I remember my very first encounter with Google. It was sometime in the very late 1990s when a coworker told me about this new search engine she had just started using. Like most everyone in those early days of the World Wide Web, I was a big Yahoo user and wasn't sure why the world needed another tool to find things on the Internet. After all, if it wasn't broke, why fix it? Well, I soon learned that this beta software with the quirky name (at least I knew what Yahoo meant) produced results that were more relevant to my needs, and within a few days, searching with Yahoo became a thing of the past.
Since then, Google has become a verb, and its reach into my life goes well beyond finding Thai restaurants and SIP documents. I maintain a blog built on Google software, ditched my yahoo.com email for Gmail, watch videos on YouTube, create meetings with Google Calendar, own an Android smart phone, and chat with friends using Hangouts. So, even though I have yet to vacate my Facebook account for Google+, or take a ride in a self-driving Google car, there isn't a day that goes by when my life isn't affected by this company that was birthed in a garage in Menlo Park, California.
Google didn't stop at creating products for consumers; since 2007, it has been offering Google Apps for Work as an alternative to the Microsoft dominance in the enterprise space. Combining the functionality of Outlook with the cloud aspects of Office 365, Google Apps for Work is being adopted by the likes of Netflix, Whirlpool, and FedEx. The latest figures I could find show a marketplace penetration of 50 million users in over five million businesses.
For $5 a month, Google Apps for Work provides:
For $10 a month, you get all of the above plus the following:
Of course, No Jitter readers are undoubtedly looking at Google Apps for Work with a unified communications slant and want to know how Google is cracking that nut. After all, if Google is going after the Microsoft Outlook user, the next logical challenge is Skype for Business.
The first shot across the Microsoft Skype for Business bow came in the form of Google Hangouts and Google Voice. This gave Google users video, chat, and PSTN dialing. However, the current feature set is very limited, and it's extremely unlikely that any business will seriously base their communications on a product that provides the functionality equivalent to a 20-year-old Key System.
Thankfully, an ecosystem of business partners has stepped in to help fill the gaps in the Google unified communications story. Whether it's click-to-call from an email or a tight integration with an Avaya or Cisco desk telephone, there are available partner integrations to turn the Google Key System into a fully functional enterprise communications platform.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware that Enterprise Connect 2016 is only a few short weeks away. In addition to great keynotes by the likes of Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, and yes, Google, EC16 brings a wealth of educational breakout sessions ranging from 45 minutes of deep-in-the-weeds technology to high-level business positioning. Readers of this article may be especially interested in one I am hosting, In Search for a Google Strategy for UC. Organized as a panel discussion, you will hear the thoughts, opinions, and predictions of not only me, but Switch Communications, BroadSoft, Avaya/Esna, Vonage, and RingCentral.
While it's impossible to know where the audience will take the discussion, we hope to address the following:
With a subject as big as Google, those questions only scratch the surface, but you have to start somewhere. The 500-pound gorilla in the room is what will be said during Google's Enterprise Connect keynote speech, so be prepared for some fast thinking as the panel and I digest what we heard and how it will play in the unified communications ecosphere.
If you are like me and rely on Google for both work and personal needs, I urge you to attend what I expect to be a lively and informative discussion. Google's place in the workspace is growing, and it's inevitable that the company will play a role in shaping the future of unified communications. This session can be your introduction to Google UC or a chance to ask questions of some of the most informed minds in the business today.
Learn more about UC&C at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. View the Unified Communications and Collaboration track sessions; register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.
Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.