Google is the only advertising company in the world that wants to manage the unified communications of your office. While no Madison Avenue outfit worth its wet bar would even dare dream of controlling a third of the world’s digital advertising spend, Google wants more.
The search engine giant (and its parent company, Alphabet) is determined to compete with Microsoft and Cisco to earn your subscription dollars in return for fully integrating all your voice and video calling needs.
To boost its Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) credentials, it is combining two of its established communications favorites. The company used its recent Google Cloud Next 2019 event in San Francisco to announce it is making Google Voice available across G Suite offering. That includes integration with its twin messaging apps Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.
Adding Google Voice to G Suite comes with an additional subscription cost of at least $10 a month per user, but it does shrink all your internal and external communications down to a single number–and it also provides something of an alternative to Microsoft.
What Is Google Voice?
Google has offered a free voice service to its U.S. customers since 2009. What it envisions for Google Voice, however, is a complete, unified communications package to bring its G Suite service into competitive line with Microsoft’s Office 365/Teams combination.
Google Voice is essentially a means of managing phone numbers through Google cloud services. If you’re an end-user, you get a phone number that works across all your devices so you can place and receive calls wherever and whenever you wish. It is also integrated across all your G Suite functions, including calendar and contacts, so you can keep things organized.
On the administrative side of things, Google Voice introduces a single source console for managing users, porting, and billing.
In addition, you get access to all Google’s AI capabilities, which include handy tools like call filtering, forwarding, voicemail transcriptions, text-to-speech messaging, and translation across nine different languages.
On the administrative side of things, Google Voice introduces a single source console for managing users, porting, and billing. This simplifies matters such as assigning telephone numbers, allowing you to follow the same process as you would to add a new contact to your social messaging app. To complete the unified communications offering, Voice can be incorporated into the wider world of the G Suite, including its office software and video offerings.
Google Voice with G Suite Integrates with Video
So far, Google has treated its video conferencing offerings with ambivalence. It has consistently changed its offerings, branding and rebranding several times in recent years until it finally decided to split its social and business offerings. It currently has Google Duo, a strictly one-on-one social video caller that may eventually expand to group calls, and Hangouts Meet, a professional video conferencing service.
What Google is offering is a streamlined way to handle all your communications needs.
The Next ’19 announcement means Voice can now be used to streamline your Meet affairs. As we mentioned earlier, Voice distills all your communications endpoints down to a single number. That means you can launch and receive video calls using the same contact you use for your desk phone.
That’s where the “unified” part of the Voice plan comes into effect. It should mean that you can switch between voice and video calls when necessary without having to change devices or contact lists. The integration will include both internal and external contacts and there is a smartphone app available to ease your mobility concerns.
What Google is offering is a streamlined way to handle all your communications needs. You can chat and message with the same platform you use for audio and video calls–and the whole bundle is tied to the workflow apps you use within G Suite.
The problem Google faces is the same one it has been dealing with since it entered the communications and workflow fields: Microsoft.
The Clash of the Digital Titans
Despite making substantial investments in its G Suite offering for years on end, Google has never been able to catch up to Microsoft. It even beat Microsoft to the Cloud by offering online software in advance of its rival, only to see Office 365 speed ahead in the middle of the decade. A recent survey by Silicon Valley experts BitGlass found that 65% of respondents used Office 365, compared to about 19% who used G Suite.
Google Voice shouldn’t just be integrated with Hangouts Meet–it should be a central part of it.
If it can’t beat Microsoft at the Office game, Google should instead focus its UCaaS efforts around video. The advent of software-first video platforms and the affordable costs of video hardware–you can get a complete HD group video conference room system for less than $2,000 now–means video is the new audio.
Desktop phones are disappearing from offices across the country, and collaboration apps such as Slack are rising in their place. Google Voice shouldn’t just be integrated with Hangouts Meet–it should be a central part of it. User-friendly software solutions such as Zoom have captured public attention by making video calling as easy to implement across an entire organization as it is to make a single call. That’s where the Google should focus–on setting up video calling as a simple, go-to form of communication, with Voice closely and seamlessly connected.