Grainger is founder and CEO of Mavenlink,
a comprehensive web-based project management platform that manages the
entire scope of business for consultants,
freelancers, and other independent service professionals from a single
application. Ray was a Global Managing Partner at Accenture for nearly two
decades, and earlier in his career he served on two expeditions to Antarctica
and was awarded a congressional medal.
Since 1998, Google has been busy creating an entire universe of web tools. There’s email and calendars, Google Docs, advertising, payment processing, site analytics, and mobile. Then there’s also the Google Apps Marketplace and Google Chrome Store offering third party apps for everything in between from accounting to project management applications, CRM and full-blown ERP applications.
The missing element in this Google Universe has been social. Until now. Google+ has the capacity to bring all these tools and apps together; with Google+, people are at the center of a new social hub.
Google+: The Social Glue for Google’s Business Apps
Since the unveiling of Google+, there have been heated discussions about the new social network vs. Facebook. When it comes to business, Facebook gives brands exposure to a 750M+ community; that’s a powerful value proposition for marketers. But, Google+ provides the social glue for all of Google’s business apps.
The Google+ feed is an expansive and easy-to-manage way to unite all business communications whether with colleagues, contractors, or clients. Think of the Google+ feed as a conversation manager for any and all of the Google apps responsible for managing activity in a business.
The Google Universe: A Complete Hub for the Small Business
Google offers a single source for all business interactions. But does it offer best-of-breed functionality for each application? Not necessarily. However, the benefit of having a series of top-notch feature sets and best-of-breed tools typically won’t make up for the added complexity and fragmented experience caused by dealing with multiple point solutions.
When companies invest in individual best-of-breed tools, purchasing managers, IT, and end users are left juggling a patchwork of vendors and individual tools that don’t always play well together. Microsoft for IT, Oracle for the backend infrastructure, PayPal for payments, etc….integrations across all these tools can be complex and expensive.
Fortunately, Google offers a complete hub that extends far beyond Google Docs and document sharing. Google offers a viable web-based alternative for all that’s needed to keep the wheels turning day in and day out. In short, it’s becoming possible to run an entire business based on the Google ecosystem alone.
The Move Toward an Integrated Cloud
It’s no secret that small businesses have already been looking to replace desktop software and move toward a web-only environment. Online tools offer an ease of use, accessibility, and low cost that typical enterprise software just can’t match.
But even web-based apps can be cumbersome if users are required to jump back and forth between apps and vendors to access point solutions for each bit of functionality. And that’s where Google and its unified platform of tools come in.
When we look back over the history of computing, we see a recurring trend where users migrate from individual tools to a unified platform. Whenever a new computing platform emerges, a large number of software vendors flood the market and are purchased by business departments or individuals at a high unit cost. Then over time, a unified application emerges on the scene, setting off a wave of conversions away from point pieces to the single solution. It’s a similar pattern with every computing platform since the mainframe.
Small businesses are migrating, over 3 million so far away from expensive on-premise software solutions to Google Apps for their IT infrastructure in the cloud. This presents Google+ with a unique advantage to penetrate the small business market.
For the small business, we know that simplicity is best. With Google, capital spending goes way down as users can access these tools on the web, and largely for free. Even more importantly, life is much easier for the small business as the full suite of tools is in one place, and integrated right out of the box.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ is less about a place to hang out and connect with friends. Rather, it’s a way to unite all the pieces of the Google Universe together and offer a single toolbar and conversation feed for the full suite of Google tools. And as we’ve seen from history, the benefit of an integrated system will draw small businesses away from individual best-of-breed solutions.