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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Bhupesh Arora, Senior Director of New Technologies for Avery Dennison, a global leader in labeling and packaging materials and solutions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Our founder, Stan Avery, invented the self-adhesive label and launched the modern labeling industry when he started Avery Dennison back in 1935. Seventy-eight years later, Avery Dennison products are all around us, in thousands of consumer and industrial applications. And we’re still innovating. Brand-enhancing labeling solutions, RFID-enabled inventory management systems and wearable medical sensors are just some of the products fueling our innovation pipeline.

It’s not surprising, then, that Avery Dennison was quick to adopt Google Apps for its global workforce. Enabling collaboration to unleash human creativity through fast, simple and robust digital means is a big step in innovation for us. We also expect significant payback in greater productivity and cost savings.

Adopting Google Apps has allowed us to retire costly, less interactive email, intranet and social media platforms and replace them with a single virtual work and collaboration space that’s accessible to our employees anywhere in the world. And Google’s data center and network infrastructure allow us to deliver these services securely and with low latency, regardless of location.

Some of our business leaders were concerned about the size and complexity of such a transformation, and with good reason. Managing this kind of change—asking 19,000 computer-based employees to adopt a whole new set of tools in their daily work habits—turned out to be one of the most important parts of the initiative.

With the help of Tempus Nova, a Google Apps Reseller and our change management partner, we planned carefully, started small, learned at every step, and built scale and momentum over a 9-month period. We cultivated individual employees to become knowledgeable and enthusiastic Google Guides. And we worked closely with individual business divisions as their employees began adopting Google Apps.

It was also a tremendous help to have all our senior leaders become early and visible users of the new tools. Our CIO, Rich Hoffman, was a particularly strong advocate. He championed the initiative from the beginning and immediately incorporated Google Apps into all his personal communications and document-sharing habits. He sent regular emails to the entire company promoting the tools, encouraging employees to explore them and amplifying the excitement that was quick to spread as we rolled out the Google platform around the globe. He knows the benefits of going to the cloud and appreciates how Google has been a full strategic partner throughout the process.

Today, nearly all our computer-enabled employees use Google Apps. It’s early in the experience, but we’re already seeing improvements in productivity and user satisfaction. Our employees were hungry for better communications and collaboration tools and the freedom to use them anywhere at any time. They love the speed and stability of their new Chrome browser, and they’re embracing Google Docs for its real-time editing and collaboration capabilities—and its ability to eliminate unnecessary meetings. And everyone is delighted with the easy, ubiquitous access to people and data made possible by a cloud-based platform. Our senior leadership sees a platform that is actively fostering a new era of innovation at Avery Dennison—one built on unfettered creativity and collaboration.

All in all, adopting Google Apps has been more than a change in technology for Avery Dennison—it’s a key part of a major transformation in the way we work.

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Many of the world’s most successful new companies, from Angry Birds creator Rovio to photo messaging service Snapchat, have built their businesses on Google Cloud Platform. We want developers in the Asia-Pacific region to also experience the speed and scale of Google’s infrastructure, so starting today, we are expanding Google Cloud Platform support to include Asia Pacific zones and adding local language tools.

Google Cloud Platform is a set of compute, storage and big data products that allow developers to build on top of the same infrastructure and technology that powers Google. The expansion means that local developers across Asia Pacific can now experience better performance and lower latency. Developers around the world will also have access to a broader global network of servers.

Japanese game maker Applibot is an early adopter of Cloud Platform in the region and have already used it to build and deploy mobile games globally. With millions of downloads on Google Play and iTunes, the company says Cloud Platform has been critical to their success. Applibot does not need to worry about server maintenance or provisioning new hardware to serve millions of potential users when they ship the latest game. Google Cloud Platform scales smoothly so that the company can focus on what they do best — creating great games.

The expansion of Cloud Platform support to Asia is our latest investment we’re making to help businesses work better with cloud based tools as part of Google’s Enterprise business. In addition to local product availability, the Google Cloud Platform website and the developer console will also be available in Japanese and Traditional Chinese.

Developers interested in learning more about Google Cloud Platform can join one of the Google Cloud Platform Global Roadshow events coming up in Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul or Hong Kong. For more technical details, head over to the Cloud Platform blog.

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Today marks the end of an era for computing, as Windows XP meets its maker. I remember when XP was released in 2001—it seemed like a revolution that introduced computers to a whole new generation. But fast forward 13 years and we live in a very different world—one in which we expect the latest and greatest software, and the ability to access our stuff from anywhere. Even Microsoft admits: it’s time for a change. After all, in 2001, computers looked like this:
In addition to the nearly 30% of desktops still running XP, many businesses are in a tough spot. Despite “significant” security and privacy risks, legacy software or custom-built apps have held businesses back from migrating in time for today’s XP support deadline. Companies in this position now find themselves at a timely crossroads.

It’s time for a real change, rather than more of the same. Chromebooks for Business offers you a secure and easy-to-use computing experience, along with a central web-based management console and lower total cost of ownership. If you’ve been considering Chromebooks for your company, until June 30, we’re sweetening the deal:

  • Buy Chromebooks for Business and get $100 off for each managed device you purchase for your company.
  • If your employees need to access desktop apps, we’ve partnered with Citrix and VMware to bring two offers:
    1. Get $200 off Chromebooks for Business with VMware Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
    2. Get Chromebooks for Business and 25% off Citrix XenApp Platinum Edition, which includes AppDNA software for accelerating Windows XP migration.
Last year, Forrester urged businesses to consider Chromebooks. Here are some reasons why even organizations that rely on desktop applications should consider a switch now:

  • Run your favorite work apps — yes, even offline: With more adoption of business web apps, companies are making the switch from Windows XP to Chromebooks. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides work online or offline. Quickoffice is built into every Chromebook and Cisco is bringing WebEx to Chromebooks soon.
  • Access traditional desktops and software, too: Customers, like Woolworths, access Windows applications in a virtual environment through providers like Citrix, VMware and others.
  • Power your kiosks: Use Chrome OS’s Kiosk mode to power your customer kiosks, shared employee terminals, or sales dashboard — like Dillard’s, which relies on Managed Public Sessions to help employees access their corporate email and important internal systems.
  • Certified for schools: For education, Chromebooks are verified to meet Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessment requirements with software from AIR and Pearson Testnav8. According to NPD, Chromebooks made up 21% of U.S. commercial laptop sales in 2013.

For more details about how to upgrade your IT solution, please visit our website. Don’t let your business go the way of tamagotchis and parachute pants. It’s time for a real change — something we can all agree upon.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Richard Wells, Head of Information Technology at Glyndebourne, a 1,200-seat opera house set in the grounds of a country house in East Sussex, England. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.


English opera company Glyndebourne started out in 1934 as an intimate gathering for opera enthusiasts at the founders’ home. Today it’s a 1,200-seat opera house located in the grounds of a 600-year-old manor in the English countryside. We put on about 120 performances a year, including the annual Glyndebourne Festival in the summer and our traditional Autumn tour, which takes us to cities around England.

Before going Google last autumn, we relied on a traditional Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange infrastructure. This setup required dedicated Windows computers to access all our files on various hard drives and servers, sometimes through complex remote connection processes. It was difficult, stage hands could not always access their email, schedules or documents and often had to use pen and paper to create notes after performance.

Google Apps has changed the way we work since employees can now access their work directly from their mobiles. Our House Manager previously had to email the ushers’ schedule to their personal email accounts. It was a tedious process. Now, all our ushers have their own Google accounts and we can share one roster as a Google Sheet and collaborate in one file.

Google Apps also helps those of us in headquarters be more efficient and resourceful. Each month our general director posts a popular news bulletin online. It’s lighthearted and informative, and great reading material for a coffee break - this meant many people printed it out to read, like a magazine. Now that we have gone Google we simply pop it up on our mobile devices any place, any time with the added financial benefit of paper and ink savings.

With the move to Google our IT staff were excited to be able to stop maintaining the on-premise email system, particularly as our company grew. We have nearly doubled our computer users to 200 in the last few years, while our IT resources stayed the same. As a result, we spent three full days a month maintaining Microsoft applications, updating software and troubleshooting remote employee issues. With Google Apps we now spend a fraction of that time on support and troubleshooting.

Under the old system we were running out of storage fast, including storage for our performance videos and sheet music. You can imagine how thrilled we were to learn that a single suite of products -- Google Apps for Business -- could resolve all of our problems around hosting, mobility and collaboration. With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise partner, we quickly deployed and migrated all our computer users to the new ecosystem. We now store just under 500 GB of digital performance material online with Google using Google Drive.

With Google giving us email, collaboration, business workflows and our storage needs in the cloud, the IT department has far fewer worries. Staff now spend their time on more meaningful jobs like creating high-quality recordings of our performances and improving our digital presences such as the Glyndebourne YouTube channel. Employees have seen an increase in their ability to focus on our core objective: creating world-class opera. Google Apps helps us bridge the creative and operational sides of the company. This allows us to work from anywhere, anytime so the show goes off without a hitch every night.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Rupert Hay-Campbell, information/communications technology and information governance officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a community in East London with 180,000 residents. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we're dealing with a classic government challenge: the need to provide great technology for our 3,500 local council employees in a climate of severe budget austerity. In the middle of 2013 we turned our attention to upgrading our IT platform in preparation for the Windows XP end of life in April 2014.

We knew we had to either upgrade our 3,500 desktop computers and 800 laptops or find new ways to give employees access to our council systems, and preferably on devices that didn’t need to be constantly upgraded or managed by our IT staff. Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ticked all of these boxes – and more.

We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now. They’ll be more mobile, working from home or from various council offices, so they’ll rely on laptops. The applications they’ll use will be web-based, so a device built around a browser makes sense. At the same time, we must also manage council information in strict compliance with UK government security regulations.

Once CESG, the UK government agency responsible for IT security, developed security standards for councils using the Chrome operating system, we started switching out XP desktops and laptops with 2,000 Chromebooks for employees and 500 Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared works areas.

With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise Partner, and Elevate East London, the council’s joint venture IT outsourcing partner, we're currently rolling out an initial 1,500 Chromebooks. Our partners helped us provide access to council applications via a Citrix virtual desktop, but we’ll gradually move new apps to the Chrome browser.

When we finish deploying Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in early summer, we’ll have 1,000 fewer devices to manage compared to our stock of Windows XP devices. Most employees will only have a Chromebook, instead of both a desktop and a laptop.

Not only does this help employees bring their work anywhere, it also saves us £200,000 compared with the cost of deploying new Windows desktops, and we’ve estimated a further £200,000 saving on electricity costs with the more energy-efficient ChromeOS devices. And since employees can work anywhere, we’ll be able to make substantial savings on more efficient use of some council buildings and offices. Spending less money on more secure, worker-friendly and flexible technology is helping us at the council deal with the challenge of austerity cuts - and, of course, plan better for the future of our community.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Joshua Moxon, marketing director for Prima Supply, a family-owned restaurant supply company based in Louisville, Kentucky. See what other organizations that use Google Search Appliance have to say.

Customers shopping online at Prima Supply – usually small business owners looking for great deals on restaurant and food service equipment – know what they want, and they’re price-conscious. To help them make choices, our goal is to provide accurate product information, including specifications and availability, and deliver it as quickly as possible. Google Search Appliance (GSA) has met our need for speed, and for better control over adding content to search.

In the past, our search product, Amazon Cloud Search, stymied our goals for fast results and helpful content. Visitors to our site had to wait as long as 15 seconds for results, especially if they used refinements for pricing, since that information wasn’t cached. Our bounce rate was higher than normal, which meant that shoppers were leaving our site because they didn’t want to wait around for results.

It wasn’t just customers that were unhappy. We weren’t pleased with our lack of ability to add synonyms or include misspellings, which would have improved our search accuracy. We’d have to bring in IT help if we wanted to add content to search or if we wanted to fine-tune results – for example, promoting certain products or brands within search results. Using outside help took extra time, which meant we couldn’t be agile in responding to customers.

We didn’t have to look hard for a new search product – GSA was the only one we considered. We knew that nobody does search like Google, and we wanted the same fast, easy search for our site that we get when we go to Google.com. Instead of bringing in a software developer when we needed to add synonyms or create landing pages for products or brands, GSA helps us do this work ourselves, with no delays or extra costs.

Three-compartment stainless steel sinks are a popular item on the Prima Supply website, and customers searching for a specific brand might not realize that there are other options from different manufacturers. Using Searchandiser, a third party tool powered by the GSA, we can build out webpages with similar products, at all price points, that show up whenever a customer does a relevant search.

Search times have been reduced and slowdowns have become a thing of the past. In our business, search that’s fast and on-target has a direct impact on customer loyalty. That means GSA will help keep our customers finding and buying products they need, and associating Prima Supply with easy searching and fast service.

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Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Carolyn Cheng, SVP of Strategic Services for Royal LePage, a Google Enterprise customer.

How did you first get involved in technology?
I’d say that technology found me. I began my professional life as a management consultant in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting, then joined the growth strategy group at Brookfield Real Estate Services to help drive new business opportunities. After a strong growth period for the company, each person from the team took on a strategic role in one of the operating companies - and I joined Royal LePage. I was brought on to develop new products and services for the network of agents (now more than 15,000), and since they’re distributed so widely across North America, many of those products and services had to be delivered over the web. And thus began my journey into the world of technology.

Have any mentors or communities been especially instrumental to your interest and success in tech?
The Royal LePage culture has played a huge role in driving and developing my career in tech. When I started at the company, the CIO and half of our senior executives were women, so having those positive examples was inspiring. Our culture is also very entrepreneurial, driven in particular by our President, who ensures that employees who show enthusiasm, curiosity and capability are given opportunities to pursue new ideas - even if they’re outside their defined job role. I wasn’t a technologist by trade, for example, but once I’d established my capabilities and strengths, I was given new opportunities that happened to intersect with technology. In general, I think the inquisitive, analytical problem solving skills that are the backbone of strategy are well aligned with developing and delivering services through technology.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
For one, it’s now much easier and faster to implement technology projects. A decade ago, we often built our own custom solutions in-house, which meant building the software, installing the hardware and learning by trial and error along the way. These were greater stress-induced days, to say the least. Today, third-party solutions in real estate are far more mature and require much more straightforward configuration. And when we choose to build custom, differentiated solutions, we partner with experienced vendors, use an agile process supported with documentation and, most often, ensure those solutions are cloud-based. On the whole, projects deliver in almost half the time, at a lower cost and with a far higher quality product.

What advice do you have for women interested or working in tech today?
Technology is such an integral part of the fabric of how work gets done that I think it’s critical for all women to learn about it one way or another. There’s no role that doesn’t touch technology somehow: sales people need CRMs, marketers have to be conversant in SEO, SEM and social media, finance relies on tech-based tools to deliver business intelligence. The choice revolves more around where you want to sit on the spectrum of technology - on one end, purely as an end user, or on the other, as a more technical creator or implementer. But the more you know about technology, the more opportunities you open up for yourself.

So, if I had one piece of advice, it’s to learn about technology from a young age, then decide what interests you most and go after it. Technology has a much broader definition and is more accessible than ever before. And from what I’ve experienced myself, women in technology are often very grounded, extraordinarily passionate and want to achieve great things, so you’ll be in good company.

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Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Kelly Campbell, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Google.

How did you get into technology?
I entered the world of technology when I joined Google in 2005 after getting my MBA. I’d worked in Finance earlier in my career and did an internship as a brand manager at a large CPG company, but both had left me wanting more. In my second year of business school, a handful of companies from various industries came to campus to talk about potential job opportunities. I popped into my first tech session, with Amazon, and was blown away. There was so much energy and excitement around what they were doing and where the tech industry was going that just didn’t exist in the other sessions. Then Google visited, and I was hooked. I joined the company after graduation and haven’t looked back since. In this industry, you have to constantly challenge the status quo and think about the future first. I love the pace, energy, challenges and vast opportunity.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
Since I joined Google, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people work and the way people learn.

When I started, most people used devices and apps in their home life that they loved, while they were stuck with slow, heavy enterprise software and devices at work. Working from home, on the road or from a remote office meant feeling disconnected and operating in isolation. Now, with the incredible growth in the mobile space and the development of smartphones and tablets, people can use whichever devices they want to work with and work from wherever they need to be. You don’t have to be in the same place to feel like you’re working side by side with someone. You’re seeing their face over a video conference or collaborating on a document at the same exact time, watching as the words they type appear right on the screen in front of you.

On the learning front, if you look at a classroom today and compare it with eight years ago, the landscape has changed exponentially. Students are relying more on technology to learn, and education content and devices are opening new opportunities for teaching all over the world.

What advice do you have for other women interested in technology?
I’m one of four girls in my family, and my father always taught me the importance of having thick skin. I definitely think this applies to anyone working in the technology space. Decisions are made quickly. Change happens often. It’s important to be open to all perspectives and to be ready to push hard for what you really believe in.

How did starting a family affect your ability to continue to move fast at work in the tech space?
It was incredibly hard to take that first step away from work, and then to come back five months later and acknowledge how much I’d missed. But becoming a mother has also helped me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. First, it helped me put things in perspective. It’s incredibly inspiring to look at my child and think about all of the possibilities that technology will enable for him. Second, I increased my productivity quite a bit when I had a child. It’s important to me to be fully present whether I’m with family or colleagues. To strike this balance, I need to draw clear lines between work time and family time.

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Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Tonya Peer, VP of IT Shared Services for Office Depot, a Google Enterprise customer.

How did you first get involved in technology?
I noticed early on that I really liked computers and I loved problem solving. I got into computers, thought I’d take a few classes, and did really well — I was at the top of my class. I went into the computer science field because I thought it was even more challenging than some of the other careers I was considering. It’s definitely an ongoing challenge, but that’s what I love about it. I’m always learning.

What are some of biggest changes you’ve seen in tech?
When I first started in tech, I was working on a huge IBM mainframe. Over time, I saw the move from mainframe to client server, client server to web, web to mobile. Technology has evolved to be much more user friendly and much more user-empowering. It’s amazing to see the shift to cloud-based technologies and the impact it has had on the industry.

Another big shift has come from the Internet — the ability to search for anything you need and the ability to get an answer to any question that you have. The fact that you can do that just with your computer, your tablet or your phone didn’t exist when I first started in tech. It’s such a sweeping change.

What advice do you for for other women interested in technology?
Make sure you go after a career that gets you excited when you wake up in the morning. Always remember to do the best you can to satisfy your customers, because ultimately, that’s the purpose of technology — to make end users happy. And don’t forget to speak your mind. Step out. Say what you think. Have an opinion. Be present.

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(Cross-posted on the Drive Blog.)

Google Slides and Drawings make it easy for you to tell a story and share your ideas. And a big part of storytelling is the images you use to bring a concept to life. Now it’s even easier to get those images just right, because Slides will let you crop, apply shape masks, and add borders to your images right within your presentation.

Cropping
To crop an image, select it and click on the crop image icon in the toolbar.
Then drag the corners to your desired crop size and hit enter to make the crop.
Applying masks
To crop your image to a particular shape, apply a mask from the pull-down menu next to the crop icon.
There are tons of shapes, arrows and callout designs to choose from, like the diamond example below.
Adding borders
Add a border to your image by clicking on the line weight icon, and give it a little extra pop by changing the line color.
Look out for image editing in Slides and Drawings over the next couple of hours. Here’s to more beautiful presentations and drawings!