Monday, April 9, 2012

Deviancy from Disruption - pt 2

The previous post discussed the differences between Google & Facebook and why Google is struggling to align itself with the new social web, where people are the data sets that are indexed and sorted, rather than the webpages themselves. My hypothesis is that this re-alignment isn't a technology challenge as it is about customers. Unfortunately, Google is the victim of their own success.

Google's re-alignment faces numerous challenges across various domains:
  • Technology
  • Organizational
  • Customer
Technology
This isn't a big issue for Google. They have the resources and talent to adapt their algorithms and R&D their way into a social web.

Organizational
As a large organization, even with the famed flat organizational structure,  re-aligning the different teams to focus on a new vision is challenging. We've seen some results of these changes, as many of Google products have received an updated UX and Google+ integration. Kudos to Google for pushing the changes as quick as they did.

Customer
However, the larger challenge is changing customer habits. This is why Google's struggle is beyond their control. They can't engineer their way to get the users to be more social on Google products. We are trained to treat Google as a librarian, someone we ask to find a book (pardon the pun). Our interactions are only as long as the time it takes to find the book.  We are also trained to spend more time on a few specific books, much in the same way we tend to congregate at the same local lunch place. It is just our habit.

So, how does Google change our habits? Can they wean us of Facebook or will they find new avenues to be social? The biggest avenue is mobile and that is where they can win. Facebook hasn't really told us how they plan on monetizing their mobile presence, but I'm sure they are on it.

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