Would you move from Yammer and Skype to Google+?
Get ready to “friend” your boss because social networks are bound for business. Google’s announcement this week that it had added new business tools for its social networking platform Google+, came just two months after Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer, an instant-messaging application for businesses.
Google added admin controls which made it easier for businesses using Google Apps for Business to restrict posts on Google+ to their own employees. Google+’s video-conferencing application Google Hangouts, which was recently integrated with the rest of the Google Apps suite including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar, also received admin controls so it could be used for internal meetings.
Microsoft has been using its huge cash reserves to buy up market leaders in the same areas. Apart from the US$1.2 billion it spent on Yammer which had 200,000 business customers, Microsoft snapped up Skype for US$8.9 billion in May last year (Skype claims a whopping 663 million users and is hugely popular as a small business tool).
Microsoft has already started integrating Skype into its cloud productivity suite, Office 365. Office 365 already boasts a very powerful communications tool called Lync Online, based on the company’s enterprise software, which handles instant chat, phone and video conferencing, and desktop, document and application sharing.
(Aside: Google’s most recent post indicated that Google+ features would be charged for separately to the Google Apps licence from 2014 onwards. Given that social networking is destined to become a part of how we use business technology it’s hard to see how Google could sell Google Apps without Google+. If Google sells both services bundled together it could be argued that it’s the first price rise for Google Apps.)
It will be interesting to see whether Google’s homegrown and tightly integrated efforts will sway users away from the massively popular programs Microsoft has paid for.
Several Australasian accounting firms and software companies have picked up Yammer to use alongside Google Apps. If you’re a Yammer user – would you ditch it for Google+?