Let's face it, if there is one thing Google knows how to do well it's search. For all of the moonshots and extracurricular products the company puts out, its core search tools remain the company's bread and butter. Perhaps that's why they decided to apply that primary skill to the GSuite product set when it introduced Cloud Search this week.
Cloud Search brings a search layer on top of GSuite providing a way to pull together the various pieces like word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, and email. So when you conduct a search for an individual, the search tool can look across the range of services and pull not just contact information as you would expect, but also any related shared meetings and shared files that could be relevant to that meeting.
When I spoke to Jacob Bank, product manager for Google Apps (now GSuite) last Fall he suggested that something like this was in the works. "We want to help people articulate what they want to accomplish and provide any nudges and assistance to help people make decisions." He indicated at the time that Google was working on bringing machine learning and artificial intelligence to bear on these problems. He didn't specifically mention an integrated search tool, but it's the kind of thing he was probably talking about.
And indeed, Cloud Search has some intelligence built in as it scans a company's and individual's work life to proactively list upcoming events and the documents and other tools that seem relevant to the system. How well this works in practice of course, depends on how smart the system is, but in theory at least, this seems like a great use of search inside a limited environment.
Everyone wants Google Search at work
Employees have been complaining for years that they want a search experience as simple as Google web search in their companies. You enter a few keywords and presto chango, a list of highly relevant results appear. The problem with internal search tools in the past such as the Google Search Appliance was that unlike the web, there was a limited world of results inside the corporation.
That might seem like a good problem, but it was the opposite. Without enough results, the search engine had a hard time doing its job. It's a case where more data is better. When there are only few correct responses, it's actually harder to find the right documents.
That's what is so compelling about Google Cloud search. It doesn't pretend to be a mini version of Google Search in a box like the appliance did. Instead, it's a search engine built to do a particular job, and that's to find related information in a limited system, an easier problem to solve. And one that Google is well prepared to do.
What's more, the Search Appliance couldn't take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, which Google has developed today. Cloud Search can learn as more people use the system and it can begin to make more accurate connections between data types — email, calendar entries, shared files, and people.
And it's a true cloud app, meaning that you can access it on mobile or desktop (although it only supports Android for now).
Some have suggested it's more like Google Now for the enterprise than it is a true search tool, but whatever you call it, it's designed specifically to meet the needs of a business environment and connect the dots between information types whenever possible.Photo: Google