Google+ will gain enterprise social collaboration features

Google is already using internally a version of Google+ with workplace-specific capabilities

Google plans to release to customers in the future a version of Google+, already in use internally at the company, that has features designed specifically for workplace collaboration.

So said Google+ official Bradley Horowitz on Monday at the company's Atmosphere event, where Google is hosting 350 CIOs from around the world to discuss the role of cloud computing in the enterprise. The event ends on Tuesday.

"We know from our own experience this will transform businesses worldwide," said Horowitz, Google+ vice president of product.

For example, the Google+ Circles functionality, which lets users segment their "friends" list into different groups, will allow for "intra-enterprise sharing" through Circles for the IT department, the marketing department and the like, that are public within an organization but not necessarily to people outside, he said.

The use of this workplace version of Google+ has "transformed" communications within Google, becoming the preferred tool for many interactions that previously happened via email, wikis or other "sharing mechanisms," Horowitz said.

"We recognize the demand for this use case. We see it and use it every day: we're working on that," he said.

These features, which would probably also include the ability to share files from the Docs hosted productivity applications using Circles, would be of particular interest to Google Apps customers, who just last week got access to Google+ via their accounts.

It's not clear whether the Google+ workplace features would be available only to Google Apps customers or instead to all Google+ users.

Although Google+ at this point doesn't have specific features for enterprise social collaboration, Horowitz said that it can be used in the workplace, giving as an example its Hangouts feature for multi-person video chat.

Google Apps includes Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Sites, Video and other applications, but it doesn't have an enterprise social collaboration component, along the lines of what vendors like Jive Software, Socialtext and NewsGator offer.

Although cloud-hosted enterprise social collaboration software has become increasingly popular in recent years, Google has held off on adding such a component to Apps -- although it sounds like that may change with the new version of Google+.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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