Google recently added a sharing feature to Google Groups with the search giant’s productivity suite, Google Apps to make the two products work more efficiently together. Tonight, Google is going full monty with Groups and launching an enterprise-friendly version of Groups that will integrated with Premier and Education Editions of Google Apps.
Google says that Groups is one of its most widely used applications. Groups is a collaborative application that essentially lets anyone create discussion forums, mailing lists, pages, and more for small and large scale groups. With the Apps version of Groups, employees can create groups for their departments, their teams or their projects. Employees can also use groups as mailing lists to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, calendars, videos and sites with entire groups. Users can receive communications directly to their email inbox, in a digest format, or in the Groups forum view, and can access all the information in the groups archive, without the intervention of an IT administrator.
On the administrator side, Groups gives users more flexibility to set up groups without relying on admins for support. Admins can also set group policies and manage other group settings. This is key because previously Groups was only able to be controlled by IT admins, whereas now admins can let users create “user-managed” groups which are operable by any employees of an organization using Apps. Additional features include the ability to search group archives, and reply on behalf of a group.
As with most of the features in Google Apps, the collaborative component of Groups is the cornerstone to the announcement. As Rajen Sheth, Senior Product Manager for Google Apps, told me, “Collaboration is key to Google Apps,” and each product within the suite reflects this. Apps has been steadily growing in users, and counts more than 2 million businesses with 20 million users. While it still hasn’t caught up to Microsoft yet it’s certainly in the rear-view mirror.