Outside of its advertising business, I’m quite sure Google’s second major revenue stream is going to be its Google Apps business. Today, I was asked to participate in an online survey related to my experiences with Google Apps Premier Edition and it gave a fascinating insight into where Google is likely heading with this stuff.
Firstly, it’s quite obvious that Google has created a survey application (see screenshot below in thumbnail). Now obviously this is not a big deal, but it gives an indication as to just how extensive a Google suite can be. At the moment, we use Survey Monkey to do our customer and internal surveys, but we’d instantly start using Google Survey as a Premier Customer. BTW, the app ran at http://survey.google.com
However, the really interesting page came towards the back of the survey when it asked what applications were important to our company.
I believe this gives the best possible indication yet of the applications that Google is planning. Here are the apps, it talks about: Email, spreadsheets, word processing, presentation, calendars, online file sharing, web page creation, project management, online discussion groups, contact management
Of these email, spreadsheets, word processing, web site creation are already part of the Google Apps package. Online discussion groups is a product but not part of Apps, and would tie in very nicely. Online file sharing has been talked about for some time, under the platypus code name. It’s an obvious fit with this.
Project Management is an application I expect to see this year. As we all know, Google’s engineers tend to build-their-own-apps, and it’s almost guaranteed that someone, somewhere within Google has been working on a project management application. This will be a killer application to add to the suite, IMO, and will give it significant differentiation over what Microsoft offers. We currently use Ace Project for our project management needs, and again, we’d switch over an instant to something that integrated with the rest of the Google apps.
Contact management is another no-brainer for Google. Already, in Google Apps, you can enable contact sharing. Google just needs to give me the ability to add notes and give me a nice interface and with the integration with gmail this would be another brilliant addition. We have just started using 37Signals Highrise application and while there’s a bunch that’s great about it, there’s also a lot that is frustating me, trying to make it work within our organisation. To have that type of product integrated into Google Apps would be fabulous.
The other big question that Google asks is:
How important is offline capability for your organisation?
This is something I’ve blogged about many times, but Google is clearly thinking about online/offline capabilities.
What’s missing? There’s nothing about wikis. I wish Google would communicate with us, what it’s plans are for Jotspot. We were a Jotspot user, but we’ve passed over the platform at the moment, because I’ve received no correspondence from Google since it acquired the product as to what was going to happen with it. Clearly, that Wiki platform has the potential to tie together all of this stuff. Most of these applications were already a part of Jotspot when it got acquired.
And while I’m here, I just want to reiterate to Google that it needs to get that Start page in order, because it’s a blight on the entire suite. And Google Analytics absolutely has to be part of the suite.
Why is all this exciting. Because Google can integrate it and make it all seamless. I still can’t believe, for example, that 37signals didn’t integrate Highrise with Basecamp. And the lack of integration between Zoho’s products is the biggest drawback with their suite. The potential to have a contact manager, email, calendaring, project management that all works together would be the greatest thing to happen to the online application space ever. Our organisation currently has six separate contact databases, because none of our web apps talk to each other. The first company that truly integrates all these standard web apps, will own the market.