Google Documents already had a place in my heart for the ease with which basic lists could be shared across devices and accounts with a complete audit trail. The features were more than enough for almost any personal or business reason.
Then came word last week that Google Documents was integrating email and comments into “discussions”. The concept is simple. Using the @ function that is quickly becoming the standard in new media communications, people sharing documents can now have discussions about them. Even better is the new “resolve” feature. After a discussion inside Google Docs without resorting to long email threads that may not have brought everyone up to speed, the item can be marked as “resolved”. And if the person you’re trying to reach doesn’t have the document shared with them, simply type the @ sign and their email address to bring them in.
Finis. We’re done here. On to the next issue or quit tangenting off and focus.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because the discussion feature in Google Docs is an awful lot like the feature set in Google Wave. The main difference is that Wave was built around an email box while this new discussion feature is built into the document, spreadsheet or slide deck. The change of where this functionality is located creates an entirely new way to use docs. We’ve written before about collaboration inside Google Docs when the ability to share a drawing was launched last year. We suggested that was really the Google Whiteboard.
That was before seeing this new collaboration feature being used. This is truly the Google Whiteboard and a great example of a company repurposing its assets to enhance its service offerings. With this, Google Apps continue to be the small business’ best friend. Your takeaway as a small business leader is that Google may not only replace Microsoft Office, but can bring a new level of collaboration to your operations by integrating partners, remote team members and even clients.
Have a look at the video and start thinking about how you can integrate discussions into your workflow.