4 Reasons Why Every IT Ops Professional Needs to Use Google+
You must have heard by now about the new social networking kid on the block, Google+, right?
So what is all the excitement? After all hasn’t The Social Network space already been conquered by Facebook? No. Google+ has a lot in common with Facebook and Twitter, but also has the potential to be incredibly useful as a business and teamwork tool for IT Ops.
How does Google+ approach the social network differently from Facebook and Twitter?
Google+ is focused around their own concept known as Circles. You build a social network on Google+ like you connect to people in the ‘real world. It is a more deliberate act because you can't add people to the social network without placing them into at least one Circle. It's not a replacement for your internal, proprietary communications (which most companies don't want to expose to the public) but is great for learning and sharing your non-proprietary information.
Here we outline four reasons that we think will make Google+ into a great productivity tool for you and your team.
Reason #1 Team Communications Just Got Easier
Google+’s Circles governs Google+’s operations, making the nature of relationships the core of the interactive experience. Circles (a main differentiator from Facebook) more accurately reflect how we see the world—a place filled with different categories of people that vary in how we relate to them.
Google+ Circles is a great feature that you can use to share information, updates and build a team spirit. The Google + “Circles” feature allows you to share information EXCLUSIVELY with other Google + users in your various social groups. To build your team spirit using G+ simply create a new circle, add your team members into your circle by drag and dropping their profiles and share your information, inspiration and motivation exclusively with them.
With Google+ Circles, you can throw together a communications platform for teams quickly. Setup each member of your IT Operations team on Google+. Have everybody create a circle that you are all assigned to that represents your IT organization. Any items commented shared or passed in this circle stay within the company. This information is stored and compiled. Go one step further and build team circles so that specific IT groups, like allowing IT incident management teams to discuss incidents issues only. You could even look to create circles for projects, like for specific releases, so information tied to those projects is easily organized.
Furthermore with the ‘+1’ button (ability to bookmark/post interesting pages) now a ubiquitous part of the ‘net, you can easily share web documents and information making the page into a public/private bookmark. Google’s +1’s can behave like Facebook Like’s or allow you to share an endorsed article from one channel into another, the way that tweets appear in a news feed. You can save important articles. This new feature allows your team to store “+1’s” locally or share them with the ‘Circle’. With all these capabilities in one manageable platform, you can leverage the Google+ social network for greater productivity and better teamwork.
Reason #2 Control Your Communications
Privacy is a key differentiator for Google+. In the Facebook world, your relationships are based on the foundation of ‘one to many’. You have many ‘friends’ that you must sift through a constant stream of updates from. Any interaction with any ‘friend’ is exposed to the rest of your network. One of the main reasons that makes the Google+ service more attractive over Facebook is Google+'s emphasis on privacy and conversation management. Google+ allows you support a conversation stream, but keep the conversation focused to the group members that are relevant to your work. By filtering your stream of information into specialized groups (Circles), you gain both in productivity and access to critical information. Although anyone can follow you or add you to their Circles, the important aspect of Google+ is that the privacy of your posts is always set by you. This means you can feel comfortable to interact with other team members and discuss information related to a performance slowdown, and not worry that your friends or family are in on the conversation. Google+ offers many controls for determining who can see your profile information and each individual post, with administration tools:
- Disable all commenting. So for team communications, you can arrange to just send notifications to your team.
- Disable resharing. This way your Circle connections can interact, but you will know that what is shared in the Circle, stays in the Circle.
Reason #3 Follow IT Experts that MatterThe one-way nature of relationships on Google+–one’s ability to “follow” or “Circle” others without reciprocation–is a more powerful and flexible approach to establishing a set of relationships. You can “follow” IT experts and get their updates, insights and important information without having to be their ‘friend’, or going into another social network, like Twitter. For instance, you can add someone like Robert England, The IT Skeptic, to an IT experts Circle. Or you can create an IT Analyst Circle, and ‘follow’ the latest research from the experts at organizations like Gartner or Forrester.
Reason #4 Integrated Productivity Tools for Team Collaboration
Perhaps Google+'s greatest strength is that it's part of the ever-growing Google ecosystem. Google+ is now easily accessible from popular Google tools like Gmail and Calendar, and as it continues to be developed will likely be integrated with business-oriented tools like Google Docs. Sharing links within Google Reader with your IT Ops group could be a huge productivity and information sharing boost.
- Hangouts: Google+'s video chatting application, Hangouts, can be an excellent video conferencing tool for team communications. Being able to see your meeting participants or distributed team members helps increase the sense of collaboration.
- Huddle: Another feature of Google+ is also team-centric: Huddle is a group texting service that allows you to text many people at once from your mobile device.
- Sparks: Sparks is a list of your interests that you can share with your Circles. Sparks throws interesting content at you depending on what you’ve told it you’re interested in. For instance, you can set up to be informed of the latest configuration management tools. Once you chose your interests, you will be able to see a link to each of them under your profile picture. Any time you want to see what is going on related to your interest, click on it and you will get a page filled with news, posts, and information.