Two colleagues who work for IBM have expressed experience based opinion on Google Plus. They represent views that are at different ends of the spectrum. One has fallen instantly in love with Google Plus, the other is circumspect. One is deeply engaged with the socialised world, the other is deep into transactional systems. Both are super smart. What's going on?
Luis Suarez says:
Starting another week @ work with perhaps one of the boldest moves I can remember in the last four years, perhaps next to #lawwe: moving my Twitter streams to G+' // Just unfollowed 150 folks this morning & moved them to Circles over here; waiting for the other 300 to join and then my conversation days on Twitter are over. Only looking for density of information at this point. Let's see whether I'd regret such move or not. Catching up with the streams now...
If you are on Google Plus and have Luis in one of your circles you can see the stream of conversation that ensues. He is interested in the engagement noting at one point:
...if things continue to grow, like they are, and if G+ doesn't mess things up, it's been a long [time] since I have seen this level of interaction, engagement and participation, as well as growth in numbers than in any other social network. And that coming from the folks who surely understand a thing or two about scalability
Vijay Vijayasankar on the other hand is much more concerned about technical matters. He lists things that strike Vijay as issues including the lack of third party apps, forcing people onto Picassa, search issues and the like, concluding that:
What is the point of a pre-beta when you can guess 9 out of 10 people will provide the feedback that all these things are expected as a minimum?
On the topic of whether it is fit for enterprise, Vijay says:
I saw some well respected analyst friends of mine terming Google plus as “disruptive” and “enterprise class”. Most of the reasoning seem to be along the lines of how pundits told us how Wave will change how business processes work in future . After all I have described above, I find it hard to agree . Well, if they mean it as a future dream – sure, that is possible. At the moment, it is not enterprise worthy in my opinion. Forget “facebook for enterprise” for now – it needs to mature a lot more. And for long term viability in enterprise – facebook equivalency is just tablestakes. If facebook for enterprise is the vision – i would give facebook the most chance of making it, and not google plus. Duh !
One of those analysts would be me. I see things very differently.
More to the point, do you see the fundamental difference in belief systems at work here? Luis has issues - as we all do - with what Google is attempting. Regardless, he is getting on with it to see where it goes. I'm very much in that camp. Nothing that went before has intrigued me so much and sparked (sic) so many thoughts about how Google Plus might be used in an enterprise context. None of what I might wish may come to pass but it is making me think. And like many others, I value the quality of interaction.
Vijay on the other hand seems to be taking a much more mechanistic view. That's not a negative statement but simply how I parse his comments. But it is Vijay's last point that is of greatest interest.
Last thought – just like “old generation” enterprisey companies find it hard to understand the business model of “new generation” consumery companies , I think the new guys have the same problem in reverse too.
At the risk of being accused of mind reading, this is what I believe is at the heart of Vijay's concern and which represents the enterprise battlefield of the future. For Vijay, Google just doesn't 'get' enterprise, something with which I would have agreed, prior to seeing Google Plus. Even now I consider myself out on a limb in hoping that the enterprise penny has dropped for Google. For me there is something else going on here that right now I only see in outline.
I don't care whether Google Plus beats out Facebook, draws attention away from Twitter or any other social network because I will move to where the action is taking me. I care about the quality of information I can get from trusted sources I know today and may come to know in the future. I care about having choices in the way I interact that reflects the variety of media at our disposal but I don't want to be running around among applications. I care about being able to restrict conversations to people for whom it is important yet still want to broadcast from time to time. I want to bring people in and out of conversations as the occasion demands.
Like JP Ranagswami, I want to effortlessly filter in the same manner I do in the real world and not worry about what I might miss going on in the firehose while at the same time handling the in-moment requirements I have today. And I want it all archivable and searchable so that I can go back and reference what went before because history matters and memories are short.
In other words, I want Google Plus to be a digital reflection of my world as I experience it and wish to express it but not in the transactional sense that Vijay is alluding to. If it can. That, I sense, is where the enterprise needs to recognise the reality of what's going on and where the biggest challenges lay.