In the last eighteen months, Google have been making a determined push into the enterprise sphere from all fronts. We've seen renewed enthusiasm behind Google for Work and a reinvigorated cloud computing business model now going toe to toe with Amazon and Microsoft. However, Google is not inventing new wheels in support of these moves: instead the company is reinventing existing wheels and technologies. In the year to date we've seen a number of new technologies adapted for the enterprise market and this week, the company has announced Google Springboard for enterprise.
There's an easy way and a difficult way to describe Google Springboard. The difficult approach means explaining that Google Springboard utilizes machine learning technologies to provide a meaningful assistant providing useful, timely and actionable notifications, information and recommendations, depending on what he or she has been and is doing. The easy way to describe Springboard is that Google Springboard is to enterprise systems what Google Now is to consumers. The ease of this explanation depends on how well one already knows Google Now! The Springboard lets users search through all information their account has access to including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive, Contacts and more. The mobile application provides quick access to the user's agenda, not dissimilar from Calendar, and suggests relevant Google Docs: it produces a "Pick up where you left off" message for either frequently used documents, or those with new edits or comments from other users. Google's information shows that for many enterprise employees, they spend one day per week searching for relevant information.
In addition to Google Springboard, Google have also announced significant changes and improvements to Google Sites. Google Sites is a very popular product: back in October 2014, Sites had almost as many active users as Drives at 240 million. These changes bring the service into line with Google's other products, such as Spaces. They're designed to improve the layout and ease of use of Sites – for example, there's now a drag and drop interface together with speedier access to documents kept in Google Drive. The thinking behind the new version of Google Sites is based on the understanding that many Sites users wish to handle and distribute content without needing to understand the underlying code, which the old version of Sites encouraged. The new Sites allows similar collaboration work as we see with Google Drive and Google Keep. It automatically resizes images and cleverly blurs images under text so as to improve legibility.
A limited number of enterprise customers have been experimenting with the new Sites and with Springboard; Google is opening up the new services to all users via an early access program. The idea here is that Google has designed the service for a small group of big companies, which would represent the majority of users, but will customize and tweak it to suit other users as it needs to. Google Apps for Work admins can apply to become part of the new early access program from today.