Google Apps for Work Under The Alphabet Structure

With Google’s recently announced restructuring, where does Google Apps for Work fit in?

Google Apps will live along side a set of related technologies, including Android (which has apps for Google Apps for Work), Search (used in Gmail, Google Drive and Google Sites), YouTube (Google Drive uses the YouTube engine) and Maps (Google My Maps is now part of Google Apps for Work).

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Five Google Sites Use Cases

Google Sites is not necessarily the first application that enters the mind of most people as a platform for building out a corporate website, but there are a number of Google Sites use cases that organizations can take advantage of.

One of the great aspects of Google Sites is the fact that it has the built-in sharing options that are common to all Google Apps components. These granular permission levels make Google Sites easy to adapt to a variety of “non standard” use cases.

Here are five ways to use Google Sites other than as a corporate website platform.

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Publishing Pivot Table Charts to Your Website With Google Sheets

In the spring of 2013, we used SurveyMonkey Audience to collect data about what CRM systems were deployed at organizations across the U.S. The main question we asked in the survey was “What is your organization’s primary CRM system?”

After the survey finished its run, SurveyMonkey provided us with a CSV file of the survey results from approximately 750 respondents. The first thing we did was to upload the CSV file to Google Drive and then open the file with Google Sheets. Once we had the data in Google Sheets, we were able to easily create pivot tables and associated charts.

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Three Great Apps For Scheduling and Tracking Gmail

Schedule and Track GmailThrough the use of simple-to-install browser apps and extensions, several vendors now offer Gmail users instant access to business productivity and sales enablement tools.

Users of business Gmail, part of Google Apps for Work, have several options for scheduling emails, tracking whether emails were opened and finding out whether links were within opened emails were clicked by recipients. And this is only a subset of the empowering functionality that’s available to Gmail users.

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Using Google Drawings to Create “Live” Marketing CTAs

Live Marketing CTAs in Google DrawingsA best practice for B2B marketers is to include a call to action (CTA) image at the bottom of every blog post.

When a visitor clicks on the CTA image, they can be directed to a landing page that provides a free offer.

A common process for creating a marketing call to action graphic is to:

  1. Create an image in an image editor (or PowerPoint)
  2. Save the image to a local drive
  3. Upload the image to WordPress or to a marketing automation system’s files area
  4. Incorporate the image into one or more blog posts

If, for any reason you want to modify the CTA image, you need to repeat the entire process.

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Moving to Gmail for Business: Migration Options

Moving to Gmail for BusinessIf you are thinking about moving from your current email provider to business Gmail for your organization, you’re probably wondering what would be involved with associating existing users’ email addresses, which are in a name@yourcompany.com type format, with a new G Suite account.

Also, what’s the best way to get your users’ often years worth of sent and received email into their Gmail accounts?

A move to business Gmail involves a number of technical tasks. However, this post is designed to provide a mainly non-technical overview of the tasks and options involved.

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What is G Suite and Should My Business Use It?

Updated: August 21, 2018

What is G Suite?Most people are aware of consumer Gmail. If you don’t personally use Gmail, you likely receive email from friends and family with gmail.com addresses.

What many people don’t realize is that Gmail is also available to organizations. Gmail is just one of the components of G Suite, formerly Google Apps for Work. Other components include Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Sites.

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Chromebooks vs. Tablets for Corporate Sales Teams

Chromebooks - Nothing but the webCould Chromebooks be the sleeper device that IT managers have been waiting for?

Ever since laptop computers first became widely adopted within corporations, IT departments have been responsible for imaging machines, updating software and providing remote technical and application support to salespeople and other mobile users.  Any time a notebook computer breaks, is lost, stolen, or invaded by malware, there’s a time consuming replacement and/or repair process.

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Business Collaboration with Google Docs & Sites

Google has been actively touting the collaboration features of Google Apps and has developed some excellent marketing content around the various components of Google Apps.  But, what are some specific, real world examples of how Google Docs and Google Sites can be used for collaboration in business?

As a CRM consulting company with employees in different locations along the west coast, collaborative tools are very important to our overall efficiency and our responsiveness to customer needs.  Here just a few of the ways we collaborate using Documents and Sites within Google Apps Premier Edition.

Using Google Sites to Manage Projects

With Google Sites, we can set up a Site for each customer.  Each customer Site is shared with everyone within our company.  Within a Site, one or more projects is set up for the customer.  Within a project we’ve created template pages for areas such as:

  • The project summary
  • The customer’s CRM functional requirements
  • The data migration scripts that were used
  • An embedded spreadsheet for managing a punch list of open issues
  • A link to a folder that contains all project related Google Docs ranging from Statements of Work to training documentation

Subscribing to a Site or a page generates an email with every single change, which makes the notifications impractical if frequent changes are made.  An option for a periodic digest email would be a good enhancement.

We also plan to replace our Twiki content with Google Sites, as Sites is a more user-friendly option and we don’t need to worry about managing uptime as we do with our Twiki.

Google Spreadsheets for Collaborating on Open Items

A Google spreadsheet has proven to be a very effective mechanism for creating a list of open items or issues that need to be addressed prior to a CRM cutover (or even post cutover).  As a project manager/business analyst is logging issues found during his/her own testing or from customer feedback, a developer can be simultaneously viewing the same spreadsheet and tackling new issues as they are added as new rows in the spreadsheet.

If someone needs to be nudged to check the spreadsheet, an editor can send a friendly reminder email right from within the spreadsheet to one or more of the other collaborators.  This list can also be shared out to customer contacts who already have a Google login or who don’t mind creating one.

Leveraging a Google Presentation to Collaborate on Application Testing

Taking the spreadsheet concept one step further, a shared Google presentation can be used by an application tester to include both text and screen shots to communicate needed fixes or changes to a developer.  It’s very easy to take a screen shot of a problem area and the upload the screen shot to a slide along with text annotation.  Crystal clear communication can be provided to the developer.

It does not seem that Google Apps Videos can be embedded within Google Presentations yet, but we hope that feature is added down the road.  The ability to have a full motion explanation of an issue is occasionally needed — this is currently be accomplished by attaching an MOV or MP4 screencast to a GMail or by setting up a quick GoToMeeting.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve found that Google Docs and Sites can be used for collaboration.  What are some of the ways that your organization collaborates with Google Apps?

The “World is Flat” Google Infrastructure

It’s easy for a user of free GMail or of Google Apps for Work to take for granted the massive and highly sophisticated infrastructure behind what’s on their screen.  In fact, most people don’t really have any reason to think about what’s behind their user experience, any more than they care about what’s generating the electrical power that runs lights and appliances inside their house — as Nicholas Carr points out in his book, The Big Switch.

The people who are evaluating Google Apps for their organization are the ones who do care about what’s under the hood. Google’s infrastructure, of course originally designed for search, is very different from the way in which traditional IT environments are structured. While the term “cloud” is an excellent metaphor for utility computing that’s served up from somewhere out in the ether, Google’s infrastructure is very much terrestrial, and it covers a lot of ground globally.

As a basis of comparison, let’s look at the environment that many Google Apps customers have come from — Exchange Server. With Exchange Server, each user within an organization typically connects directly to a single physical or virtual box from their Outlook client. There’s usually drive redundancy, such as RAID-10, built into that server (or group of servers) and then the server is in turn, backed up.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with this environment (as long as a proper disaster recovery plan is in place), and Exchange Server is an extremely robust application.  However, one perspective on this structure is that all users are connected up to a mother ship — a form of parent/child relationship.

In many ways, Google Apps is on the complete other end of the spectrum. Users are wired into a very large, global infrastructure and data are widely distributed through Google’s Bigtable database and accompanying file system. When a user sends an email, the write is to a number of different drives that are located in different physical locations — often on different continents.

What does this architecture translate into for practical purposes?

Google Apps Uptime

This architecture allows Google to guarantee 99.9% uptime for Google Apps for Work. As we all know, for email, users’ downtime tolerance thresholds are very low. Email downtime can be very costly depending upon when it happens.

Application Cost

All Google Apps customers are on one, very large instance of Google’s application.  This makes for significant economies of scale in terms of sharing physical resources.  In addition, Google has designed their data centers around cheap, commodity hardware and free software — which makes their incremental expansion costs relatively inexpensive.  This allows Google charge only $50 per user per year for Google Apps for Work — and presumably their financial people have run the numbers on this price point.

Google Apps Upgrades

The single, multi-tenant instance also means that upgrades are frequent and transparent, compared to event-based upgrades in a legacy environment. Customers don’t have to pay anything extra for upgrades – they just happen in background. Innovation occurs very quickly and newly released innovations are usable immediately.

Collaboration

Google Sites, which is part of Google Apps, can take the place of a wiki. For example a Google Site can be used to collaborate on a project or on a set of best practices.  Google continues to enhance the more traditional document, spreadsheet and presentation categories — these are also highly collaborative in nature.

Third Party Innovation

Google Apps’s marketplace offers a variety of business productivity add-ons, some of which leverage the recently released GMail Contextual Gadget capabilities. Google Apps customers can get incremental business value with just a few clicks.

Google’s unique, flat, global architecture represents a significant shift in thinking for many IT professionals and corporate decision makers. Each day, thousands of organizations are embracing this new approach to corporate email and collaboration — and it’s still relatively early in the game.