Apps is a service from Google providing independently
customisable versions of several Google products under a custom
domain name. It features several Web applications with similar
functionality to traditional office suites, including Gmail, Google
Groups, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites.
Apps for business is promoted online as being available free for 30
days, $5 USD per user account thereafter or $50 per year. (As the personal version is now being abolished)
addition to shared applications (calendar, docs, etc.), there is
Google Apps Marketplace, which is an “App store" for Google
Apps users. It contains various applications, both free and for a
fee, which can be installed to customise the Google Apps experience
for the user.
are open about their overall strategy to capture and utilise a
profile of their users, to optimise their services and target
specific content to individuals. While commendable in their approach
of optimising services and content it also highlights one important
differentiator with their product set.
Google is clearly focused on
the needs of the individual and not on collaboration between people
as a part of Social Business foundation.
Docs provides an online office productivity tool that allows
users to create, share and collaborate with others in creating and
editing a document. It is only great to collaborate within a
document, just like IBM Docs. But it is NOT a collaboration tool:
do users find documents?
do they find expertise?
do collaborate around documents?
example, users cannot tag any documents in Google (or for
anything else in Google Services for that matter). They can
label/folder files, but there is no (public) tag cloud and any labels
are private. The whole idea of tagging is that people who you have
shared the document with, can see what it is about. Google adheres
the principle of search, so no tagging needed. But what if someone
upload an image?
non-text based files
upload files that are not text based, or text “intensive” such as
presentations, finding them is less than straight forward in Google. A
user may try to use the Collections capability (Folders) to
put files into context, but other users cannot see in what collection
a user has placed the file. Any contextual information is lost for
others to see.
raises another issue: How do I collaborate “around” a document.
Where do I leave my comments and ratings? I can star a document, but
that is just for me. No social sharing of appreciation for a
document. So let me try to add in the description field some
it blocks the existing text, so chances are that the original text
will be lost (or for that matter the tags you have put there). And
there is no way I can discuss with others about this document. And it
is not visible on what “version” the comments were made.
make matters more complicated: There is no way in seeing all
documents within your enterprise (corporate domain). So enterprise
wide document search is impossible, so is looking for an expert based
on the search by tag.
By way of a contrast, here in IBM Connections you see the rating and
discussion (collaboration around a file) is properly in place.
taking a closer look at the meta data of Google Docs I can see with
who I share this doc. But I cannot see who has downloaded it, what
version, if the document has been reshared (by whom with who) and in
what collections others have placed the file. This is in Connections
completely transparent (under the tabs).
I have said before Google is about individuals and so is the sharing
of documents in Google Docs: you can only share documents with
individuals or a group of individuals you have defined. There is no
integration with Google Circles and there is no corporate search over
everything. This will make it hard for users to find expertise and
knowledge within the enterprise.
what seems to make Google Docs so attractive?
within a document – co editing: a real cool feature to see people
collaborate in one browser screen. But that is no longer a
competitive advantage as IBM Docs deliver the same editing
capabilities. To take it one step further: in IBM Docs you can assign
sections to be written or reviewed. This allows IBM Docs users to
collaborate with a team on one document and the team members can see,
in an Activity, if a user is finished writing/reviewing their
In Google docs I see no controls, so while working on a doc
nobody knows who is writing what part and what the status is. So here
again the Google DNA of individual focus makes it impossible to
collaborate (synchronous or a-synchronous) on a document. The very
cool feature of Google Docs is the revision history, which shows on
the fly the delta between the edits. But again this does not tell
anything about the status of the document.
is not a social!
what about Google+? ” would be your first reaction. It is a social
software twitter/ message board functionality. But that is about it.
Here again the person focused DNA of Google does not foster community
collaboration. With Google plus it is possible to broadcast your
message to your Circles. And you are able to share a Circle with
others. This makes it looks like you have a community where you can
share information, but that assumption is wrong! A Circle is nothing
more then a personal distribution list.
Consider the following scenario where someone shared their 'circle' with me.
can view the Circle and that gives me the details of the people.
you can see I cannot use this Circle that has been created by someone else.
So I can add the content to one of my Circles or create a new Circle.
This means that there is no more link with the original Circle. I
can add / remove users and Frenk can add/ Remove users and there is
no link between the Circles. You cannot save the share message and
use it after a while, as the changes Frank makes to his Circle are
not updated into the shared Circle. This way every shared Circle is a
snapshot in time and is a fork of the original Circle. So in Google
there are no communities with members that people can join to
collaborate and can be used by a community manager. The only option
is to create you own distribution list and hoping that you keep your
own list of individuals up to date.
how about the share functionality within the Circles?
have share information to a Circle and then noticed Frenk was not in
the Circle. So I added Frank to the Circle, but the info I posted
earlier did not show up on his wall. So in contrary to a community,
you cannot access data that has been accumulated before you joined
the Circle. If data has been shared in a Circle or if your post has
been re-shared you cannot see with whom.
see it has been shared Public or in this case with Limited. So let me
see what the limited group consists of: I can see only 22 people and
41 others. I cannot tell who they are! “Where is my corporate data
going to?” as Circles can also contain external G+ users. Another
thing about the Circles is that is not integrated to Google Docs,
i.e. neither you can not see/search all corporate files, nor can you
find expertise based on tags/keyword search.
here again: secure collaboration with communities is not something
you can do with Google Services. Communities of Practice of
Communities of Interest are not a part of Circles. Circle information
is only possible to see from the moment you join the Circle, but you
can not see any history, which makes this not a tool capture
knowledge for (social) knowledge management.
what is good about Google Collaboration Services?
Mail: e-mail service that people might know from using privately. But
in my opinion the web user interface is not the most intuitive one.
Docs: Co-editing in documents in Google Docs, with an adequate change
tracking mechanism. Here again I miss the editing management
capabilities in an activity. And this feature is now also delivered
by IBM Docs
Good tool for message board. Like a Twitter+, with the easy of
targeting your tweets to your own Circles. But then again that is
about it. No files sharing, no concept of community, bookmarks
sharing, activities, activity streams with process information.
Why Do I Favour IBM?
delivers true collaboration. It is in the DNA of all their products.
Looking at the features Google delivers its focus is on communication
between individuals. IBM delivers true social collaboration
capabilities. Delivering a Social Middleware platform allowing to
integrate email (Exchange and Domino), Instant Messaging (Sametime
and Lync) into the social collaboration experience for the end-user.
Combined with social analytics, communities and getting other
integration (social everywhere) with activity streams, business
Looking at the Gartner report about the Fourth generation of
collaboration, Google only delivers the co-editing part, but is
missing the integration (with their own services and external