes so much sense. It overcomes the problem of having IT decide who I can interact with while leaving me free to include business partners outside the enterprise walls. That will work well in small organizations once Google Plus opens up to the GAPE user profiles.
There's plenty that's rough around the edges and to be frank, receiving random notifications from people I don't know is a pain. Those irritations aside, I'm happy to give Plus a shot where I wasn't with Buzz.
But - Google must not succumb to the temptation of thinking this will get all its GMail users excited. Scoble is probably right in referencing Facebook the way he does but that does not look like Google's demographic. In one sense you can almost say it reflects John Furrier's view that Google is about machines and not humans. Guess what? So is much of enterprise so the gap may not be as big as some might think.
The crunch will come if/when Google decides to charge for Plus as it should while addressing its enterprise privacy hangover. There is a ready market of GAPE customers out there who I'm sure will be fascinated with what Plus has to offer and be prepared to pay.
There will be the inevitable comparisons with Yammer, Chatter, tibbr, Streamwork and many others who think (wrongly) that this is just about social networks. In my world this is about getting things done and on the basis of what I see today, Google is on the right road to creative destruction.
But over and above these observations I sense a genuine opportunity for the geeks as Scoble describes them to meet with the suits and help Google truly understand the potential of what they have in their hands. Who's up for that?