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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Suresh K L, Chief Information Officer at Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, a Ghanaian bank serving 450,000 customers across 45 branches. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Established in 2006, Fidelity Bank Ghana is the sixth largest commercial bank in Ghana—employing 1,200 people and serving 450,000 customers across the country. As the banking industry in west Africa continues to evolve, we’re seeing growth due to our aim to provide customers with a faster, simpler banking solution so they can focus on building their businesses and living their lives. We decided to move to Google Apps in March of 2013 because of the guaranteed uptime, high security, low operating costs, and the opportunity for better collaboration among our employees.

Our legacy email system would be down for countless hours—wasting time, decreasing performance, and compromising security. As a result of the unresolvable server outages before switching, employees started using their personal email addresses for official communication, which was against company policy. Our old system operated at 30 to 40 percent more downtime than Google Apps and I personally was losing about six hours a week from downtime.

Since Google Apps is cloud-based and updates automatically, we’re now saving 30 percent in operating costs per year versus our previous environment. The legacy email system required frequent costly upgrades and hardware maintenance. And, like many banks, the security of our account holders’ information is very important to us so we were impressed by the SAS 70 security certification for Google Apps Vault and we were comfortable with making the switch.

Employee collaboration from any device, regardless of location, was a big driver in our move to Google Apps. Many of our employees don’t have desk phones, so Hangouts—with the instant chat feature—have really helped the team stay connected. I’ve seen employees with 12 different chats open at once! Hangouts have reduced the number of meetings we have, allowing different stakeholders to collaborate without having a formal meeting. Before moving to Google Apps, we had major issues trying to access our email during trips abroad. We returned home with hundreds of emails and spent days just reading through them. With Google Apps accessible from anywhere, we can check our email inbox from virtually any device, boosting productivity and time savings.

Google Drive is helping our employees be more productive, and the transition was seamless. Since each user has 30GB of space, there’s plenty of room to have all of our documents and we can access our Docs, Sheets, and Slides from anywhere. We use Drive as our intranet—uploading everything from HR policies to compliance documents. We’re also creating microsites to serve as collaborative hubs for individual departments. For example, we have Google Sheets shared across branches and teams to manage our sales activity, our private and executive banking sales activity, our future business pipeline reports and collating weekly operational reports. Company-wide, we can attribute about 15 percent of time savings directly to Google Apps, but some individuals are saving even more time. Our head of ATM card management is now saving two days per week using Google Forms. Previously, she received 44 separate email attachments each week from various branches that she had to manually input into a master document. Now, those updates are collected using an automated Google Form that auto-populates the master Google Sheet.

Overall, I love seeing all the innovative ways in which employees are proactively using Google Apps to be more efficient and productive. We continue to explore new opportunities to leverage Google Apps to make employee collaboration and productivity better.

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Editor's note: Our guest blogger today is James Anderson, CEO of Architectural Windows & Doors, a small family run business that supplies and creates “upmarket” windows and doors for residential properties across Queensland and Northern New South Wales. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Architectural Windows & Doors we supply and install windows and doors. But we take true pride in the work we do with our customers as design consultants to turn architectural concepts into reality. We’ve been in business in Brisbane for over ten years and employ around 20 staff.

Many parts of Queensland are prone to cyclones and extreme weather so we not only work to find the right look when customising designs, but also the highest safety features. No strangers to disaster ourselves, our store was severely damaged during the Queensland Flood in 2010-2011. And like many small businesses, we felt the heat during the financial crisis, so we are always looking for ways to keep costs down while still delivering the same top quality products and customer service.

Our delivery and installation team are always out on-the-go in meetings with clients, doing installations, or picking up materials at the factory. So having a good workforce management tool to see where our mobile workers are is critical; not only to manage jobs and productivity, but also so we can ensure their safety.

We started using Google Maps Coordinate in September last year. Before that, we used a solution which cost $100 per month per vehicle. Since moving to Google we’ve noticed major productivity and service improvements as well as cost benefits. For a start we’re saving about $400 a month.

The productivity and safety benefits have been big too. Because Google Maps Coordinate integrates mapping, scheduling and job detail functions into the one handset based system, we can create jobs and assign staff based on their locations all in one go. We no longer have to worry about duplicating data either. Our team members can look up client information and update their records seamlessly, eliminating pointless trips back to the office. We were a Google Apps customer for three years before moving to Coordinate, so our email, documents and scheduling apps are also accessible from our phones. This means our team can access everything it needs while on the road.

As Google Maps Coordinate is handset rather than vehicle based, we now also have accurate data on where our guys actually are at any given time. Previously we only knew where they parked their vehicle, which could have been a couple of blocks down the road from a client’s house. This would pose a problem for health and safety. Because our teams always have their phones on them, we now have peace of mind knowing where they are when they’re on the job. And they can turn that function off when they’re not working or heading home for the day.

Additionally, some of our site-staff don’t return to our factory to clock in or out, so Coordinate helps us accurately record their hours worked and ensure they have their required breaks (by using the visibility feature) in the absence of a timecard unit.

Google Maps Coordinate is an ideal solution for an SMB like us. It provides us with a world-class mapping and technology solution and scales for our budget and needs. Small businesses should be able to access the same technology solutions as the big boys and by bringing Google’s mapping technologies to modern smartphones, Google Maps Coordinate does just that.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Martin Russell, Head of IT Services at JUST EAT, a UK-based leading online takeaway ordering service. The company has over 1,000 employees worldwide and partners with more than 38,000 restaurants around the world. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

JUST EAT connects local hungry consumers all over the world with local takeaway restaurants that they love. Through our online and mobile app service, we enable consumers across 13 countries to get their favorite dishes delivered to them with our quick and easy online ordering system.

Since I joined JUST EAT in November 2010, our business has grown from 200 employees to more than 1,000 in a span of two and a half years. But with this incredible pace of growth, our IT services were strained. I needed to give our employees the basic tools they needed to get their jobs done that would scale at our rapid pace, while keeping our data and the data of our customers secure. Since we expanded internationally, giving them ways to collaborate regardless of location was of the utmost importance.

When I first joined the team, we were in the middle of one too many IT outages. The time and resources we wasted dealing with the upkeep of our email solution was getting out of control. I started exploring email alternatives and the cloud was a secure and scalable solution. When I looked into Google Apps, I was really excited about how collaborative, flexible and secure all the tools were. At £33 per user, Google Apps was also the most cost-efficient solution.

We now use the entire Google Apps suite. Initially, we were most interested in Gmail, but adoption of the rest of the apps spread organically across our company. Hangouts have completely changed the way we communicate. Video chat connects our globally dispersed staff, and now I can manage my entire team remotely via Hangouts. Google+ quickly gained popularity within our company for internal conversations—it’s essentially taken the place of our internal social network. As we grow, it becomes more difficult to maintain relationships but tools like Hangouts and Google+ have really kept us connected.

Google Apps has removed a lot of the stress that is traditionally associated with my job. I don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. anymore to make sure our email is up and running or rush to restart the server because the system is down. Now, if an employee loses a work laptop, I don’t have to worry about lost or stolen files. Having the assurance that all our documents are securely stored on Drive is a relief.

The one thing I recommend to businesses switching over to Google Apps is to do the migration quickly. I wish we had migrated faster as the transition was much smoother than expected and most of our employees were eager to switch. Google Apps have saved us massive amounts of time, made our work environment much more collaborative and flexible, and have taken a lot of the stress out of my job.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform Blog)

Editor's note: Today’s guest post is from Ben Kamens, Lead Developer at Khan Academy, a not-for-profit that provides a free education available for anyone. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Khan Academy has an audacious mission: to provide a free world class education to anyone anywhere. With less than fifty full-time employees at the company, our small team has to take special care to work on whatever’s most critical. So we’re building a culture that relentlessly focuses on shipping code that improves students’ lives. Our team of developers relies on three simple principles that guide all the work we do:
  1. Shipping beats perfection.
  2. Be open. Share your work.
  3. Anybody can fix anything.
  4.  
    Google Cloud Platform provides a flexible and reliable environment to put these principles into practice. With Google App Engine in particular, we get a big, enormous, whopper of a benefit — consistent Datastore performance no matter how big the product gets. Even if we have a query that returns 10 items from a set of 10,000, we can relax. We know that as our company grows over time, we’ll get the exact same speed when pulling 10 items from a set of 10,000,000,000. 
    Lots of people ask, “How will you know if Khan Academy is really successful?” My answer is always the same: we of course care about data, analytics, and metrics that demonstrate provable, real learning. But in the back of my mind I’m most persuaded by the personal stories that people send us literally every day. Those stories of real lives being changed for the better are the reason why we believe a free educational resource like Khan Academy simply must exist.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Matt Jarrard, Deputy Director of the Healthcare Facility Regulation Division and Health Planning Director of Georgia’s Department of Community Health, which licenses and regulates health care facilities for the state. Tune into today’s webinar at 11:00am PST to hear more about how GaMap2Care is making a difference. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.


While the State of Georgia is known for its peaches and the Atlanta Braves, it also takes pride in finding ways to make life easier for its citizens. The Georgia Department of Community Health oversees programs that serve 10 million people and regulates 7,000 health care facilities, including nearly 2,000 personal care homes. In keeping with our goals of being lean and responsive, we found a cost-effective way to serve the community with GaMap2Care, an application built on Google Maps. The app helps the public and government officials locate, visualize and monitor all the state’s licensed health care facilities.

Using the app, people can locate facilities such as hospitals and personal care homes based on specialty, location, size and number of beds. They can also see satellite views or zoom in on street views. The app shows inspection reports for many facilities and other information which had previously required an open record request. Virtual tours let families quickly see if a facility meets their needs.

GaMap2Care is intuitive to use because of widespread familiarity with Google Maps. The app’s rich features allow us to help people in a variety of ways. For example, lawmakers have often asked for the number of nursing homes in their district. Staff would have needed to manually compare lists prepared in a separate report to district boundaries. Now, GaMap2Care provides this information all on one map that allows lawmakers to easily determine which district the facilities belong to.

GaMap2Care is also helping state workers and officials serve the community better. Analysts setting health care policy can now more easily identify underserved areas. In addition, the state’s 165 health care facility surveyors investigating complaints or non-compliance issues can calculate distances and plan trips before they hit the road, saving time and improving efficiency. We also added additional map layers, such as populations and weather, that let officials see what facilities might be affected before a natural disaster.

The app was designed and developed internally by existing staff. The ease of Google Maps’ customization enabled a programmer with no previous Geographic Information System (GIS) experience to integrate data from different sources into the map. Compared to other solutions, we found Google Maps to be easier to use, faster to load and offering more customization. A license from a traditional Geographic Information System would have required extensive user training and was expected to be considerably more than a Google Maps license.

With GaMap2Care, state workers can be productive and efficient, and citizens have access to information that saves them time and helps them make critical informed health care decisions. We look forward to making GaMap2Care even more useful with the launch of the mobile version of the application in the near future, and will continue to enhance and expand features and functionality.

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Editor's note: Our guest blogger today is Keith Evans, EVP Strategy & Process at Standard Parking, the leading national provider of parking facility management services. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Standard Parking, we help people park their cars safely and quickly. We employ over 23,000 people across 4,200 facilities – that amounts to over 2 million parking spaces – across the country. To help serve our clients and customers better, we merged with Central Parking nine months ago to become the largest parking management company. In order to manage this large scale operation, we use Google Apps for Business to stay connected and consistent across our company.

Last year, we decided to replace our old Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. We needed a solution that focused on mobile and collaboration, and was cost effective and scalable. We looked at Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, but never seriously considered 365 because of the cost alone. Upgrading our current on-premise system would’ve been nearly four times more expensive than going Google. Our CEO demonstrated his commitment and helped with our change management efforts when he told the pilot group during a training session, “If I can do this, you can do this.” With the help of Google Apps reseller MavenWave, we made the initial switch for Standard Parking in February of 2012.

After our merger with Central Parking in October of 2012, we had a highly distributed organization with employees at headquarters in Chicago and Nashville, as well as at thousands of facilities across the country. Google Apps let us move the entire Central Parking organization off of Exchange and on to our domain quickly – it was like we simply flipped a switch. We also created an intranet using Google Sites that became the company’s primary means of communication to employees, both old and new, during the merger. All departments have pages on the site for policies, procedures and other documentation. We also created an "Operations Playbook" that outlines the company processes. It's a great resource for employees, managers, and executives.

Google Apps gave the company a single platform for our 4,200 users to communicate with each other, maintain personal and shared calendars, and the flexibility and access that they didn’t have before. We’re a field-based organization, but remotely connecting to our old email system was incredibly hard. Employees had to connect to a VPN or use a non-intuitive Outlook web interface. Google Apps lets anyone log in to their email on any device at any time.

We want our business to be as simple and efficient as possible, so that our customers’ only worry is about getting their car in between the lines. We’ve gone through a lot of changes and growth over the past year, but Google Apps has helped us turn two companies into one, and keep thousands of garages under one technology roof.

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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger Ernest L. Cu, President and CEO of Globe Telecom, a telecommunications company in The Philippines. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Globe Telecom we work to quickly and easily connect people to one another and to the information they need. As one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies, we have a vast network of mobile, fixed line, and broadband Internet services that connect 36 million customers across over 7,000 islands of the archipelago.

Filipinos love technology. In fact, we have the highest rate of smartphone adoption in South East Asia. The country is experiencing an exciting time of economic growth, and to support this growth and provide our customers with the great service they expect, Globe is going through its own process of transformation and innovation. We’re upgrading our network and systems as well as moving our headquarters to Fort Bonifacio.

To manage this change and give our customers great service, our internal communication systems need to be fast and reliable. This is why we’ve decided to make the switch to Google Apps. Moving to a cloud-based set of tools and being able to access information from any device at any time means that everyone from the head office, to store employees, to call center staff and vendors will be able to connect more easily. This will ultimately improve our customer service, as well.

By finding new ways to collaborate, we’ll not only be able to improve our customers service, but it will also help us focus on innovation. Managing projects is a large part of everyone’s work life at Globe, and now our teams will be able to coordinate their projects more efficiently with Google Calendar and Google Sites. When we ran a test with Google Apps it took just a few hours for 50 of our non-technical staff to set up team sites, add their calendars, agendas and profiles and start working together on campaigns collaboratively. This is much faster than any system we’ve used before and will open up lots of avenues to be more innovative.

A big part of our culture is having face-to-face meetings, so Google+ Hangouts will be a great way for us to connect face-to-face with our colleagues around the country instead of flying or driving everywhere. Using consumer tools like Gmail and Google Docs have other benefits too — staff are familiar with these tools from their personal lives and when given choice, 73% of our employees voted to use Google Apps.

As a company focused on driving innovation and collaboration to give our customers a great experience, we’re looking forward to undertaking this journey with Google Apps.

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If you're a Google Apps for Business, Government or Education customer, today we're releasing a few new features designed to make it even easier for you to get things done with Google+. Over the next few days new business-focused features for the Google+ app on Android and general availability of the Google+ Domains API will be rolling out.

Share with coworkers on the go
First, the Google+ app on Android now supports multiple accounts, so you can log in to both a personal and a work account, and easily switch between them as you can in other apps such as Gmail.

Next, you can now create restricted posts from the Google+ app on Android. Restricted posts can’t be shared outside your organization, so your private conversations are only visible to your coworkers.
Finally, new domain labels in both the mobile app and on the web help you quickly identify your coworkers’ profiles so you’re connecting and sharing with the right people.
Develop business apps that integrate with Google+
At Google I/O in May we announced a limited preview of the Google+ Domains API. Starting today the Google+ Domains API is available to all Google Apps customers. The API allows Apps customers to integrate Google+ into their existing tools and processes, and allows enterprise software vendors to access Google+ from their products.

For example Ocado, a Google Apps customer, is using the Google+ Domains API to sync Active Directory teams with employees’ circles. This will ensure that every employee always has an up-to-date circle containing all the other members of their team.

Cloudlock, an enterprise software vendor in the Google Apps Marketplace, is using the Google+ Domains API to add support for Google+ to its suite of data loss prevention, governance and compliance applications.
Learn more about the Google+ Domains API on the Google Apps Developer Blog and read the documentation on the Google+ developers site.

These changes will be rolling out to Google Apps customers over the next several days. To use the new mobile features, download the Google+ app from the Google Play Store. Stay tuned for more Google+ features built for businesses.

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If you’re a Google Apps for Business administrator—or if you know one—you know it’s not just about managing users, services and devices. It’s also about keeping users secure and productive—and, after receiving some great feedback from our customers, we’ve found a way to make that easier.

Now, admins can elect to receive customizable email alerts when certain events of interest occur. By subscribing to alerts, admins can stay informed and, when needed, take prompt corrective action. These alerts are also helpful when multiple admins work together and want to stay informed on these changes.

There are two kind of alerts:

  • User Alerts: Generated when our systems detect suspicious or unusual login events as well as on user-level administrator actions such as additions, deletions or suspensions. Real-time alerts allow admins to review the changes and take corrective action.
  • Settings Alerts: These alerts are automatically generated when any change by administrators to applications, device management or service settings is detected.

To see the latest alerts – and to subscribe to emailed alerts – simply login to your Admin console (admin.google.com) and go to Reports > Alerts. Questions? To learn more, visit the help center or contact our support team that is available by phone or email 24/7.

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Since we launched Google Apps Vault, thousand of businesses, schools, and governments have adopted it to archive, retain, and manage business-critical information. Until now, customers have only been able to buy Vault for their entire domain. Now, with partial domain licensing, you can buy Vault for specific users or by organizational units, enabling you to save money and focus your efforts.

Google Apps Vault helps protect organizations of all sizes from lawsuits by enabling them to quickly find and preserve email messages that may be relevant to litigation, reducing investigation costs. Vault also helps manage and preserve business-critical information for continuity, compliance, and regulatory purposes.

You can add Vault to an existing Apps account, or purchase it in conjunction with Apps, for $5 per user per month. If you purchased Google Apps online directly from Google, you can purchase Vault from your Apps Admin Console. If you purchased Vault from a reseller partner, please contact them to purchase additional Vault users. And, finally, please contact us if you are a Google Apps for Education or Government customer interested in Vault.

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Editor's note: This post comes from guest blogger Colin Reilly, Director of Geographic Information Systems at the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Read how NYC is improving crisis management by integrating Google Maps Engine, the core of the Google Maps for Business solution.

At the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, we bring mission-critical technologies to city agencies, making life for our residents easier and safer. This includes creating apps and online services that New Yorkers can depend on, such as our newly launched Hurricane Zone Finder.

In the wake of Superstorm Hurricane Sandy, we realized the importance of reliable technology in a natural disaster. During the storm, record levels of traffic to our online evacuation map slowed performance and blocked updates. We knew that we needed to find the right technology to keep our maps running during the worst of storms.

Now that we’ve implemented Google Maps Engine, we can ensure that New Yorkers can get the information they need, when they need it most, no matter how hard a storm rages or how many people access the system. Powered by Google’s reliable cloud infrastructure, our new Hurricane Zone Finder not only guides residents to the nearest evacuation area, but can also handle thousands of visitors to the site.

The revamped site highlights color-coded evacuation zones on a Google Map, helping people easily determine if they need to evacuate and find out where they should go. Mobile and online visitors can check the Hurricane Zone Finder on nearly any device and get directions – driving, walking, or transit – to the closest evacuation center. All of this information is provided in the Google Maps interface, letting users interact with familiar technology.

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Google Maps Engine made it easy for us to develop and publish our maps. Included with the new tool are the three new hurricane evacuation zones developed by the New York City Office of Emergency Management; in total, six zones now cover nearly three million residents. The Google Maps Engine API lets us quickly process this new information, and provide a map with boundaries that are updated and precise.

Hurricane Sandy taught us some valuable lessons about informing New Yorkers in advance of a major storm. While online maps can get people the information they need, they are only part of the solution. With Google Maps Engine, we can provide visitors with a tool that is not only informative but reliable. And as long as our residents are informed and kept up to date, we’re doing our job.