Google sees Gmail as key to its collaboration plans

ai says Google’s Jacob Bank, director of product management at G Suite

As the call for group messaging apps continues to blossom, it can seem like electronic mail’s days as the primary commercial enterprise messaging device are numbered. Google, however, sees the future of its group messaging device, Hangouts Chat, as carefully entwined with email.

 Google sees Gmail as key to its collaboration plans

The enterprise laid outs it’s wondering at last month’s Google Cloud Next with a focal point on the integration of Hangouts Chat into Gmail, which allows customers to leap into Chat without switching apps.

The concept is that, like several software tools, real-time crew chat has limitations as well as benefits.

Ease of conversation can cause facts overload, and short-fire conversations can grow to be distractions – the equal problems still related to electronic mail, problems group chat changed into intended to restore.

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Combining the two – chat and email – lets in conversations to be driven to the most fitting channel, said Google’s Jacob Bank, director of product control at G Suite.  While crew chat is super for ad-hoc discussions with colleagues, as an instance, electronic mail is better suitable to greater formal interactions.

“The premise of our communications strategy is that we are not going to live in an international in which absolutely everyone abandons electronic mail and movements all of their communication to talk,” he stated.

“Our primary approach is that chat is wonderful for some use cases,” Bank stated. “It’s speedy, it’s informal, it’s low-tension, you may make decisions fast – and it encourages transparency. It’s the virtual water cooler in which human beings sense greater relaxed expressing themselves. But it is able to be interruptive, it is able to be distracting and it is able to be hard to extract the signal from noise.

“Email, however, has a group of conventional strengths that in many ways are complementary to chat.”

Google first previewed Hangouts Chat in 2017, along with its video conferencing tool Hangouts Meet. (They were placed as a substitute for the Hangouts tool within the organization’s G Suite product portfolio.) Chat formally rolled out closing yr.

Launched amid a clamor for alternatives to the wildly famous Slack, there are a number of similarities among Google’s apps and its upstart rival. Hangouts Chat allows threaded message conversations in its group and direct messages, AI bots and quite a number third-birthday party integrations. Key electricity: its integration with different G Suite apps along with Drive and Docs – and the employer has introduced AI functions together with Smart Reply over the last year.

While Bank stated Google is making “massive funding” in its crew chat abilities, Gmail will keep as the valuable verbal exchange “hub” for G Suite users. The Gmail integration reinforces that point, he stated. It method customers may be capable to drag up a complete-screen version chat tool directly from the left-hand column of the email patron, without switching to the Hangouts Chat app. Previously, it becomes handiest viable to chat the usage of a small direct-message pop-up inside Gmail.

That allows users to speedy move from personal emails to group chat in a less disruptive manner. Hangouts Chat will nonetheless be to be had as a standalone app.

Tim Banting, a fundamental analyst at Ovum, described the mixing as a “top breakthrough” from a consumer angle.

“We often pay attention how commercial enterprise messaging is changing inner email; it makes feel to have it integrated inside Gmail,” Banting said. “Having an unmarried consumer for collaboration and communications suggests that Google is clearly considering ease of use. It’s now not clean to layout user interfaces which are clear-cut and exceptionally useful.”

Email…, not lifeless yet?

The integration highlights the company’s broader vision for employee verbal exchange and collaboration, said Bank. “The Hangouts Chat integration into Gmail indicators a long-term ambition to combo the nice of each world of traditional electronic mail inbox-based totally verbal exchange and team messaging,” he stated.


“Gmail is the hub for our present customers today and we want to complement that with an increasing number of actual-time capability and greater first- and third-birthday party integrations. If there may be a class of customers that need to be chat number one, we are able to totally support that want as nicely.”

Google isn’t always by myself in recognizing the ongoing significance of e-mail. 

Microsoft Teams, as an example, is incorporated with the developer’s Outlook electronic mail client, alongside Office365. Slack, which expects channel-based communications to finally emerge as the dominant shape of business verbal exchange, although partnered with both Google and Microsoft to bridge the distance with their e-mail clients. And it plans to permit users to ship messages from email directly into Slack channels and vice versa. For its component, Facebook ultimate year acquired RedKix to help join its Workplace social community with main email gear.

“Our lengthy-term imaginative and prescient is a completely deeply interconnected, intertwined experience that receives the most out of both channels,” Bank stated. “We do not see it as a light-weight integration where you pass an email verbal exchange into a team chat or submit the results of a crew chat over electronic mail. But inside a given a group, you might be the usage of email for its asynchronous and formal semantics and chat for its synchronous casual semantics, each simultaneously as central components of your workflow in the equal experience.

“Everyone is understanding that email is not useless,” he said. “But I assume we are embracing the advantages of email and the advantages of Gmail a whole lot more than each person I even have visible within the market.”

Cracking the group collaboration marketplace 

Google faces robust competition as a call for team collaboration tools continues to bounce; its rivals have already attracted large numbers of users. Slack has 10 million day by day lively users, inclusive of eighty-five,000 paid commercial enterprise clients, at the same time as Microsoft Teams, which like Hangouts Chat is available as a part of set subscriptions, is utilized in 500,000 organizations. Facebook’s Workplace has more than 30,000 paid companies and approximately 2 million users overall.

It’s no longer clear how extensively Hangouts Chat is definitely used. The app is to be had as a part of G Suite subscriptions, of which there are five million clients, however, Google doesn’t get away stats for the messaging platform.

Google’s offering appears to lag behind others inside the marketplace. “Based on our quantity of conversations with customers, there isn’t a lot customer momentum with Hangouts Chat,” stated Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner.

By integrating Hangouts Chat with Gmail, Google may want to spur greater adoption, said Angela Ashenden, a primary analyst at CCS Insight, imparting a gap for the adoption of the chat device.

Chat and Gmail Google

Hangouts Chat in Gmail.

“Bringing Hangouts Chat into the Gmail user enjoy is a superb manner for Google to drive greater adoption of Hangouts Chat. Blurring the traces between the two programs and lowering the context-switching needed as part of conversation workflows,” she said.

“Right now, Gmail is the principal center of gravity for the G Suite portfolio for maximum users. And so this is a low-friction way to introduce them to the capabilities of Hangouts Chat without leaving the consolation of Gmail,”  Ashenden said.

Still, she referred to that the mixing flow additionally “indicates that there’s more they want to do to growth adoption” of the chat tool.

“In standard, there’s a want for better advertising and marketing and recognition approximately the different competencies within G Suite, especially outside the U.S.,” she stated.

With a wide variety of collaboration options to have, how does Google plan to stand out from its competition and develop? Bank pointed to Hangouts Chat’s deep integration with G Suite apps.

A focus on productivity and minimum interruptions have been the main promoting point of Gmail. Seeing that its launch 15 years in the past, he argued. This started out with the advent of spam detection, observed with the aid of features including a concern inbox to split social and promotional messages. The equal approach may implement to Hangouts Chat.

“It is not but there, however, we need to deliver all of that generation to undergo at the Hangouts Chat product. To lessen interruption, reduce distraction and help people sense confident that they’re prepared and now not losing the ball.”

Hangouts Chat updates

At Cloud Next, a number of latest Chat features has introduced. They encompass:

Guest get right of entry to for both Rooms and direct messages. Google noted that Rooms allowing outside customers to take part can be genuinely marked.

Further integrations among Chat and G Suite apps. This consists of the capacity to transport from a one-to-one organization textual content. Discussion to a Meet video call, in addition to similar abilities for phone calls with Google Voice.

Out-of-workplace notifications will automatically display before a message consists, based on facts supplied from Google Calendar.

Updates to Drive file-sharing permissions from inside Chat. It will let customers fast offer document get right of entry to colleagues while sharing files. As opposed to requiring them to request get admission to one by one. (It will also be feasible to connect files from Team Drives into Hangouts Chat.)

The present Electron app for Hangouts Chat will replace development. Internet app based totally on the Google Chrome PWA structure later this yr. This means the app can on Linux and cross, in addition to Mac and Windows.

Given the quite aggressive marketplace, Hangouts Chat has a manner to visit healthy rival apps, analysts said.


“One substantial missing function channels,” stated Cannell.

“While Hangouts Chat has Rooms, this restraint in comparison to how Slack and Microsoft Teams are capable of prepare chats.”

“It is disappointing that Hangouts Chat doesn’t combine closer with Drive (specially Team Drives) and Docs,” he stated. “After all, maximum groups want to work on content material together.

“Microsoft Teams does an excellent job mixing file collaboration with conversations due to Teams’. Seamless integration with SharePoint and the Office apps,” he said. “Slack’s integration with Google is astonishing and arguably integrates nearer with Google Docs than Hangouts Chat.”

Also announced at Cloud Next is a brand new Bot Catalog. That shall we customers browse AI bots available to customers within Hangouts Chat. The catalog additionally allows G Suite directors to sell precise apps to their company.

Focusing on automation must play to Google’s conventional strengths, stated Ovum’s Banting. “I assume in which Google will excel is Bot skills and AI,” he said. “Google has a big network of developers that may utilize Google’s Chat Bot service to combine with G Suite offerings and statistics.”

Ashenden stated a focal point on AI and automation ought to help pass Hangouts Chat. Past chat and in the direction of communications-driven manner coordination. That might permit other programs and workflows to wove into the crew chat, she said.

“Google has made a strong start here with its bots functions. But this is not yet an imperative a part of the Hangouts Chat story. Or the wider G Suite story, for that, be counted. Its competition, Microsoft Teams, and Slack are focusing closely here. And Google needs to build its capability and method on this location as well.

“It has the various foundational pieces already, however it can simply do extra to articulate the possibilities for clients. Developers, and companions,” she stated.

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