Though it was actually first launched back in 1998, to most of us, Google still feels like a new presence in our lives. But it’s no longer a simple web browser and its many innovative products and platforms have taken over in a bewildering variety of ways. We send messages by Gmail, check out the roof of our house on Google Earth, translate articles, do marketing with Adwords, watch videos on YouTube and communicate with our co-workers on Hangouts – we even use Google as an active and passive verb. In short, Google is everywhere and links people and technology in a way few people would have envisioned just a few years ago.
And since 2006, as people have embraced cloud computing, Google has moved into our offices and workspaces with Google Apps for Work, the company’s answer to Office 365. The apps and software are particularly popular with smaller businesses, for a variety of reasons. People find Google Apps for intuitive, and easy to use, even if they’ve spent their whole lives using Microsoft’s Office suite. Office managers tend to love the effortless mobility and the ability to add new services to the Google suite, as and when they are needed.
This approach to how companies start integrating Google Apps, is backed by data from BetterCloud, a company that helps businesses manage their Google Apps environment. They surveyed their clients and found that most were initially just looking to make use of Gmail and the Google Calendar, but as time goes on, they ended up making use or more and more services and paying for full access for all their staff.
Workspaces can only benefit when they fully take advantage of the cloud’s ability to let you communicate and collaborate and this, combined with the fact that so many people are already familiar with office apps means there is no steep learning curve when Google cloud technology is adopted. Here at Damson Cloud, we are a growing business ourselves and we’ve found that Google Apps for Work has allowed us to be much more productive and work more easily with staff out of the office.
So let’s look at some of the services offered as well as the benefits to your staff when you use Google Apps.
Google Apps also has the advantage of being incredibly easy to setup and use. Sign Up can take a few seconds and you’re then given instant access to an administration console that gives you options about users, your company profile, billing, reports, your device management security and support. You can then easily add your users and specify exactly what apps they’ll have access too. The mobile device management allows you to then manage passwords, sync devices, configure your wi-fi etc.
Gmail keeps you connected
Email is essential to any business communications strategy and is at the heart of the Google Apps platform. Best of all, it seems geared to how modern companies actually do business. As it is a cloud based internet system, it doesn’t need to be downloaded or synced to different devices. And as you get a large amount of storage per user (30 GB), there’s no need to worry about deleting old mails. Another benefit is that conversations are threaded, so that you can easily group messages on the same topics in one place, so tracking communication with clients is easy. The hangouts feature allows you to talk to people live, and these chats too are all saved – which is great when you need to remember facts or back up verbal agreements.
Documents made to share
It is in Google Drive where most of the main work will be done if you’re using the platform for your business. As well as documents (Google Docs), it’s possible to create spreadsheets (Google Sheets) and presentations similar to powerpoint (Google Slides). If office staff are used to Microsoft Office, they will find the interface less cluttered and they will appreciate the online storage and collaboration options.
Collaboration and compatibility
Google Apps for Work has very much been built around online collaboration and this is the area where it can really benefit businesses large and small. With one or two clicks you can share work with anyone who has the right link, collaboratively edit in realtime, and make comments on work. Even non-Google documents can be brought into apps for work so people can collaborate on them.
Of course, all the main features of Google Apps can be found in Office 365, in one form or another, but it’s how they integrate with each other so well that makes Google Apps so attractive to businesses. Appointments, document, spreadsheets can all be shared via email and chat, and your Gmail inbox, with its embeddable widgets, chat and notifications, can become a hub of worker predictability. By embracing Google Apps, you are looking to the future and using tools that are available on the public internet, rather than relying on legacy systems that need constant maintenance and physical upgrades.
The Google Apps Marketplace means third party developers of services can now make business web apps that integrate with Google and sell them direct to Google Apps users. There are already some big names such as Intuit, Zoho, and Aviary with many more offering tailored solutions to meet a range of business needs.
One of the biggest advantages Google Apps tends to have over the main rival, Office 365 is in the pricing. Not that it’s really very much cheaper, it’s just so much simpler to understand. The basic product is £3.30 per user per month, while the Premium version is £6.60 per user per month, while educational establishments get a version for free. This is just so much easier to deal with than the many different packages and prices offered by Office. And of course, if you’re only using Gmail, Docs and Sheets, for fewer than five workers, you don’t have to pay anyway, which makes it great for companies on a tight budget. The basic pay-version gives you the advantage of more storage (30GB per user or unlimited at Premium) and administration tools, as well as the chance to use your own domain name for your emails.
If you think that your business would benefit from a cloud-based and collaborative productivity platform, then Google Apps may be your answer. Come talk to the team at Damson Cloud and we can help you put a solution in place.