G Suite Year in Review 2018

Transcription of the video below:

This week I wanted to do our 2018 Year in Review for G Suite. I was hoping to do this last month but I guess it’s better late than never. There were a lot of updates in 2018 for G Suite, and it was actually kind of difficult to narrow them down. What I’ve done is, I’ve put them under five headings. Gmail, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, security or administrative features, and integrations.

So the first one is Gmail, there was a lot of focus on the Gmail Interface change so when the update came out a huge amount of people were focused on the change to the actual look and feel, and I think that that was really important. But for me, it actually had a lot more to do with some of the additional features that were launched as part of the update.

So for example, Google also launched Quick Reply and Smart Compose as part of the update to the new look and feel, and they actually allow you to respond to emails quicker, so this is part of Google’s mission to bring in AI and machine learning into some of their G Suite products and tools to allow people to get their work done faster and more efficiently.

Now, when I first started using Smart Compose I was a little bit apprehensive about it, I didn’t think I would use it that often, but actually, it became very, very valuable. What it does is it predicts what you’re going to write as you’re typing it, and all you have to do is hit tab if you want to basically put in the suggestion that its made. And if you don’t, you can just continue typing, so it really kind of stays out of the way, which is excellent for a feature like that.

The next one is the sidebar, and the sidebar is Google’s way of fixing some of the issues that there has been with having Chrome extensions, whereby the extensions act as a contextual gadget, which is what they used to be called. And one of the challenges was, when you would instal multiple extensions or gadgets, some of them would push other gadgets out of the way, and that would mess up the look and feel of your Gmail.

What they’re doing now is consolidating it all into this sidebar, and it means that all apps have the same sort of consistency on wireframe, and it just means that there’s less clashing between the different applications, and it’s a lot cleaner as well. They actually eventually rolled out the sidebar into some of the other applications like Drive and Calendar as well. So, very useful for accessing other applications from within your Gmail. A perfect example of this would be your calendar, or a very common one would also be CRM systems.

So the final area within Gmail is snoozing or reminders, and you can actually snooze an email for a period of time now and have it pop back into your inbox at a later date. But also, Google will remind you, or what it calls Nudging, nudges you if you haven’t responded to an email, or if someone hasn’t responded to you.

I’ve actually found this really, really helpful, particularly when I’m in contact with customers, and maybe I’ve gotten a lot of emails at the same time, and there’s one or two particular emails I’ve forgotten about. Google just pushes it back up to the top of my inbox and says, “Hey! Don’t forget about this particular email, you haven’t responded in four or five days.” So, an extremely useful feature in today’s work environment where we’re bombarded with a huge volume of email.

So the next area is Google Drive. Google launched a huge amount of updates to Google Drive, some of you may be familiar with Team Drives, and Drive File Stream, I’ve done some previous videos on that. And Google launched updates to Team Drive, updates to the Drive File Stream tool in particular, and around Google Drive really made an effort to make the tool more useful for companies that want to use those collaborative abilities within G Suite, but don’t always necessarily want to use it for email and calendar.

A huge part of this was actually launching Drive as a separate skew or product. So, you can now purchase Google Drive on its own, and that’s the first time that you’ve been able to buy an individual app from Google without some other application. So, it’s basically called Drive Enterprise and it includes Drive, and Google Vault, and many of the security features.

I think what this is, is this is Google recognising that there are organisations out there that may want to stay on products like Microsoft Office for mail and calendar, but also want to be able to leverage Google’s collaboration capabilities. I think this is actually a really good sign for everyone.

And then, further to that, they actually launched a lot of updates to surface information within Drive, and make Drive more useful or more valuable. So again, some of the machine learning, AI stuff, a feature called Quick Access, which looks at information within your G Suite account and tries to surface the particular file that if feels that you are going to need.

Google also announced things like workspaces, where you’ll be able to create these little workspaces which are kind of like tags, so you could have files in multiple different folders that you need access to, but you want to kind of bring them together for a particular project, and so, you’re eventually going to be able to create these workspaces. I don’t think it’s launched yet, but a very, very interesting feature that was announced at Google Next.

And then, another one that was announced at Next, which I quite liked and I’m looking forward to seeing, is the ability to create workflows within Google Drive, where you’ll actually have the facility for someone to maybe approve a particular document. So, a perfect example might be a PO, and a PO has to be approved before it can move onto the next step, or expenses. So, a really nice way of creating these simple workflows within Google Drive. And I think again, that’s coming around to Google making Drive very, very useful as a standalone product, and also just making it work harder and more efficiently for its current customer base.

Another feature that I really liked that was launched in Google Drive last year is the Activity dashboard, and the Activity dashboard actually allows you to see whether someone’s viewed a file or a document that you’ve shared, how many times they’ve been in it, and how long they’ve been in it.

Google had been working hard within the Google Drive space to make a lot more integrations with other products. They have made integrations with Box, they’ve made new integrations with Dropbox, in terms of storage and storing Google Documents there, and vice versa. And all those companies are working together more closely, which is great to see for consumers.

And then, the other one is within the Microsoft Office environment, and there’s been a lot of integrations within the Office environment, particularly around Google Drive. Some major ones within the Office and Google Drive integration space is commenting within Google Drive, so you can now comment on Microsoft Office files that are stored in Google Drive.

And also real-time presence, so this is using the Drive File Stream tool, which I’m going to do a separate video on, and the Drive File Stream tool, now that it’s been updated, will actually allow you to see, if you open a Microsoft Office document, if someone else is in that document and editing it. It just makes it much easier for teams now to live in both worlds. And so, you can now see whether someone’s editing a file, and when it’s safe for you to edit that file, and also the ability to merge revisions as well, which is extremely valuable.

My next area is Hangouts and Hangouts Meet, and I think the main area within this is really around the video conferencing. Obviously, Google launched Hangout Chat as well, which is the new chat for Hangouts, and the old version of Hangouts Chat will actually be going away, which was announced quite recently. But I want to focus on the video conferencing side because there was new announcements of hardware, so there is hardware available for larger conference rooms.

Google also doubled the number of attendees or connections that you can have on the Google Hangouts. So for G Suite Business now it’s jumped from 25 to 50 participants, and for G Suite Enterprise customers it’s jumped from 50 to 100. So, I think that’s Google trying to keep up with some of the other video conferencing solutions in the space, which is great.

Another interesting feature is around attachments, where if you’ve attached a document now to a calendar appointment and there is a Hangout Meet on that calendar appointment when you join the meeting the attachment can actually be viewed directly from the Hangout Meet environment, which is fantastic. Again, just making it easier and quicker for people to get on the same page, which is the point of all of these cloud-based products.

And then the last area within Hangouts Meet is interoperability. So, there was an announcement made a company called Pexip, that Google have worked with to create interoperability between Google Meet and other traditional video conferencing solutions. So, you can actually have someone, when you set the system up, you can have someone join a meeting from Skype, and someone join a meeting from Hangout, somebody else could join it from Cisco, or Polycoms, or any of the other traditional video conferencing solutions, and essentially Pexip is acting as the bridge in the middle.

The next area is admin features and security, and I think again, there was a huge amount of updates in this particular area, I’ve narrowed it down to my top four. Number one has to be data location. You can now select which region or area you want your data to be held in, and this is hugely important, particularly for organisations within the EU. Next, we have the alert centre. The alert centre is a really interesting feature that consolidates all of the alerts and notifications within the admin console and allows admins to investigate suspicious emails or activity within their domain.

As a follow on from this, there’s a tool called the security centre, an investigation tool that’s aimed at enterprises, and is actually only available for G Suite Enterprise customers. This is like an upgraded version of the alert centre that gives you a full security centre.

Finally, Google have taken a more proactive response to phishing and malware attacks, and are using, again, some of their machine learning and AI technology to try and help organisations really stem the flood of these type of attacks. And certainly, within the IT industry we’ve seen a lot more of these type of attacks on organisations, and we’ve seen it within our own customer base, where organisations are using social engineering now to make these kind of phishing attempts a lot more difficult to stop.

So, Google have got a lot more proactive on that, and I think that’s a great thing to see. And great just to see so much activity within the security space, that Google are really working hard to continue to increase the security features within G Suite, and continue to maintain it as one of the most secure systems in the world.

So my last one is real-time captions in Google Slides. When you’re doing a presentation in Google Slides you can turn on real-time captioning, and if you’ve got a microphone on your computer it will pick up what you’re saying and put in the captions below the actual slide deck.

So that’s it for me, thanks very much for listening. I hope you enjoyed this update of our G Suite Year in Review 2018. Did you agree with my list, were there some ones that I’ve left out that maybe you would have included? Please let us know in the comments below, and I’ll see you next week.

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