Could Google+ Be a Useful Worktool?

The online world is buzzing about Google+ (or Google Plus), which is purported to be Google’s answer to Facebook.  Since it’s not available to the public, I haven’t used it yet, but I have seen the news coverage and Google’s promo video.  I’m excited to check out Google+ because I think it could have some interesting applications for us professional folk.

Help Keeping Work and Personal Groups Separate

Google+ aims to differentiate itself from Facebook by creating separate spaces to interact with business and personal contacts. I’m momentarily intrigued by this prospect since I’m never quite sure what to do with my Facebook network.  I’d rather have separate pages to reflect my work and personal lives, but the concept of a “fan page” makes me a little uncomfortable.

Maybe Google+ is the answer. Google+’s Social Circles allow you to effectively and easily segment your colleagues, professional associates, partners, friends, and family members on the same network.

Instantaneous Collaboration

Although it doesn’t offer an extensive set of online data collaboration tools like QuickBase, Google+ can be viewed as a next generation wiki, which many work groups already use to keep everyone up to date. The Sparks feature encourages members of Social Circles to share and talk about relevant news and information, using a smartphone to quickly upload videos, photos, and documents.

The Hangouts feature could be handy because it alerts your circles when you’re online and ready for collaboration, and also provides the ability to automatically launch a video chat with multiple participants. This can be a terrific way to gather a bunch of colleagues in far-flung geographic together for a meeting, presentation, or last minute brainstorm.

Long & Short of It

Clearly Google+ isn’t trying to recreate the Facebook environment. Facebook indisputably has the feel of a community, and Google+ is really just offering new additions to Google’s growing suite of tools. They also didn’t design Google+ as web-based software for solving the collaboration needs of work groups. Only time will tell if it will actually catch on and make a more lasting impact in people’s personal and professional lives than previous attempts Google Wave and Google Buzz.

What do you think?  Is Google just in time or unfashionably late for the social networking dinner party?

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