Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Derek Kruse, CIO of the Douglas Omaha Technology Commission (DOTComm), which provides municipal technical services to the City of Omaha and Douglas County, Nebraska. Be sure to join Innovation for the Nation, a virtual summit featuring government customers, streaming live on July 31st and August 1st. And see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Derek Kruse, CIO
The City of Omaha and Douglas County have something many municipalities lack, a collaborative relationship. With Omaha located within Douglas County, we are fortunate to live in a community that values working together to solve complex challenges. Our cooperation has led to many innovative solutions, including the formation of the Douglas Omaha Technology Commission (DOTComm). Another example of this collaborative spirit is our decision to upgrade our email and calendaring platform. In order to improve government productivity and efficiency, DOTComm has been tasked with moving approximately 5,000 city and county employees in more than 70 departments to Google Apps for Government.

In May, after a thorough and exhaustive evaluation process, the DOT.Comm Oversight Committee approved the proposal to implement Google Apps for Government. The decision was endorsed by the Mayor and also unanimously approved by both the City Council and the County Board of Commissioners. We decided to go with Google Apps because it not only meets our current needs, but it offers new collaboration features at a fraction of the cost it would take to upgrade our existing system. We chose SADA Systems, a Google Apps Premier Enterprise Reseller, to help with this transition and serve as our deployment partner. It is obvious that SADA’s focus on training and ensuring a smooth migration will enable us to quickly and easily adopt Google Apps.

Moving to Google Apps will provide tremendous benefits. Our current system is more than 10 years old and lacks any modern features. Employees struggle to access information on their mobile devices and people spend valuable time deleting emails because our mailboxes do not have enough space. Given the age of our system, we have seen a steep increase in outages as well. That will all change when we move to Google Apps for Government. We will offer a more secure, stable, modern and scalable cloud solution to the City and County. Employees will now be able to communicate instantly and work collaboratively online, even if they are miles apart. Mailbox size alone has people cheering -- one of our employees made the comparison that we will be moving from a shot glass to a swimming pool!

We started out this process to fix our aged email system. We have discovered this is much more than a fix -- this is the future -- and another big step in the ongoing collaboration between Omaha and Douglas County. The next few months will be very exciting as we implement Google Apps and we are very thrilled to be rolling up our sleeves once again to improve our community together.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Gary Bateman, CIO for the Iowa Workforce Development. Be sure to join Innovation for the Nation, a virtual summit featuring government customers, streaming live on July 31st and August 1st. And see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

In Iowa, our mission at Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) is to provide a comprehensive statewide system of employment services, education and regulations to ensure the economic security of Iowa’s workers, businesses and communities. An important part of our effort is to identify and prevent unemployment insurance fraud. Our efforts have cut the rate of fraud to less than 6%, but we are not satisfied to stop there.

Detecting and preventing unemployment insurance fraud is challenging because of the high volume of claims we receive. Often times, we’re not able to detect the discrepancy until after multiple payments have been made. This lag means the bad actors can take the money and move on, making it difficult and expensive to recover the payment. We went looking for technologies to provide an even better rate of fraud detection, allowing us to act faster to prevent this criminal activity and save the state money.

After a competitive bid process, we selected Fraud Detection as a Service (FDaaS) by Pondera Solutions, a Google Enterprise Partner, to help us identify and prevent improper payments. FDaaS is a Google-powered solution that uses Google Prediction API, Google Maps, Google Street View and Google Earth.

With FDaaS, suspicious claims are proactively flagged by the system, which alerts IWD employees about potentially fraudulent claims. The claims are plotted on a heatmap built on Google Maps to identify areas with the highest fraud incidents and determine where to put more investigative resources. We also use Google Street View to check the validity of businesses that submit claims. All of these data points are compiled into a custom, configured dashboard that helps us quickly examine claimants and employers to validate whether these claims are valid. This dashboard will replace many of our manual processes of checking disparate databases. And because Google helps to integrate relevant market data into our validation processes, we can parse massive amounts of data quickly and efficiently, allowing us to identify advanced schemes and rapidly respond to potential issues. With all this information available at our fingertips, we can then examine claimants and employers to validate whether these claims are proper much more efficiently.

Using the new solution, IWD will improve accuracies in Unemployment Insurance, benefiting both the employers and citizens of Iowa. Our continuing efforts will help assure that the vast majority of unemployment insurance benefits are delivered to the citizens who need and deserve our assistance.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Dietmar Böhm, CIO of Nobel Biocare, a leader in innovative, restorative and aesthetic dental solutions, headquartered in Switzerland. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Nobel Biocare was founded in 1981 in Göteborg, Sweden as Bofors Nobelpharma and we now have 2,500 employees in more than 40 countries. Our focus has always been on scientific innovation and developing safe and effective solutions to restore and improve our patient’s smiles. In order to provide the best dental care for our patients it’s important that our team is working together across all of our office locations.

In the healthcare industry, the privacy of our patients is extremely important. We wanted to give our employees the flexibility and mobility to work together while determining the best options for their patients, while still maintaining our data security and reducing our IT costs. As a company we had been using Lotus Notes, but I had personally been using Google Apps at work for over a year. I felt that by moving to the cloud, we would improve our ability to work together internally and with our suppliers, and offer our employees the most innovative technology available.

We believe that in order to attract the best talent and to retain the talent we have, it’s vital to provide the best technology that allows people to work together from anywhere. Today, many employees already know products such as Gmail, Google Drive or Google Calendar from using them in their personal lives. By using Google Apps for Business, we’re giving our employees the tools they’re used to and also building the foundation for years to come.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Tony Matheson, Manager Distribution Network IT Program for CitiPower and Powercor, electricity distributors whose core business is to deliver electricity to homes and businesses in Melbourne and throughout central and western Victoria. See what other organisations that have gone Google have to say.

As an electricity distributor, our primary job is managing assets such as poles, wires, and other equipment with a focus on safety, reliability, and cost effectiveness for 1.1 million customers, 80,000 kilometers of power lines, and more than half a million power poles. Every fault or outage must be managed, corrected and restored as quickly as possible, and risks to community power supplies caused by major events such as floods and bushfires must be avoided or mitigated swiftly.

With power distribution equipment spread across a wide area, we need to see the geographic locations of assets like poles, power transformers, switchgear, and so on, along with photos, maintenance, and planning information from our other enterprise systems. Yet we couldn’t overlay our data or put it into the context of an outage or other incident that might be happening in real time. The incumbent geographic information system requires specialised training to use and serves more specific functions. We needed something simple and effective to be able to overlay information from a variety of third-party sources including real-time emergency services information, as well as add further value and usefulness to data housed within our existing SAP Enterprise Asset Management software and Data Warehouse.

After considering several options, we chose Google Earth Enterprise because it would offer powerful 3D visualisation technology that would be intuitive to use for everyone in the company, without training. We used the Google Earth API to customize our own view of the virtual globe to meet our exact business requirements. Our virtual globe is now housed onsite on a server behind our company firewall.

Google Earth Enterprise allows us to create maps depending on the need, share them with others, and reach remote workers, so everyone has a consistent and familiar experience wherever they are. Google Earth Enterprise is so innovative and flexible that we can develop iteratively, with agility, and at a very low cost. We often can add a new layer to meet an immediate business need on the same day it is requested.

Today, we are delivering better, faster service to customers and driving business efficiencies. Situations can be analysed and acted upon with speed and accuracy. Google Earth Enterprise has helped us become far more innovative and agile. The investment required was low, and the benefits were immediate.


System Administrators’ responsibilities can’t be captured in a simple job description. They vary from company to company and even within organizations, but one thing is constant: systems administrators are the people who do what it takes to keep companies running. After more than 25 years in IT, I’ve worked with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of systems administrators and on this SysAdmin Day, I want to thank you for all that you do.

Thank you for being the ones behind the scenes who make sure things “just work.” For coming in on holidays and in the middle of the night to do an upgrade or fix a server issue. For answering all of our questions, no matter how challenging or strange. For hours spent fixing the simplest email support issue to monitoring servers during a hurricane. I actually think that it’s what we don’t know about that deserves the most thanks. All too often, users don’t understand the amazing efforts that go into making things “just work”: physical plant, hardware, storage, networking, security, backup, disaster recovery, configuration, upgrades, patches... and it’s all only really successful if users only have to think about their own work.

What we do in IT has evolved over the years, (hey, that’s a big part of why we’re here, right?), but your role has only gotten more demanding. I’ve worked in technology since I was in high school; in my earliest days, the hardest problems might have been helping researchers convert their data from one tape format to another, which seemed equal parts engineering and magic. I remember another time, someone had a program that made a washing machine-sized disk drive vibrate across the machine room. It took us a while to figure that one out. And back then, before the Internet, a break-in meant the intruder was in one of our computing centers, and we’d have to send the most intimidating-looking system administrators to guard the door until the police came.

I know the role has changed, and the challenges many of you face are much more complicated than they used to be. We thought the best way to say thanks would be to hear directly from you. Earlier this week we asked you to share some of the most far-fetched requests you’ve received from colleagues. The stories shared made us laugh, and reminded us how much hard work you do. If we don’t say it enough, thank you again for everything you do.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Sharon Levin, Knowledge Base Manager at Radware, an international application delivery and security applications provider for virtual and cloud data centers, headquartered in Israel. The company has 10,000 customers across the world. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Radware, we help over 10,000 companies around the world assess and manage everything from Business Intelligence to Customer Relationship Management to Enterprise Resource Planning. Our customers use our tools as a core part of their strategy for adapting to market challenges, maintaining business continuity and keeping costs down. But navigating these complex products requires our help and support. So we offer a database of over 2,000 Q&As, known as Knowledge Base, to assist in solving different problems, along with telephone and online support.

Until recently, it was a slow process for customers to find what they were looking for in this vast pool of data. If they didn’t type the exact phrase that was listed in the Knowledge Base database, the necessary results would not always appear. We also struggled internally to navigate the search options. Even in my role as Knowledge Base Manager, I sometimes found it quicker to use Google’s regular web search than our own database.

When looking at alternatives, we were blown away by the accuracy and speed of Google’s enterprise search technology, the Google Search Appliance. DoIT International helped us to set up the GSA and now the results of all searches are 400% to 800% faster than before. All results appear in less than a second, compared to the response time of at least 4 seconds with our previous technology. In 70% of the searches, no further queries are performed and there are no 'next page' clicks, so we know people are finding what they need at the top of the page.

We’re confident that our customers are getting the help and support they need in the timeframe they expect. What’s more, we’re using GSA’s analytics to build out our database. If we spot lots of customers searching for the same thing, we add a new result or ‘how to’ guide or use the feedback to identify and address an issue before it has even been officially logged. All thanks to the speed, accuracy and ease of use of the GSA.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is TWS Partnership’s Chief Information Officer, George Garcia, who deployed Chromeboxes at Polaroid Fotobar stores. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At the Polaroid Fotobar in Delray Beach, Florida, we help visitors create beautiful physical artwork from their digital pictures. When customers visit the store, they can use our Chromebox kiosks and web-based photo editor to add effects and print their photos on lucite, metal, acrylic, bamboo, or other creative materials.
We just opened our second store at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and are opening several other locations this year. For our photo kiosks, we wanted technology that delivers both a great customer experience and was simple to manage, so we could grow quickly.

Customers like using Chromebox kiosks - they resume instantly, are lightning-fast at handling web apps and basically crash-free. Our business colleagues are happy because the Chromebox is a fraction of the cost of other options we considered. And, as the tech team that has to make everything work, we’re thrilled with how the Chromebox is performing.

We’re using the managed public sessions feature, available in the Chrome Management Console, to create a custom Fotobar kiosk experience for customers, including setting a branded home screen, adding photo editing apps and photo sources, and blocking sites we don’t want customers visiting. The public sessions feature also wipes any customer data at the end of each browsing session, so each user is starting fresh.

Since all the operating system updates are automatic and the devices have built-in virus protection, we can spend less time maintaining devices and more time on our expansion plans. We look forward to bringing the fun of our Polaroid Fotobar service to more people around the world soon.


(Cross-posted on the Google Chrome Blog)

Have you ever needed to print a boarding pass, whitepaper, or speech, and didn't have your computer at hand? Google Cloud Print helps you print from anywhere to anywhere using any device, and we’ve recently made several improvements on that front.

First, if you have an Android smartphone or tablet, we've released the Cloud Print app in Google Play to make it easier to print documents and files on the go.

Second, if you work out of different offices or other public spaces like a school, you can now easily share a printer with anyone nearby, by simply publishing a link.
In addition, we’re releasing two new tools today to make it even easier to print anywhere, anytime. The first, Google Cloud Printer, makes it possible to print to any of your cloud printers from Windows applications such as Adobe Reader.
The second, Google Cloud Print Service, runs as a Windows service so administrators can easily connect existing printers to Google Cloud Print in their businesses and schools.

We’ll continue evolving Google Cloud Print to make printing simple and easy from as many devices as possible. For now, the future looks good on paper.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Kirk Suscella from Florida Power & Light. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At FPL, we understand how much our customers depend on electricity. When they flip the
switch, they expect the lights to come on. We agree. That’s why we’re continuously investing
time and resources to improve the service we provide to our 4.6 million residential and business

Google Enterprise gives us the tools that let us easily use more than 100 data sets of
information about the area we serve – that’s more than 1 million data points. With these tools,
we can better locate property lines, our trucks and equipment, customer locations, and even
eagle nests and conservation areas - all important information when investigating issues or
planning work.

With Google Maps, we have a single, visual interface to determine the smartest and most
efficient way to restore and improve service to our customers. For example, our Restoration
Spatial View, is a powerful Google Maps-based tool that allows us to monitor severe weather,
pending customer requests, crew locations as well as the power our system is providing and
which customers are without power. The information is plotted on a map so we can quickly
identify and fix problems as they arise.

Each restoration crew has a laptop in its truck to allow them to quickly access this data and
locate problems. Earlier this year, we expanded our restoration crews’ access by equipping
them with “smart tablets” to use even when they are outside of the trucks. We achieved our best
reliability performance on record in 2012, and we expect technology tools like those provided by
Google to help drive continued service improvements for the benefit of our customers.
Our employees aren’t the only ones who have information about outages. FPL Power Tracker
is a web-based tool that uses the Google Maps API to let customers search and report outages
also. They can see details about outages affecting any of our customers, including when they
were reported, what caused them and when power is expected to be restored.

During hurricanes or severe storms, we switch the Power Tracker into “Storm Mode” and
show broader county-by-county power outage numbers. We also show estimated restoration
times so residents who have evacuated an area know when they can return home, and those
who weathered the storm know when their power will be restored.

When the power goes out, customers want to know why, and our crews and technicians need to
know the nature of the problem and its precise location in order to fix it. While storms in Florida
may be severe, FPL has equally powerful tools to help us withstand them and keep our
customers’ lights on.


Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected. Our guest blogger is Greg Wade, Director Information Systems at SL Power Electronics, a supplier of high-reliability power conversion products and the largest subsidiary of SL Industries. Watch our manufacturing webinar and see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At SL Industries, we design and manufacture specialty electronics that help our customers increase performance, safety and efficiency. We value these three principles in our internal operations, as well. In fact, we have an executive position devoted to lean operations. We also have a handful of employees, known as “lean champions,” who are committed to finding ways to cut waste and make our processes run smoother.

In 2011, we realized the need to improve efficiency within our own IT environment. We had been running Lotus Notes since 1998, and while it worked well for email, we didn’t have tools to help employees, groups or divisions work with one another. Our biggest obstacle, however, was mobility. Lotus Notes didn't support a complete mobile solution and our Blackberry Enterprise Server was not meeting the needs of our employees who desperately wanted to use other smart phones.

We decided to evaluate Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 and LotusLive to get us up-to-date. Google Apps scored highest in our evaluation, offering the most mature platform with the most tools, and saving 20 to 45 percent over the other solutions in our cost models. We switched in September of 2011 with the help of Google Apps Reseller, SADA Systems.

Google Apps has made collaboration and efficiency top of mind. Our VP of Operational Excellence created a Google Site so he could collaborate with the “lean champions” throughout the company to communicate scorecards to each factory, providing lean training materials for everyone. This has been an internal breakthrough since now all of our employees can easily locate and digest this information.

The executive team uses Google Docs to manage the executive agenda and track weekly financial metrics, including backlogs, bookings and forecasts, and now everyone is looking at the same data during meetings. Before, we used Microsoft Excel and saved it on a file server, which led to all sorts of problems with version control that left people with out-of-date data.

By moving to the Google tools we really understand how much our previous technology environment was holding us back in our mission to “go lean.” Our old products were outdated and bulky. It took moving to tools such as Google Sites, Google Drive and Google Talk for us to realize that. Our “lean champions” are pretty proud.


Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected. Today's guest blogger is Steve Koets, Global Director of Business Development for Pridgeon and Clay. Watch our manufacturing webinar and see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At first glance, our business seems pretty simple: we make metal parts for the automotive sector. However, the processes involved in making those parts is anything but simple. The coordination and logistics to supply parts to a supply chain that make the parts to almost every car manufacturer in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe requires more than 120 metal stamping presses around the world. In addition, we buy, ship, and process raw materials, coordinate delivery of our products, and manage our global sales teams. With all of these moving parts, we needed a business analytic solution that could help us understand all of these processes as it relates to our need to make good business decisions.

Google Earth Pro gives us the visibility into our product, production and sales processes that we need to make sure we’re operating efficiently. With Google Earth Pro, we use layered views to show us where our component parts are selling, what cars our parts end up in (by tracking the part through production and into the actual cars on the roads), and the distribution of those parts in the various markets. Earth Pro helps us distill and understand our millions of data points, making it easier for our teams to analyze and make smart choices on a variety of topics.
Google Earth Pro allows us to manage our financial forecasting by area and helps in our business plan and goal setting. When the automotive market was struggling in 2008, or when the Tsunami hit in 2011, several of our suppliers and customers started to halt production at their factories. Since we had an accurate understanding of our integration of the supply chain and sales via Earth Pro, we were able to adjust our production patterns and weather the loss and change in our business. Earth Pro gave us insight as to the scale of events unfolding in the world and helped us make better decisions.

When selecting new potential plant locations, Google Earth Pro helps us to find the best place to optimize and make the right decisions. For example, we are currently looking to place an additional plant in the future in Mexico. By combining layers with the location of metal suppliers, customers, potential customers, and other market data (such as population density for possible employees), we figured out where we should place our factory to make our procurements, shipping, and business costs more effective. By scaling this practice to all our plants around the world, Google Earth Pro has helped us to be competitive and in the right place at the right time.

Google Earth Pro allows us to touch our data every day, tweak it to fit our needs, and visualize relevant information to help us make informed decisions. And it’s simple – anyone with a browser can use it. On a quick virtual meeting with our business units in Europe, we installed Earth Pro and they were placing their first pushpins in minutes to show the locations of their local facilities and relationships. Now, we have hundreds of thousands of pushpins used globally on all types of data, and hundreds of layers for every aspect of our business. Google Earth helps turn our heavy business lighter – with all of our data at our fingertips.


Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google technology to work better and stay connected. Today we'll hear from Mike Ellerton, Head of Service and Infrastructure at Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food manufacturer. Watch our manufacturing webinar and see what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

In a traditional industry like manufacturing, it’s tough for big companies to be innovative. With more than 35 locations and annual revenue of around £1.5 billion, Premier Foods is amongst the UK’s largest food manufacturers. We recognise the need for constant innovation agility and collaboration. Moving to Google Apps did exactly this for us, as you can see from our Story Builder. We upgraded our email system and introduced tools to allow our teams to work better together and break down silos

We’d been on Lotus Notes for more than 12 years and, as Premier Foods changed, it stopped fitting our needs. We evaluated Google Apps, IBM® SmartCloud and Microsoft® Office 365. We found the tools in Google Apps were familiar and enabled employees to easily work together. They also gave us the ability to seamlessly sync everything to mobile devices, a previous pain point. After a short pilot, we launched Google Apps to 4,500 users and enabled 1,000 company-owned Android devices in just two months.

By switching to Google Apps from IBM Lotus Notes, we saved 50 percent on our email operating costs. In an investment heavy industry like manufacturing, any money that can be invested in revenue driving parts of the business like marketing and sales instead of on infrastructure like servers, is a huge benefit. Plus, as a company that has grown through acquisition, the ability to easily add or subtract users as needed allows us to scale our business with very little expense.

By connecting people and information, Google Apps has helped us build a sense of community inside the company that wasn’t there before. We’ve just started using Google+ Hangouts and they’ve already been fantastic for connecting employees across departments and locations. I personally have about 10 Hangouts a week which has cut down my travel dramatically as well as engaging and connecting the individuals that previously switched off during traditional voice conference calls. We’ve even created Hangout “kits” with webcams, headphones and “quiet” flags (to let fellow employees know you’re on a video conference), so people can grab a kit and try it for themselves.

Staying fresh can be a challenge for big food manufacturers, but with the help of Google Apps, Premier Foods is able to do just that. It’s fun to hear people say, “Wow, Premier Foods does video calls? That’s pretty cool.” It validates our focus on using technology that helps us stay one step ahead. And this is just the beginning – as Google continues to innovate, we'll continue to grow with it.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Nonprofits Blog and Google Europe Blog)

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the winners of the Google Global Impact Challenge in the UK, awarding prizes to nonprofits for some amazing, innovative uses of technology to help their causes. Today we are thrilled to go one step further and launch the Google for Nonprofits programme in the UK, starting in England and Wales.

Google for Nonprofits is a one-stop-shop that offers access to our suite of free and discounted products and tools. If you work for a nonprofit, you can apply to join the program today. Once your organisation is approved, you get free Google Apps to cut IT costs and operate more efficiently, up to $10,000 a month in advertising on Google AdWords to reach more donors, and premium features for YouTube and our mapping technologies to raise awareness of your cause. We’ve also developed other online resources such as educational videos, case studies and better ways to connect with other nonprofits.

Over the years, Google has donated over $1 billion worth of products to nonprofits, and several UK organisations are already using our tools. BeatBullying, a charity that fights online bullying, uses Google Apps to enable more sharing and collaboration amongst colleagues; the Royal National Lifeboat Institution uses Google AdWords and YouTube to raise awareness and recruit more supporters; and WaterAid uses Google mapping technologies to show where their work is making a difference.

We’re inspired and humbled by the amazing ways nonprofits are making the world a better place, and look forward to supporting the work of more UK nonprofits.


Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected. Today's guest blogger is Jim Nielsen, Manager of Enterprise Technology Architecture and Planning from Shaw Industries. Watch our manufacturing webinar and See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Shaw Industries, we’re proud to have been a part of Northwest Georgia’s manufacturing heritage for over one hundred and sixty years. Many of our employees have worked with us for thirty or forty years, bringing with them a deep knowledge of the flooring industry, and a dedication to continuing our tradition of excellence.

Though we started in Georgia (and are still based there), our real estate portfolio includes 80 manufacturing sites in seven U.S. states, Mexico and China. We also have 50 distribution centers, as well as 19 showrooms located around the world. We are, in every sense of the word, a global flooring manufacturer and staying connected through communication and collaboration is central to our business.

In 2012, we rolled out Google Apps to over 10,000 employees. In addition to the immediate benefits of email, calendar and contacts, tools like Google+ Hangouts and Google Drive helped us transform complex, manual, and slow processes into a fast-moving and efficient stream of information.

Because these tools make it much easier for our employees to communicate and collaborate wherever they are, Google Apps has helped us “go lean” by eliminating wasteful processes and improving information flow. For example, our plant engineers can keep machines running more efficiently and safely by using Google Drive on any device to access and share our equipment manuals and safety procedures.

The flow of information globally and locally has really improved, as well. The combination of Hangouts, Docs and Google Translate has helped our global teams communicate with plants and suppliers more easily while reducing meeting times by up to 50 percent. Even employees located only 20 minutes apart are choosing to meet over Hangouts, saving travel time and gas. Similarly, our marketing and sales teams also use Google Docs to work more efficiently with third-party agencies on print and broadcast ads, and our departmental finance teams have streamlined their budgeting processes with Google Sheets.

Our associates at Shaw are passionate about their work, their products and our company. Their passion extends to tools like Google. It’s not often that a product is implemented and a year later co-workers are still mentioning what a good idea it was, and how they are still excited to be using it. Google has helped us strengthen this community by allowing us to work together, wherever we are, with whatever devices we’re using. We’re operating on a leaner, stronger foundation thanks in large part to Google.


Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected.

Manufacturing has always been shaped by technology, from the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution to the latest robotics on the factory floor. As advances in technology have taken shape, it’s become important for manufacturing companies to manage widespread teams of employees in all corners of the globe and work with vendors and suppliers to serve global customers. There is an added expectation that the industry also needs to keep everyone in sync and effectively and efficiently communicate, collaborate, schedule and track employee and customer activities.

This week we will highlight how a handful of leaders in manufacturing use Google solutions to better focus on their business needs, allowing them to move faster, innovate and collaborate. By relying on new technology, manufacturers are discovering new ways to stay connected across locations, devices and systems. This week you’ll read specific examples from our customers: How one company used Google Apps to cut their meeting times in half; how another used Google Maps to track their best performing sales territory; and how one customer got real-time access to their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) by integrating Google Search Appliance.

Ready to learn more? Check back daily to learn how companies are streamlining processes and “going lean” with Google.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Jason Bullock, Infrastructure Director at BDP International, a global transportation company with operations in 115 cities throughout the world and a network of subsidiaries in 122 countries. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Whether it’s moving a tractor to Jakarta, sending a blood pressure monitor to Milan or putting a beer in someone’s hand, at BDP International, we manage logistics for international transportation from start to finish. We run everything from documentation to shipping, making sure all the regulatory requirements are met along the way. We depend on technology to orchestrate the freight logistics and transportation globally on air, land, and sea, so we need to have an email system that’s dependable and tools that are collaborative.

In the past, we used Microsoft Exchange. Maintaining the Exchange environment was costly, and without significant investment our reliability issues would’ve continued. We needed to be able to monitor the mobile devices that connect to our systems and better predict usage patterns. We considered upgrading our on-premise Exchange environment or moving to the cloud on either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Business. The Exchange upgrade was three to four times more expensive than both cloud options and, while Office 365 offered familiar features, the pricing was not within an acceptable cost structure at the time of our evaluation. Google Apps gave us a complete set of tools for a single per-user fee, with the highest reliability and security overall. In April of this year, Google Apps Reseller Cloud Sherpas helped us move our 3,600 employees over to Google Apps.

Although we’ve only been on Apps for a few months, we are already seeing how Google Apps is helping our employees work better together. First, our compliance team is using a Google Site as an internal regulatory information hub, and our VP of Compliance uses the automatic translation feature in Gmail to communicate with our office in Mexico in seconds, without the hassle of finding a translator or leaving the original message. We moved an entire process around event planning from a paper form to a Google Form, which allows our event coordinator to collect and share all the details with the planning staff seamlessly and much faster than before. Finally, we’ve moved off of our company Blackberries onto Android and iOS smartphones with Google Apps. This allows our teams to work faster since everyone can edit and collaborate in Google Drive from anywhere, while giving our IT team better visibility into our network thanks to the mobile management console.

Moving to Google Apps helps our employees view technology as a tool, not an obstacle, and is making us a more nimble company. We can get work done from anywhere while moving around as freely as our cargo. We had talked about making this happen at BDP for a long time, but Google Apps really helped us kickstart the change.


(Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog)

For those of you who have taken the plunge and are using desktop Hangouts in Gmail, Google+, and the Chrome extension, we've heard loud and clear that you miss the ability to make calls from Gmail, so today, we're happy to announce it's back - and better than before! Even better: calls to the US and Canada are now free from all countries where Hangouts calling is available. And international rates remain super, super low.

Today's launch also improves the desktop calling experience in a number of ways. For example: you can add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call; and you can play sound effects (like applause or laughter) with the Google Effects app.

To make a call from Hangouts, just look for the new phone icon in Gmail, or for the new "Call a phone" menu item in Google+ and the Chrome extension. And of course: if you haven't yet tried Hangouts in Gmail, you can always click your profile photo in the chat list and select "Try the new Hangouts."

Making calls from Hangouts is rolling out over the next couple of days. As we’ve said before: Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making and receiving calls is just the beginning. So stay tuned for future updates.

Philip Talamas, CIO oMinyanville Media, Inc

(Cross-posted on the Cloud Platform blog)

Editor's note: Today’s post is from Philip Talamas, CIO of Minyanville Media, Inc., a New York based financial media company. In this post, Philip looks at the benefits his company received from switching from a major public cloud provider to Google Cloud Platform.

At Minyanville Media, our goal is to create branded business content that informs, entertains, and educates all generations about the worlds of business and finance. We designed our premium Buzz & Banter app app to serve this need. The Buzz ran on a competing cloud platform that presented increasing technical challenges as we expanded our customer base and feature set. We wanted a higher performing platform offering a more flexible and deeper feature set; we wanted to be certain we were serving our longtime clients as best as we could.

We consulted our strategic technology partner MediaAgility, and the company advised us to move to Google Cloud Platform. There were two obvious benefits to switching to Google Cloud Platform from our old provider: better reliability and automatic demand-based scaling of the application.

Every day, thousands of investors access our system globally, everywhere from Syracuse to Switzerland. They turn to us for reliable market intelligence and investing ideas. Today's economic uncertainty, coupled with high frequency trading, keeps us on our toes. When a central bank unexpectedly cuts interest rates or a hacked tweet sends markets into a tailspin, seconds matter. We are timely, or we are out of business. It’s as simple as that. Additionally, we serve two major online brokerage firms, which have very high standards for performance and reliability.

Hence, we decided to move Buzz and Banter to the Google Cloud Platform. The improvement and increase in operational speed was drastic. New Buzz, running on Google App Engine, updates content instantaneously -- even before our content management system refreshes to confirm publication. The icing on the cake is that our operating costs are significantly lower than what they were under our old provider.

It’s rare that everyone wins in a technology transition, but that’s exactly what’s been accomplished in our move to Google App Engine. With a better customer experience, lower operating costs, and fewer technological headaches, we only wish that we’d made the switch sooner.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Steve Weston, Group Technology Director at Hays Recruitment, which is a leading global expert in qualified, professional and skilled recruitment. Hays is an international recruitment agency with 7,800 staff in 245 offices across 33 countries, and has recently expanded into Chile, Colombia and Malaysia. See what other organizations that use the Google Search Appliance have to say.

The recruitment industry is incredibly competitive. Often we win business when our recruitment consultants are able to get the best CVs to our clients faster than our competitors. We rely heavily on our contact databases so that we can match the best candidates to job vacancies.

At Hays, we have over 20 million archived documents and we receive 30,000 new CVs a day. With our old search system, CVs had to be categorised into databases and manually tagged. This held up the process of them entering the system, so our consultants couldn’t access them straight away. Consultants also had to learn specific codes to return the results they wanted, which made the whole process very time consuming.

To fix this problem we chose to implement the Google Search Appliance 7.0 (GSA). Not only does it integrate seamlessly with our internal database, but it also automatically indexes CVs. This means that our recruitment consultants have access to the most up to date candidates at all times and our IT team no longer has to spend hours manually indexing information. Since adopting GSA, our IT team have reduced the time they spend on search by 90%. Our recruitment consultants have also become more efficient because they're able to search across multiple databases in a second's time. Since the GSA is intuitive for a young workforce that is used to seamless consumer search, we also now save hours and thousands of pounds in training every year.

GSA 7.0 gives us the ability to automatically translate CVs and job specs through Google Translate. It is easier for us to compete in global markets, finding the best candidates within a global talent pool who may have previously been missed in the sea of information. For example, roles within the oil and gas industry are typically scattered around the world so it's far easier for us to match relevant candidates now that we have access to the Translate tool.

The global search capabilities of the GSA have also led to a cultural shift. Whereas previously there was a tendency to hoard the best candidates within specific databases, which only select recruitment consultants would be searching, now the candidate database is completely open so no single recruitment agent ‘owns’ the candidates within it.

These benefits have meant we’re now looking to use the GSA across all of our websites globally, making it easier and quicker for job seekers to find the right roles. After rolling this out in the UK and Ireland we found bounce rates have been dramatically reduced, meaning more people are finding the jobs they need from the site.

Google Enterprise’s search technology has fundamentally improved our business. It has put us firmly ahead of our competitors, making us more profitable and allowing us to expand internationally into new markets.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Adam Varga, lead engineer at Datalot, an online customer acquisition platform. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Customers like hearing a human voice on the other end of the phone line, not a distant, automated recording. At Datalot, we provide cloud-based call centers so that our client's potential customers always encounter a real person when they have a question, need help and make a phone call. We help companies in all lines of business, from health insurance to home improvement, find and connect with their customers because person-to-person interactions are a key ingredient in customer acquisition.
We built our first call centers using Windows computers, but that setup created headaches. I constantly had to adjust settings, restart machines or delete drivers that slowed down the call center computers. I felt like I was spending all my time troubleshooting Windows when I really wanted to focus on developing the software that would make our call centers more efficient. I needed to find a new approach.

Chromebooks were just the ticket. They’re simple for us to set up from anywhere and easy for call center agents to use. The Chrome management console allows for no touch deployment. It lets us lock down user permissions, set up the agent login page as a default homepage, monitor usage, and set the apps and extensions we want our agents to use. Standardizing on a single browser, Chrome, which powers Chromebooks also eliminates any app/browser compatibility surprises.

IT doesn’t need to worry about major problems slowing us down. Google ships the machines to the call center location and we set them up from our Brooklyn headquarters. It takes us very little time to establish a working call center anywhere.

The frequency and quality of Chrome OS updates also make it easy for us to focus on our clients, not our hardware. It’s especially crucial that these OS updates are sent to our machines automatically, so I don’t have to dial up the call center and tell agents to click the “update” button myself.

We’ve just touched the surface of what’s possible with Chromebooks. In the near future, we’ll leverage the User Management API to provide single sign-on for our agents and we hope to power entire call centers using only a Chrome extension. Chromebooks let us get our call centers up-and-running fast, so we know the human element that’s so important to our business isn’t getting lost because of IT issues. We can focus on building out our services and growing the company, and let Chromebooks handle the rest.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Tim Smith, Vice President of Digital at Imagination, a Chicago-based content marketing firm. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Imagination is a content marketing agency that helps companies connect and engage with their target audiences. Businesses like Wells Fargo, General Mills and US Foods turn to us when they want to reach their customers, and we make it happen by creating interesting and engaging content and distributing it across print, digital, broadcast and social media. We place a premium on creating smart strategies and executing on them quickly, so efficient and clear communication matters to us.

Last summer, we realized our technology was getting in the way of our ability to connect and engage with our own customers. We’d recently switched to Microsoft Office 365 as part of a larger company-wide move to the cloud, but ran into a number of problems we couldn’t ignore. Server connection issues prevented us from accessing our documents and Outlook crashes kept us from reading or sending email. Fifty percent of our help desk tickets were for email alone. And whenever a problem arose, we had to hire an expensive Microsoft consultant to fix the issue. When I stopped and realized we had a managed service provider in our office two to three times each week, it struck me: this was not the right IT solution for our agile, quick-moving and collaborative company. So we turned to Google Apps.

Once we had the support of the executive team, I reached out to Cloudbakers, a Google Apps Reseller based near our office in Chicago. They had done numerous deployments for companies like ours before, so they had a well-informed, specific step-by-step plan in place when we first sat down to talk details. They came on-site and ran in-person training for our employees, so everyone felt properly prepared to tackle their work using the new technology without skipping a beat.

Moving to Apps made our IT headache disappear. Help tickets have decreased by 50 percent and we’re on track to save $24,000 per year in help desk and downtime reduction alone. Employees no longer complain about VPN logins or email client configuration; now they can sign on to their account from any device and have everything they need at their fingertips. We don’t encounter hardware issues that make work come grinding to a halt; employees can simply sign into a spare device and instantaneously access their email and files.

Our employees have really embraced Apps, and we've seen a strong trend where teams are adopting new products and features organically. Everyone stores their important documents, presentation and spreadsheets on Google Drive. There’s also been a massive drop in the use of Microsoft Excel in the past few months as people start picking up Google Sheets and Docs. As a data enthusiast, I can’t get enough of the Drive dashboard. It’s revealed a fascinating trend where use of Excel and Word is dropping while the number of Docs and Sheets is shooting up.

We’re in the midst of evaluating a new CRM system, and our COO has one requirement: it has to integrate with Google Apps. Now that’s a success story every IT manager likes to share.