Google Throws Apps Contacts Open to Enterprise

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Google is making it easier for users to find contacts within an enterprise, mirroring existing enterprise social software from IBM, Socialtext and Jive.

For Google Apps users who have been waiting for the software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite to resemble some of today’s social networks for businesses, Google is surfacing Gmail contacts more readily within companies.

When corporate employees search for a contact in Gmail, they’ll see relevant contacts from their company’s global address lists. Previously, the only Gmail contacts that would appear were those that the user had previously e-mailed, or manually added.

The Google Apps team also launched a new application programming interface (API) that gives administrators for Google Apps Premier Edition. When combined with the existing shared contacts API, the user profiles API lets admins grab and update profile information for all users on a company domain, ideally to make it easier for employees to find and contact each other.

These APIs will also let admins display user details, such as department, office location or job title, of company contacts in the global address list. See the enhanced Google contacts here.

In-box socialisation is table stakes for software makers that want to appeal to new enterprise customers by making it easier for workers to find company colleagues.

For Google, the idea is to further socialize the Gmail experience for Google Apps users, bringing the suite up to par with rival products such as IBM’s Lotus Connections and social software solutions from Socialtext and Jive Software.
Google Apps 1 July also enabled template galleries for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers. Users of Google Docs can create templates for anything from digital resumes and cover letters to event invitations and business invoices.

Now any user in a company domain can create templates in Docs, such as branded presentations, document letterhead or spreadsheets, and add them to their organisation’s gallery. Google says these templates can be documents, presentations, spreadsheets or even forms and will not be visible outside of company domains.

Users will be able to sort and narrow the templates by usage, rating and document type, according to Valerie Blechar, Google Apps software engineer. See example templates and instructions for how to submit a template here.

The move comes nearly after year after Google introduced the galleries to individual Google Docs users.