Google Launches Springboard Enterprise Search Tool, Revamps Sites

The updates will boost the ability of enterprise workers to conduct searches across apps and to collaborate with others.

Google enterprise search tool

Enterprise users of Google Apps for Work now have a new tool that the company says will help them search more easily through and find information from Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, Groups and other applications.

Google Springboard, announced this week, will also assist users by proactively serving up "actionable" information and recommendations relevant to their work. The company did not offer any details on what kind of additional information Springboard would surface or when or how it would appear.

However, from its description, Springboard seems to be somewhat similar in function to Google's Now on Tap Android app, which also serves up contextual information when users are conducting searches or using apps on their mobile devices.

Prabhakar Raghavan, vice president of engineering at Google Apps, said the company has been previewing Google Springboard with a small group of beta testers over the past few months. The company is now making the tool available to more enterprises via an early adopter program, Raghavan said in a post on the Google for Work blog.

Google this week also announced new updates to its Google Sites app for building intranets for project collaboration and information sharing within the enterprise.

The updates make it easier for enterprise workers to build pages that let them aggregate and distribute content across the enterprise without having to worry about optimizing the content for different screen formats first. The updates include a drag-and-drop component that lets multiple workers collaborate in real time on content from different apps.

Templates with themes and layouts that automatically scale to fit different screen sizes are also available with the newly revamped Sites, Raghavan said.

As with Springboard, Google this week announced an early Adopter Program for the updated version of Sites. Administrators interested in participating in the programs can sign up either at the Google Sites early adopter program or the Google Springboard early adopter program.

Organizations that sign up for the Sites early adopter program will still have access to content on the classic version of Google Sites, which means users will be able to share and edit content the way they are doing currently. According to Google, when the updated Google Sites becomes generally available, it will allow enterprises to migrate content easily from the classic version to the new platform.

"Google is no stranger to helping enterprise customers sort through their corporate information and making it more useful for employees," Raghavan noted. Springboard and the newly revamped Sites reflect the company's efforts to build on that by bringing in new machine intelligence capabilities and other features from Google's Web search engine technology, he said.

Google Sites is often considered a rival to Microsoft's SharePoint in the market for content management systems and tools that enable the creation of enterprise wiki and collaboration sites.

Reliable numbers are not easily available for how Sites stacks up against SharePoint in terms of market share. However, both Microsoft and Google are engaged in a fierce rivalry for the broader market for cloud-based office productivity tools. A report from BitGlass last year showed Microsoft's Office 365 suite holding a 25.5 percent share compared with 22.8 percent for Google Apps, with the former gaining market share at a much faster rate than the latter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.