Google Cloud NEXT '17 - News and Updates

The future of team communications (Google Cloud Next ’17)

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(Video Transcript)
[MUSIC PLAYING] SCOTT JOHNSTON: I'm Scott Johnston. I'm on the Hangouts team. Thanks for coming to this session. We're going to talk about team communications and how we've been thinking about them in G Suite. I think that one of the early questions when we started working on Hangouts for productivity and for teams was, what really makes a successful team? And you may have seen us publish within Google a study called Aristotle, where we followed teams over many, many years and looked for what characteristics really made a successful team. We've done that with our G Suite customers as well. And that's really where we started in terms of getting to the heart of what tools do we need to provide teams with to make them better teams. And really to make a team of 300 function like a team of three. And so one of the core– there's a number of takeaways– well one of the key ones for me was really that there wasn't a lot of commonality between work styles or particular behavior of the teams in terms of being highly communicative or not so, or having a certain set of personalities or having a key mix of personalities.

But really in the end the foundation of the most successful teams that we found when we did research was that it was driven by experiences. So their foundations were what– the foundations were the base of how they interacted. And those came through in that they were able to have emotional interactions. So they were able to connect at a level that was usually outside of work. They had– they could have complex conversations that were often heated and intense, and people felt safe having those kinds of conversations. And everyone seemed to have a mix of work styles. And so they needed tools that supported those work styles. They had a great deal of control over deciding when you were going to work and when you weren't. Excuse me. And so that really was at the foundation of the products that we built, both from Jamboard through to Hangouts. And then the other thing that we just have seen, and I don't need to tell you this, is just this proliferation of tools that we can use now to be productive.

And the more tools the better. But at the same time people were jumping between and having trouble staying in the loop. Even something as simple as a spreadsheet to track something going on requires us to go to that spreadsheet. And there's a cognitive step there. And that takes time. And so we really needed to figure out a way to take communication and span it across an ecosystem maps, not just create a new home that people would go to, and think that would solve the problem. And so what we announced this morning, for those of you who weren't at the keynote, is a rebuilt Hangouts. And there are really two components of team productivity that we focused on. One was the virtual room within chat. And then the other was meetings, face-to-face meetings being key, getting you into meetings. And there was a session earlier today, maybe some of you made on Hangouts Meet. But what this session is going to talk about in a bit more detail is really how we rebuild Hangouts chat, the focus on team productivity.

There were really three key principles that we were working with. One was this ability to focus. And there's a couple different aspects around focus and teams. One is your ability to turn off whatever communication tool that you're using so it doesn't bother you, and you can focus and get into flow. But also, even within the communication tool, we knew we had to figure out a way that, especially in real time communications, a way to allow people to have conversations that didn't interrupt other conversations. And we've all seen this in consumer chat tools, where conversation will get woven and fragmented, really. You'll be deep in one conversation, and another person will bring up another topic. And that fragments the conversation and often is very frustrating to users. So we had to figure out a way to get a form of focus on the ability to drill into a particular topic without interrupting others. Expression was key. And this is linked to what I was talking about earlier, around teams really needing to be able to connect at an experience level and at an emotional level.

And then the other core part was connecting the different tools, bringing them into the same UI. And then automation was core. And that really– I know we talk at Google a lot about machine learning, but automation actually starts earlier than machine learning. Which is– even our own products, for example, take way too many steps for you guys, for you folks to do things. If you're in a six person meeting, creating a Docs file and sharing it with those six people is way too many steps right now. And so there's a coarse automation focus we needed to have to start to automatically do things that require too many steps right now. And that's just a simple computer science problem, not a machine learning problem. But we knew we needed to start there. And that's where, when you look at some of what we talked about this morning around the Meet agent that automatically schedules things for you, that's what that's about, is how do we eliminate as many steps from your day as possible, so you can focus on the work at hand?

Like other products in G Suite we knew we had a strong focus on the enterprise. That's everything from security to scalability. And scalability doesn't just mean classic fan out and ability to handle a lot of users, but also the ability to really work within an organization in a scalable way. And so what you'll learn about Hangouts Chat is that the structures of it can be wired up to Google Groups or connected to central identity systems such that you can have rooms configured around specific teams and departments, such that you're not dealing with this giant pile of discussion rooms. But instead it's divided into topical areas that are relevant to your team. And what that means is that you can scale across an enterprise and not just work in a small business setting. Accessibility is core to everything we do in G Suite. And so that's the foundation of everything in design from the very beginning. Reliability, ease of use, these are things that are just part of our DNA.

And so we're going to talk now– we're going to bring up Mike, who works within the Hangouts team– and we're going to walk through a more detailed demo of Hangouts chat, just to dive into details beyond this morning. MIKE SORVILLO: MIKE: Cool. Thank you guys. We all know there's this perfect process that you'll put in place for a new idea, new products, a new project, but never goes the way you want it to go. It's always a bit more organic, a bit more unstructured. And we're going to show you how a team at Tegu Toys uses the new Hangouts Chat to plan a new product and get it out to the market. So can we switch to the demo, please? Perfect. So the first thing you'll notice is we have a brand new web UI we just built from the ground up, completely dedicated to just a chat interface. So just like Hangouts today, we have direct messages where you can talk one on one with somebody. Right now I'm talking with Mandy. She put a– we're just having a conversation about some of the existing toys.

And I mentioned that I have a new idea for a toy that I want to work on. So one of the main things we've added to the new Hangouts Chat are rooms, the ability to centralize conversations around projects or teams. So instead of actually– thanks, Mandy. Instead of actually having a conversation right here with Mandy, I want to bring Varun into the conversation as well. And I want to create a room for this new project. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go down here, click the Add button, and create a new room for the project. I'm going to add Mandy and Varun to the room itself, and put a Google doc in the room that talks a little bit more details about the project. Now all I have to do to bring Mandy into the room is just at mention her, and Varun as well. And right away they're brought into the room and ready to go. The new Hangouts Chat also lets you add Google Groups as members. So if you use Google Groups to manage identity across your whole company, you can reuse those same groups to deploy Hangouts Chat to your entire organization.

The other thing you'll notice is that I just pasted a Google Docs link. We have deep integration with Google Drive and Google Docs. So any link you post will automatically get a beautiful thumbnail rendered right in line, so everybody can quickly get back to files, in addition to the fact that we changed the file permissions to automatically match the room. So everyone in the room can have access. And we remove the mundane task of requesting access and giving access, so people could just start working immediately. So this right now, this is what we like to call the seed of the team, right? We have an idea. We have some content. We have some people. We have some conversation. And the thing you'll notice is, we didn't need to bother IT about this. We didn't need to say hey, can you please create an email alias for us? Or hey, can you provision something new on our on-prem filer for us. We just got together, started working immediately. And you can see right now, everyone's busy at work.

Mandy's putting a bunch of stuff into the chat. She put a projection spreadsheet into the chat. Varun's putting a Gantt chart into the chat for how we can actually get this project moving forward. And we recognize that when you're working on projects you're going to be talking about different things. So one thing you'll notice is that rooms are threaded. We let you separate the conversation and keep context around different things. So the conversation about the projections spreadsheet can be separated from the conversation about the Gantt chart. And threads are not just great for separating out different topics within it, but it also helps separate the unimportant chitchat that happens, like where do you want to go for lunch, or what movie did you see this weekend, from the important work. Now these threads are not meant to feel heavyweight. They're not meant to feel like something you need to manage or you need to organize. We don't want to put work on the user.

So the way they work is whenever a new thread gets updated, it bumps down to the bottom. And you'll get notified. And you'll be able to see all the things you haven't read. So over time what ends up happening is, all the important discussions bubble up to the bottom. And all of the unimportant stuff, or the stuff that's been resolved, just kind of floats into the ether of the chat history. So you'll see right here that there's a bunch of conversation going on with Mady and Varun on the Gantt chart. And I'm sure everyone in the audience has experienced this before, where you text a friend, they text you back, you text them again, they text you back. And eventually you're like OK, please just stop. Let's just talk on the telephone. This is taking forever. So we recognize this happens at work all the time as well. So what we've done is we've deeply integrated Hangouts Meet into Hangouts chat. So when I want to just stop the chat conversation, I can click this button down here and insert a video meeting, write a little note.

Post it into the chat room. And now a video meeting was created. With one click I could jump into the meeting. And I'm put into a green room where I can see how I look, see who else is in the meeting. And then I can jump into the meeting. And you'll notice Mandy's in the meeting right now. And we could get started. So this is Hangouts Meet. Like Scott mentioned earlier, hopefully you guys caught the session earlier. We talked about it a little bit at the keynote itself. Oh, everybody left. We talked about it at the keynote itself, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about it right now. But at a high level, specifically designed with enterprise use in mind. So a completely new code base. Less code means faster CPU speed, better performance, and specific enterprise features, like one click to present, the ability for non-Google Apps customers to dial into a meeting, and the ability for people to dial in on the road with a dial-in telephone number. So we were able to take this low bandwidth conversation in chat and move it to a high bandwidth conversation with video and resolve it very fast.

So some time has passed, and I want to add Nicole to this project. So I'm going to do that on the new Hangouts Chat mobile apps. Can we switch to the [INAUDIBLE] vision please? Great. So– wonderful. So I have to do, like before, when I want to add someone to the meeting– to the room, excuse me, is I just need to at mention them to bring them in. So we'll type Nicole's name. I'll add her. Acknowledge she's going to be in the room. And now she's brought into the room. And this is where rooms really shine. So when you onboard new employees, there's always a ramp up period, right? You need to tell the new employees what they should be reading, what everybody's working on, the way your team works. You know they spend some time rifling through some outdated filers, looking at stale documents that really are kind of irrelevant and don't even matter anymore. But the great thing about this now is that Nicole's in this room. She can see the most recent conversations.

She could jump right into the most recent conversations. And she could see all the files as well. And the most recent ones are probably the most relevant ones as well. And like I mentioned before, because we have deep Drive integration, Nicole already has access to these files. So we don't need to retroactively give her access to the files, which is great. So over time this room becomes very much like a centralized team hub, a team repository, where all the important conversations you have live, all the files you've shared live as well. So we've indexed all that and made it completely searchable. So when I want to search, just click on the little Search button. And we know through all of our Drive research and our Gmail research, you can never remember the file name of a file someone shared with you, or ever remember the subject line of an email. But you always have those other little nuggets of information, like who sent the file, or what kind of thing they sent. So while you can search for keyword, what we've seen in our trusted testers, many people actually just search by person or search by type.

So when I want to, I can get back to that document that I just posted earlier and the room itself. Cool. Can we switch back to demo, please? So we know that with chat apps, notifications can be a problem. So we want to make sure you don't feel like you're working all the time. We have very granular chat controls, to let you dial up or dial down the notifications to as much as you want. So if you want to be in the loop all the time, you can say, send me everything. But if you don't, you can just say OK, only notify me when I was specifically mentioned. Someone was trying to get my attention, so you know it's a good time to write back. And not only that, we have notification controls at the thread level as well. So when there becomes a really unwieldy thread that's a little noisy, or maybe a thread that is a little bit not even relevant to you, like perhaps I don't care about this Gantt chart, all I have to do is just mute this thread right here. And now I will no longer get any notifications in that thread at all.

So let's fast forward one year. These colored blocks, they're in the market. And we are working with a bunch of other tools to help us. And with these tools, we've integrated them using the Hangouts platform. So they're actually in the chat UI itself. So let me switch over to the sales leads room, just to give an example. So our team uses Zendesk for high touch distribution partners. So these are folks that are really important. And we want to know whenever there's an issue with them, so we can forward their ticket and respond promptly. So Zendesk has built a Zendesk bot that notifies people whenever a high priority item comes in. So you can see right here that something was posted. A high priority ticket was created from ToyMart. And the issue is that a bunch of people are returning this specific toy set because parts are missing. So we need to fix that. And we need to rectify the situation with them, so they can be happy. So right away Patrick just said, can you take this, and forwarded that over to Scott, so he can take it and jump on it.

Our team also uses ProsperWorks CRM to keep track of current customers and prospective customers. So I'm going to switch over to ProsperWorks now. This is our sales pipeline. So you can see all of the opportunities that we have, and broken up into all the different stages right now. We just had a pitch with Dinosaur Hill Toys in New York City, and the pitch went really well. So they said they're going to carry the color blocks in their store. So what we're going to do is we're going to move this Dinosaur Hill Toys from presentation into contract sent, because that's the stage it's in right now. So we've moved it. And now when you go over to the Chat UI, you'll notice in real time the notification was posted, saying Dinosaur Hill Toys was changed from presentation to contract sent. And now anyone could start commenting on this. Like Mandy just said– I think that's fireworks, right? So Mady just posted some fireworks. Varun called me a superstar, which is very sweet.

So I could do that in real time. And not only do we want to make it so third parties can push things into the chat UI, we want to make it so users can actually pull data from third parties into the chat UI as well. So when I want to find out what my sales numbers were last month, all I have to do is talk to the ProsperWorks bot. And it'll write back, letting me know that I closed a total of $4,300 worth of sales last month. So can we switch back to the presentation, please? So we're teaming with a number of companies to build bots on the Hangouts Chat platform, from a number of business functions. So regardless of if you work in sales or marketing, customer service, HR, the tools you use every single day will be even more useful to you in Hangouts Chat. Can we switch back to the presentation, please? Demo, sorry. So not only can you work with these other third party services, we allow you to easily build bots using Apps Script. Which means that you can write very custom workflow specific to your company, and deploy them to your entire domain.

So you can do things like, perhaps you have a ticketing system that's just custom internal to your company. You could write a bot that lets the user submit tickets straight from the chat UI. You could deploy it to all the users in your domain. So on day one they can use it without having to go to another external tool. So we also use the chat platform to– the Hangouts platform, excuse me– to build our own bots. So like Scott mentioned earlier, we demoed the Meet bot at the keynote. And the Meet bot uses natural language processing and machine intelligence to automatically schedule a meeting for us. So I'm going to switch over to the Launch Coordination room. And I think Mandy is going to show us how it'll work. So she asked the Meet Bot to find a time today. And it wrote back with a card. Now there's actually a lot of really intelligent things happening here. The Meet bot understands things like today, tomorrow, next week, next month, two months from now. It understands when people are on vacation, when people are in the office.

It understands what time zones people are in. So if I have a meeting with someone in Zurich, we're not scheduling that meeting at 11:30 PM for them. You can do other things, like reschedule the meeting. So Mady moved the meeting to tomorrow. It looked at the calendars. It rescheduled the meeting to tomorrow. It supports other commands in the future, like canceling the meeting, adding additional people to the meeting, meeting right now, and also just booking a room for you, if you want to just huddle really quick. We're also going to be building other bots in the future that are very intelligent on top of the Hangouts chat platform, that we're going to be excited to share with you in the coming months. So I'm going to turn it back over to Scott to jump back into the slides. [APPLAUSE] SCOTT JOHNSTON: Thanks, Mike. That was great. So that's at a high level just a walk through of the new Hangouts chat. And three main areas that we focused on, direct messages, which we support now in classic Hangouts, along with Presence, we added virtual team rooms for huddling around projects, teams, topics, and a new Hangouts platform that supports everything from scripting with Google Apps Script through to intelligent bots.

Some of the key features that we're launching are ranged from search, everything from free text search to, as Mike touched on, filtering by people and types of files, custom workflows with Apps Script, Docs and Drive integration, the Hangouts platform itself, the Meet bot that comes with intelligent scheduling– with Hangouts chat and does intelligent scheduling, and enterprise readiness across the Hangouts platform. So high level, looking at helping you connect easily, get stuff done, and be ready for your enterprise. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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In this video, you’ll hear about the latest additions to G Suite in the area of team communications. Scott Johnston discusses how you can use G Suite’s integrated tool set to foster strong team culture, connectedness, and productivity.

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Comments to The future of team communications (Google Cloud Next ’17)

  • please welcome Slack @ Google !!! 🙂

    Pascal Gula March 13, 2017 10:53 pm Reply
  • mobile demo starts from 13:50.

    Anakinx March 15, 2017 4:26 pm Reply

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