In the latest upgrade to its Google Apps suite, Google has added Google Groups functionality for its Premier and Education Edition users. In doing so, Google hopes to ease the burden of managing groups that is traditionally placed on IT as well as help companies make better use of data that is held in users' e-mails.
Typically, setting up an e-mail work group within an enterprise requires having the IT department both set up and maintain the group. With Google Groups, any user can create a group by naming it, setting up a group e-mail address, and adding the addresses of any group members. This is not to say the IT department is completely cut out of the loop, however, as it still has full admin control over the groups.
[ While Google continues to make progress in the enterprise front, it still faces an uphill battle against Microsoft. ]
Also, Google Groups provides fully searchable e-mail archives, meaning late additions to the group can get up to speed with what's been happening without other users having to dig into their own archives to resurface relevant old e-mails. The archives also allow you to see if other groups in other parts of the company are working on a similar project to your own, creating more opportunities for collaboration and data sharing.
Google says the Groups feature is the latest example of its commitment to bringing consumer innovation into the enterprise. The technology was originally intended for things like activity groups or family mailing lists, but the copany expects that transition from lightweight consumer use to enterprise departments or work teams should be a smooth one.