Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Jon Spruce, Google Programme Leader for Travis Perkins plc, the UK’s leading company in the builders’ merchant and home improvement market and largest supplier to the building and construction market. See what other organisations that use Google Drive have to say.
Travis Perkins plc supplies building materials for projects small and large across the United Kingdom, from home improvements to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Creating quotes for a variety of different jobs and tasks, then making sure the materials get where they need to be, requires serious coordination. We chose Google Apps to enable collaboration across our 2,000 locations, 24,000 people and 17 different businesses. And since making the switch, Google Drive in particular has played a significant role in making our company operate smoothly and efficiently: we use Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents, which has reduced travel, email traffic and the time taken to get things done.

Before Google Drive, the process of creating quotes was disjointed and confusing. We’ve made a series of acquisitions over the last 30 years, and with each one, also acquired a new technology and system, which left us with a mismatched set of storage and document creation products. People created their own ‘kingdoms’ of data, and expected they’d be able to share information – with very limited success. With Google Drive, we can deliver quotes to customers at a steady pace, while making sure that employees across the Travis Perkins Group can provide and access the most up-to-date information at any time.

Drive has also taken the sluggishness out of the quote pipeline. In one of our businesses, BSS Industrial, we start by creating a document about the project at the customer’s local branch, then create a shared folder, and add in blueprints, estimates, and photos – anything the rest of the team needs to build and fulfill the quote.

As employees locate and price supplies or visit the building site to take precise measurements, everyone can update the same files. We no longer worry about which email or spreadsheet is correct, since we all work together on the same project quotes. Drive gives us an accurate, up-to-date picture of our progress at any given moment.


No matter how things change, a face-to-face conversation is still the fastest and simplest way to communicate. Using Hangouts lets teams collaborate over video meetings across smartphones, tablets and computers. And dedicated Chromebox for meetings devices extend these video meetings to any room. Today, we’re announcing the latest features, updates and partnerships that make video meetings even easier and better for Google Apps for Business customers.

Enhanced reliability and support for Hangouts
Hangouts is now covered under the same Terms of Service that support our other Google Apps for Business products, like Gmail and Drive. That means we’ve got your back with 24x7 phone support and a 99.9% guaranteed uptime, as well as ISO27001 and SOC 2 certification. Additional enterprise integration with Google Apps Vault is coming by the end of the year.

Simpler to get everyone on video meetings
Starting today, Hangouts video meetings support any Google Apps customer account, including those without a Google+ profile. Any Google Apps customer can start or join a high-definition video meeting that connects 15 participants—from a computer or Chromebox for meetings device and coming soon to mobile phone and tablet.

And to make video meetings with Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings even more accessible, we’re partnering with additional providers to let you meet with teams using other systems. Blue Jeans will allow people on traditional H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing systems to join video meetings. InterCall will let people join video meetings on their phones through an InterCall audio-conference bridge. And with new phone dialing support, you’ll be able to dial out from your Chromebox for meetings device to telephones.

Bringing Chromebox for meetings to more places
In the coming months, we’ll be making Chromebox for meetings work better in rooms of all shapes and sizes. In larger conference rooms, you can connect two displays to one Chromebox for meetings device to see your audience and project a presentation at the same time. And if you’ve ever wanted a dedicated setup for video meetings for your home, new personal calendar integration means you will be able to easily set up Chromebox for meetings outside the office.

Lastly, IT administrators can better manage meetings right from the Google Apps Admin Console with options like remotely starting, muting and ending a meeting.

Spontaneous one-on-one brainstorms, monthly company-wide meetings, or connecting two offices via a continuous video stream are just some ways customers like Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kaplan and Eventbrite have used Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings. And soon, even more teams across the world will be able to get simple and affordable video meetings. In the coming weeks, we’ll be expanding Chromebox for meetings to the UK and Japan in addition to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And in September, you’ll be able to purchase Chromebox for meetings made by Dell.

To learn more about these updates, join our product team for a live Hangout on Air on August 19. And to help your team see eye-to-eye, check out how you can get Hangouts and purchase Chromebox for meetings devices.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Ridd, Managing Director for Xero in Australia. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software company with 300,000 customers worldwide and over 800 employees across offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

At Xero, our core business is making beautiful, intuitive cloud based accounting software that helps small business owners spend more time doing what they do best, and less time worrying about keeping their books in order. Xero started life as a small four person operation in New Zealand. Eight years later, we’ve grown to 300,000 customers worldwide and 800 employees across 17 offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand.

This rapid growth was great, but it came with challenges, like finding the right people and new premises. One of the biggest challenges was coordination. With hundreds of employees dotted around different parts of the world, it soon became apparent that we needed to improve how we documented information, shared content and communicated.

I have to admit, it was ironic that although our core product is cloud-based, we weren't actually using this same technology to its full extent within our own business. Instead, teams used a combination of cloud software and legacy desktop software that required continual expensive upgrades. With a highly mobile team based all over the globe, we needed a communications platform that would scale with us, make it easy to collaborate from anywhere, and help us maintain our fluid and mobile way of doing business.

To that end, in December last year we decided to change to Google Apps, and I’m pleased to say this has led to huge boosts in productivity and openness. Tasks that used to be time consuming – like emailing a document around for edits – now take just hours. Teams can also now jump into a document from Google Drive and collaborate on product release notes, spreadsheets, blog posts, and dozens of other documents with people around the world in real time.

Whether we conduct meetings in break-out areas or our in-house cafe, open laptops are ever-present, with Xero employees writing minutes in real-time so that everyone has their action items as soon as they walk out the door. Having 99% of our documents saved in Drive gives us a central place where people can find and store everything — and that means no more lost files, confusion over multiple versions, or duplication of work.

Moving to the cloud has made international coordination so much easier. Hangouts bring far flung teammates face to face, and during these video meetings people will often work together on the same document right from within he Hangouts window. Being able to work from anywhere — the office, home, the airport or the back of a taxi — has made everyone feel much freer because they can work wherever they want, on any device without worrying about losing documents.

Although it’s difficult to quantify how much money we’ll save with Google Apps, I’ve seen a lot less hardware around the office. In fact, we no longer need to spend money and time updating and maintaining servers. Productivity gains have been impressive, too.

By embracing the cloud-technology our customers use every day, we’ve been able to vastly improve the way Xero employees across our offices communicate, collaborate and share ideas. ‘Anywhere, anytime on any device’ is a key benefit we promote to customers, and it’s great to see we can now embrace that every day within Xero.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Lisa Ventura, Vice President of Accounting and Administration for the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, a non-profit organization that services businesses and consumers in the community.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a real mix of in office and telecommuting staff. As a busy non-profit, technology is forefront of our organization and, like a lot of Better Business Bureau offices around the country, we don’t have an IT department, which adds to the challenge of keeping information both secure and accessible. If someone needs tech help, I put on my IT hat (as does Kevin J. Sanders, our CEO), and configure new computers or update software. Juggling the IT responsibilities can be difficult during busier times of the year.

That is until we decided to bring 35 Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business at the BBB. Almost overnight, we reduced the time we spent handling IT tasks like software updates and patches, and worrying about security concerns. We’ve already seen firsthand how Google can help our business  we were early adopters among BBB offices of Google Apps for Business (about 30% of BBBs nationwide now use Google Apps), and we love collaborating on documents and managing our emails, which Google Apps has made so simple.

Chromebooks and Chromeboxes give us even more freedom and help us lock down the security of information. The devices run on the Chrome operating system and software is updated automatically on each device. Security is built into the Chromebook in multiple layers, such as sandboxing and data encryption, so we can rest easy knowing that malware can’t get very far. Using the Chrome management console we can preload the apps that we want employees to use and restrict downloads to only those applications employees need for working with consumers and Accredited Businesses. Not only are we greatly reducing IT issues, we have saved roughly $900 per seat by purchasing Chromeboxes versus computers with added software. With a staff of approximately 50 people, that savings really adds up.

Using Google Apps for Business eliminated the need for email and document servers, instantly saving BBB the cost of maintaining those devices. It became easier to share documents and track user changes, instead of emailing those documents back and forth as attachments. Plus, the ability to have Google Apps anywhere you are, allows our remote workers to always have information at their fingertips. Moving off our Windows-based desktops and laptops onto Chromebooks and Chromeboxes made perfect sense after seeing so much success from switching to Google Apps for Business.

We’re in the process of expanding beyond our original order of 35 devices and switching out all of our desktops and laptops to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes – a huge benefit for our busy organization. In fact, we’ve become such experts at adopting Google technology that other BBB offices in North America are coming to us for advice on Google Apps and buying up Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business


A few weeks ago at Google I/O, Docs, Sheets and Slides got a major upgrade — making it even easier for you to get work done at the office and on-the-go with Google Apps. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of how you can edit Office files, make Suggested Edits and a new ability to convert tracked changes to Suggested Edits:

Edit and share Office files — without Office
Technology is changing the way people work, but all that change can cause friction when employees are using different software. That’s why we made it possible to edit Office files directly in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents in their native format using Office Compatibility Mode. No need to buy additional software or think about how to open your file. The Docs, Sheets and Slides mobile apps come with Office editing built right in, and with the Chrome extension, you can edit and share files directly from Google Drive or Gmail.
Suggest Edits in Docs
Docs makes working together easy by letting people edit files in real-time, rather than emailing multiple versions of the same document back and forth. But sometimes you want to control specific changes someone else makes in a document. Suggest Edits in Docs lets you do just that: your team can make suggestions that you can accept or reject with a single click. This feature is available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the web, and is coming soon to our mobile apps.
Convert your tracked changes to Suggest Edits
While you no longer have to convert Microsoft Word files to Docs (thanks to the recent Quickoffice integrations), if you do, starting today any tracked changes in a .docx file will be automatically carried over to Docs as Suggested Edits. Once you’ve imported your changes, you can begin immediately collaborating with your colleagues in real-time.
These features are available today. So next time you’re collaborating in Docs try suggesting edits to speed up the review process.

Simon Forsyth, Software Engineer, Gmail

(Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog.)

Important stuff doesn't always happen when you’re conveniently sitting at your desk. Maybe you're out to dinner when your boss tells you that she needs the latest project proposal ASAP, or your daughter calls you on your commute home to ask you to proofread her college essay (that’s of course due that night!). While we can't make your life more predictable, today's update to the Gmail iOS app, along with earlier updates to the Gmail Android app, makes it easier to get stuff done on-the-go.

Just like with Gmail on the web, you can now insert files from Google Drive directly into an email on your phone or tablet.
The apps will even tell you if your file isn’t shared with the person you’re sending it to so you can change the sharing settings before you send it. And to help you store all your files in a single place, if someone sends you an email attachment, you can save it directly to Drive with one tap.
On iOS, you can now also change your profile picture right from your Settings. So the next time you take that perfect selfie, you can make it your profile picture right away, all while out with friends. Lastly, if you have multiple Gmail accounts, you can choose which signed-in accounts you want visible in the app.

You can give these features a try by downloading the updated Gmail iOS app from the App Store, and if you’re using an Android phone or tablet, you can get the latest version of the Gmail Android app from the Google Play Store.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Brent Hoag, IT Director at Briggs & Stratton, the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment.

Briggs & Stratton has been in the business of making gas-powered engines for more than 100 years, and if you use a lawn mower or tractor, chances are it’s running one of our engines. Today, we also sell portable generators, pressure washers and snow blowers, and we’re transitioning into a maker of consumer equipment.

A few years ago, our CEO, Todd Teske, set out a strategy to break the company into the consumer market — an expansion from our long history in the original equipment manufacturing industry. To bring his strategy to life, he needed the company to adapt to the demands of consumer markets and invest in innovation. He hired me to help make that change happen with help from the best technology available. When I discovered that 15% of our network traffic was consumed by unsecured content storing and sharing and realized that poor communication was leading to inefficiencies, I pushed for a move to Google Apps. I knew that switching to Google’s platform would not only fix our communications problems, but help our 3,000 employees be both more innovative and more effective.

That’s happening now, in a big way. In a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, for example, one of our industrial engineers saw a way for Google Drive to replace an outdated, paper-based system to get critical information to production line workers. For decades, step-by-step instructions for assembling engine parts and quality-control checklists were all typed up and printed out for workers on five production lines. This wasn’t just a waste of paper — it often led to damaging errors when processes changed and employees were going about their jobs with inaccurate instructions and manuals. The proliferation of out-of-date information was just inefficient and potentially hazardous. To solve this problem, the engineering team created a page with Google Sites with Drive folders for each piece of manufacturing equipment, with photos, instructions for assembly, how-to videos for each of the steps and line schedules — all in a variety of file types, like JPGs, PDFs and Word docs. Workers can read instructions and learn exactly how to do the assembly using shared workstations on the plant floor.

Drive doesn’t just help us on the shop floor — it’s equally essential for our sales team, who spend a lot of time on the road, meeting with dealers and partners. Reps used to have to spend an hour or two sifting through different Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to find the most up-to-date pricing and promotions data before heading out to customer meetings and jotting down notes or downloading information onto their laptops. We’re now storing the current pricing database and promotions spreadsheet in Drive, and since our Sales teams use Drive sync on their computers, the latest information is automatically synced from Drive to their laptops. They never have to wonder if they have the right prices when they’re talking to a customer. They can also use the Drive mobile app to access the same information on their mobile devices. This means more hours spent with customers and a happier sales team — two big wins for Briggs.

Google is helping us streamline our manufacturing and business processes at a time when we have unprecedented product and corporate growth. And Todd’s strategy around breaking into the consumer market is making its mark: we’ve introduced 40 new models of lawn, garden and outdoor power equipment, won a handful of “Best of” awards and continue to see a growing percentage of our revenue come from these innovations. Google allows us to change our image inside and outside the company in a democratic and creative way, from the assembly line to the CEO’s office.


Last fall, we launched Maps Engine Pro to give businesses and individual users an easy-to-use tool for collaborative map creation. Using Maps Engine Pro, you can create rich, multi-layered maps, share information with stakeholders and make decisions more collaboratively.

Starting today, all Maps Engine Pro users will also have access to Google Maps Coordinate, a mobile and web app that lets teams assign jobs and share their locations with each other in real-time. The new offering combines dynamic data visualization with location-based communication using Google Maps.
Pure Fix Cycles, a distributor of custom, fixed gear bikes, uses Maps Engine Pro to identify sales opportunities across target markets, helping to expand their business throughout the U.S. and around the world.

With the same $5 per user per month subscription to Maps Engine Pro, organizations will have access to this powerful suite of productivity tools. For example, a building management firm can organize the buildings they maintain on a map and when a maintenance call comes in, assign the nearest worker to the job.
In addition to making Maps Coordinate available to Pro users, we’re also opening the Coordinate app to anyone with a Google account — previously it was only available to Google Apps customers. This means more teams can use Maps Coordinate to share their locations and get jobs done.

With enhancements to the Maps Engine Pro offering and improvements to Maps Coordinate, businesses can do work with even more powerful, affordable and accessible Google Maps for Business tools. Starting today, new users can purchase Maps Engine Pro with Coordinate and existing Pro and Coordinate customers can begin using the combined app suite.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Mike Giresi, CIO of Tory Burch, the lifestyle brand known for its iconic bright colors and eclectic prints, available at 120 boutiques around the world and online at To learn more about how Tory Burch’s move to the cloud helped them build a thriving retail business, join our Hangout on Air with Mike and Google’s Head of Industry Solutions & Retail on Wednesday, August 6th.

Before opening a new Tory Burch store, we go through months of planning with as many as 200 people, with tasks ranging from hiring staff, importing custom fixtures, designing windows, and when we can, having Tory on hand to do the opening honors. Nearly all of the documentation around a store opening, like blueprints and project plans, are developed by teams, not just one person. Google Drive helps these teams collaborate on documents and make decisions faster — now we can open three stores in a single weekend, something we couldn’t have done before we moved to Google.

Every Tory Burch store needs to embody the brand, so the process requires careful coordination. The more accessible store information is, the easier it is to decide on next steps. But with our old IT system, emailing spreadsheets back and forth wasn’t enabling the speedy decision-making we need for a rapidly growing retail business. Teams couldn’t get their hands on the right information to push store development forward.

Using Google Drive lets our store-opening teams and outside partners like architects and visual designers connect and collaborate seamlessly. For each Tory Burch store, team managers can create master folders without relying on IT, making it easy for them to store and share project timelines, floor plans, and merchandise lists. With Drive, we don't have to worry about version control, which was a struggle when we shared files over email — now, we know that what's stored and shared is the true, up-to-date document.

Choosing Drive also means we won’t have to worry about storage for documents, especially as we expand the business. Purchasing our own servers and storage disks doesn’t make good business sense for us — why not simply rely on a company like Google that can scale storage much better than we can do ourselves?

We’ve got the perfect combination of fashion’s most colorful and eclectic clothing and accessories, and Tory herself to embody the brand — so we’re confident that the world is ready for many more Tory Burch stores. Google Drive has become a catalyst for our exciting growth plans.


Last month we announced Google Drive for Work, which includes advanced Drive auditing to give organizations control, security and visibility into how files are shared. This new security feature helps companies and IT managers protect confidential information and gain insights into how their employees work.

Drive audit helps IT admins view activity on documents, such as uploading and downloading files, renaming files, editing and commenting, and sharing with others. Filters make it easy to sort and find details like IP address, date range, document title and owner’s email address. To make advanced auditing reports easier to manage, admins can set up alerts for important events like files being shared outside the organization.

To help organizations derive even more value from Drive for Work, we’ve been working with partners to give you even more capabilities through the Drive Audit API:

  • Backupify protects your Google Apps data through secure, automatic, daily backup allowing IT users to easily search and restore files with advanced administrative features, safeguarding your business from data loss caused by user errors, malicious deletions, hackers, and app errors. (website, blog post)
  • BetterCloud, through their flagship cloud management and security tool, FlashPanel, has enhanced their offering through the Audit API to provide additional controls and insight. (website, blog post)
  • CloudLock, who provides a pure-cloud Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution for SaaS applications, has released a new version of CloudLock for Google Drive, leveraging the new Google Drive audit APIs, to enable large organizations to extend their enterprise security controls to the cloud. (website, blog post)
  • SkyHigh for Google Drive delivers Data Loss Prevention (DLP), mobile-to-cloud support, application auditing, data discovery, and anomaly detection without changing the Google Drive experience users love. (website, blog post)

And this is only the beginning. We invite developers and customers alike to get started with the Audit API to provide additional advanced security solutions for Google Drive. Learn more by visiting

Google is committed to enabling organizations to be successful by leveraging a large community of ISVs. One of the areas we constantly invest in is our APIs, that allow customers and ISVs to extend the functionality of the Google Apps platform. If you’d like to join our ISV community, check out For a list of ISVs supporting Google Apps, please visit the Google Apps Marketplace.


Work doesn’t just get done in the office: ideas are born and deals are closed from the patios of coffee shops, the benches of train stations and the backseats of taxi cabs. And in the summer, when the office is often the last place many of us want to be, it’s even more essential to get work done faster from anywhere — even on the way to where you’re going.

At Google, we value mobility and want to find the best way for our customers to do their work when they’re on the go. That’s why we invested in new infrastructure in Boston to support free public Wifi at South Station last year. And it’s why we're now outfitting Uber partners' cars in Philadelphia with free Wifi for the summer, compliments of Google Apps for Business. Thousands of entrepreneurs, consultants, restaurateurs and business owners now have another way to help them get work done from anywhere throughout The City of Brotherly Love.

Uber helps millions of people get around in over 41 countries globally, so they know a thing or two about working on the go. And like more than 5 million businesses around the world, they do it with the help of Google Apps for Business. Collaborative tools like Google Docs and Sheets help employees brainstorm, evaluate and prioritize new markets and promotions, while video conferencing over Hangouts keeps globally-distributed teams connected and close. It was using products like these that inspired Uber to offer this technology in Uber partners' cars in Philadelphia.

So, Philadelphia, whether you’re on the way to Wawa, the Linc, the Shore, or the office, you now have one more place to get your work done quickly so you can spend more time enjoying the summer and less time looking at the walls of your cubicle. Read more details from Uber then take uberWIFI for a spin. Benjamin Franklin would approve.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Marco Grieco, Business Innovation and Change Director at OVS, the leader in the Italian apparel market. Marco runs all major change initiatives throughout the company across supply chain, retail model and internationalization, and is currently leading the company in its move to Google Apps for Business.

Merging Italian style with international trends requires a complex process of research, design and production. The 700-person, multi-national supply team at OVS produces 180 million pieces of apparel each year, 40,000 different styles, which are then sold online and in 700 brick-and-mortar stores in Italy and abroad. There are a handful of moving pieces, to say the least, but with Google Drive, we’re able to link together the otherwise disparate parts of our retail business and share information better across the company.

Before Drive, our IT solution was old-fashioned and difficult to coordinate globally. Half of the team used one outdated IT tool, and the other half sent faxes (seriously) or exchanged e-mails: last year, our supply chain team sent five million emails. Two weeks after starting to use Drive, our email volume dropped by 40%. The transition was smooth and the benefits emerged quickly, since so many people were already familiar with Google and were excited to use it at work.

We use Drive to store and share everything product-related both inside the company and externally with our suppliers. From information about models, fabrics and sizing, to prototype images and the results of product tests, everything lives in Drive. We share and sync these files across desktops, tablets and smartphones so people have the information they need, no matter where they are or what device they’re using. Information is always updated, avoiding potential mistakes that could cause delays in our supply chain processes.

Drive is crucial for expediting our prototyping and testing process, which involves teams across the world. The prototyping team in China uses Drive to share sample image JPGs and testing kit PDFs with our team in Italy. The team in China can quickly share results and the team in Italy can request new tests if necessary — and they can all share their updates in a shared Google Sheet that’s stored and shared in the same shared folder with the rest of the assets they need, so everything — PDFs, JPGs, Sheets — can easily be found in a single place.

Drive has showed us how we can work better together and improve communication overall throughout the business, while also breaking down barriers between teams otherwise separated by tens of thousands of miles. Now, we’re rolling Drive out to our retail stores and sales associates, some of whom already started using Drive to upload and share images from their mobile phones and tablets — anything from inspirational window designs to new fashions and innovative store layouts — all without official training. We see major potential to use Drive across our business and make life easier for our employees while continuing to innovate for our customers.


Most Aussies would say that a collaborative workplace is the sort of place they want to work. Most employers want this too, because collaboration can help employees share information, come up with ideas and reduce waste.

But what exactly is collaboration, and just how valuable is it? We decided to ask Deloitte Access Economics to calculate the value of collaboration to the Australian economy.

They worked the numbers and the results amazed us. Their report, The Collaborative Economy, shows that companies that actively encourage collaboration perform better — by a lot. Companies that prioritised collaboration are:
  • Five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment
  • Twice as likely to be profitable
  • Twice as likely to outgrow competitors

But collaboration is about more than the bottom line — it’s about happier, more efficient employees.
  • Employees who collaborate are ten times more likely to be satisfied with their job
  • Over a third of respondents said collaboration helps them work faster
  • And three quarters of respondents said that collaboration improves the quality of work they produce

What’s the current value to Australia of all this collaboration? Collaborative businesses contribute $46 billion to the country’s economy. That’s more than the agricultural sector is worth. And that’s just today. If all companies made the most of opportunities for employees to collaborate, we could add a further $9.3 billion to Australia’s economy.

But today, half of Australian businesses are leaving it to chance, with no dedicated collaboration strategy. There are plenty of things Aussie businesses can do to work more collaboratively — starting with the technology they use.

This first phase of research into The Collaborative Economy is available here. And to find out how Google can help your company collaborate more, visit our website.


Editor's note: Schools bought more than 1 million Chromebooks in the second quarter of 2014. Today’s guest blogger, David Andrade, the CIO for the Bridgeport Public Schools district, which serves 23,000 students in Connecticut, shares why they selected Chromebooks. Learn more about going Google and follow our Google for Education Google+ page to see a selection of tips from David. 

When I started my role as CIO a year and a half ago, I found that our technology was not up to scratch to meet the needs of our students. We only had a few desktop PCs located in each elementary and middle school classroom, and only a few in our high school computer labs. We definitely needed more machines so students would get more time to work on class projects and do research.

Our district doesn’t have a lot of money for buying new technology, and grants can be hard to come by. Adding to our challenges, Bridgeport Public Schools are based in a working-class community with high unemployment (95% of students receive free or reduced lunches). Most students don't have access to computers outside of school and, at the time, there was a limited supply in our schools.
Bridgeport uses a variety of Chromebook models including devices from Samsung, Acer and HP. 
When the technology committee for Bridgeport Public Schools raised the idea of bringing affordable computers into our classrooms, I suggested we consider Chromebooks, coupled with Google Apps for Education. I was a fan of the Chromebook right from the start because of their affordable price and ease of use. In 2010, Google sent me one of the first Chromebooks to review on my blog, Educational Technology Guy, where I write about technology resources for teachers and students.

The affordability and easy maintenance of Chromebooks clinched the deal – we could buy three Chromebooks for the price of a single desktop computer and the district’s small IT team wouldn’t have to struggle to keep up with the repairs and updates on aging PCs. We would also save on support time and costs since Chromebooks update automatically. Initially, we bought 4,000 Chromebooks for our high schools, where every classroom now has a Chromebook for each student. At the same time, we decided to start using Google Apps for Education so every student would have an email address, something we’d never been able to do before. We also used Google Drive to move student documents off of our internal file storage system – another way to save the IT team time and money. So they can now work together and communicate with teachers even while not in the classroom.

When we received some hard-won grant money, we bought more Chromebooks, and we’re now at 9,000 district-wide. Our goal is to bring Chromebooks to every classroom in grades 4 through 12. The Chromebooks have already changed how teachers teach and students learn: there’s less “listen-to-me” lecturing, and more active student involvement in creating their own projects.

Now that we've been using Chromebooks for a while, we've been able to provide our students access to technology and take the strain off of our IT department, but what makes this truly successful is the what our students say. One of our 12th graders told me she loves that she can "take school work anywhere" or as one of our 10th graders told me, "they make it easier to hand in work and decrease your chance of failing."


Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangout from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work e-mails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today, we hear from Camille Ricketts, Editor in Chief at First Round Capital, a leading early-stage venture capital firm founded in Philadelphia with satellite offices in San Francisco and New York.

What do mega-startups Square, Uber, Warby Parker, and the unassuming town of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, have in common? One of the most influential seed-stage VC firms in the world, First Round Capital, which first started at a small office in the small suburb outside Philadelphia, has invested in them. In 2004, entrepreneur and investor Josh Kopelman set out to reinvent seed-stage funding and opened our first office in West Conshohocken. Since then, we’ve moved our headquarters to Philadelphia, grown to over 30 employees and three offices, and funded close to 400 startups. As we’ve expanded, though, we’ve consistently kept a premium on staying nimble and having a platform that both helps us work efficiently and stay connected.

Mobility, security, and accessibility are essential features when we set out to improve any process, so switching to Google Apps earlier this year seemed natural -- after nearly a decade of working with other solutions. Most of our staff members are used to using Google Apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs in their personal lives, so moving to Apps made perfect sense for the company as a whole.

Constant travel, meetings with entrepreneurs, and supporting the companies we fund demand reliability and security every step of the way. We move quickly because we’re on-call much of the time. It’s crucial to know that our e-mail is supported by Google’s infrastructure and doesn’t suffer from server downtime. Security matters are central to our efforts, as we’re handling significant investments and often working with companies that are operating in stealth mode. Our IT managers are able to easily manage access to sensitive documents — and two-step authentication adds an extra layer of much-needed security. If I leave my laptop on an airplane, it’s nice to have complete confidence that no one can access sensitive emails or documents.

With Google Hangouts, we’re able to video chat with our employees and entrepreneurs across offices, and to conduct interviews for the First Round Review -- our hub for entrepreneurial advice. Before Google Hangouts, we used used a variety of solutions with poor sound and video quality. When I only have 30 minutes to interview someone, I can’t afford to spend even five minutes worrying about whether or not the video will work.

First Round is on the move all the time serving the entrepreneurs we support, and we can’t have technology get in the way of the fast-paced nature of our work. We need technology that makes our jobs easier so we can continue helping startups build companies and products that will change the world. Sometimes we even forget we’re using Google Apps because it lets us focus on what we love to — inventing new ways to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed.


Since launching Google Earth in 2005, imagery has become a powerful tool to virtually visit almost anywhere in the world right from a computer, tablet or phone. Organizations also need this type of imagery for their business—whether they’re mapping public service projects, reviewing the environmental impacts in a region or evaluating a property.

Today, we’re launching Google Maps for Business imagery, offering businesses the chance to purchase and use Google Earth imagery for the first time. This gives them access to high-resolution aerial imagery covering the continental U.S. And it will help customers like government agencies get the imagery they need without collecting their own aerial photography.
Using Google Maps Engine, organizations can quickly obtain Google Earth imagery as soon as it’s available and share it with colleagues or customers. By relying on Google’s cloud, they can bypass traditional delivery systems, such as an FTP or disc, while also avoiding the costs of maintaining their own data centers.

Organizations using Google Maps for Business imagery can access the imagery in several ways:

  • View it on a desktop GIS system via WMS
  • Include it with your Google Maps v3 JavaScript API web application
  • Overlay it directly within Google Earth
  • View it on native mobile applications and mobile websites.

Businesses want accurate, comprehensive and useful maps, and with Google Maps for Business imagery, organizations now have better access to commercial, high-quality satellite photography. Read on or contact our sales team to learn more about Google’s commercial imagery offering.


Whether you’re driving with the top down, escaping the scorching heat by stepping into an air-conditioned building, or grilling burgers and brats with family and friends as the sun goes down — it’s clear that summer is here. And the truth is, we all have things we’d rather be doing than sitting inside an office while the summer passes us by. That got us thinking about how technology can help us spend our time more efficiently. How can we make the most of our days during these fleeting summer months?

We’re asking you — companies, colleagues and friends — to consider how technology can help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy summer even more. With tools like Google Docs and Google+ Hangouts, people can get their work done from wherever they are, from any device, so they’re not forced to watch the sun-soaked days fly by from their desks. As we continue into those long summer days, we want to celebrate the independence that technology affords. So we’ll be working with a handful of our Google Apps customers, like Uber, Thrillist and Federal Donuts, to highlight how technology can make life easier and let us do our work when on the go.

And this is just the start. We’ll continue to find more ways to help bring mobility, freedom, and fulfillment to your workplace and workday. We want you to work the way you live, which means bringing your technology from life to work — whether it’s e-mail, spreadsheets or meetings —and finding that sweet spot between work and play.

In case you’re wondering how I plan to enjoy the summer, well, let’s just say that I’ll be taking my Friday afternoon meetings via Hangouts before heading to the beach. Here’s to celebrating the spirit of summer — at work, at home and on the go.


(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform Blog)

We’ve had a great time giving you our predictions for the World Cup (check out our post before the quarter-finals and semi-finals). So far, we’ve gotten 13 of 14 games correct. But this isn't about us picking winners in World Cup soccer - it’s about what you can do with Google Cloud Platform. Now, we are open-sourcing our prediction model and packaging it up so you can do your own analysis and predictions.

We used Google Cloud Dataflow to ingest raw, touch-by-touch gameplay day from Opta for thousands of soccer matches. This data goes back to the 2006 World Cup, three years of English Barclays Premier League, two seasons of Spanish La Liga, and two seasons of U.S. MLS. We then polished the raw data into predictive statistics using Google BigQuery.

You can see BigQuery engineer Jordan Tigani (+JordanTigani) and developer advocate Felipe Hoffa (@felipehoffa) talk about how we did it in this video from Google I/O.

Our prediction for the final
It’s a narrow call, but Germany has the edge: our model gives them a 55% chance of defeating Argentina due to a number of factors. Thus far in the tournament, they’ve had better passing in the attacking half of their field, a higher number of shots (64 vs. 61) and a higher number of goals scored (17 vs. 8).

But, 55% is only a small edge. And, although we've been trumpeting our 13 of 14 record, picking winners isn't exactly the same as predicting outcomes. If you'd asked us which scenario was more likely, a 7 to 1 win for Germany against Brazil or a 0 to 1 defeat of Germany by Brazil, we wouldn't have gotten that one quite right.

(Oh, and we think Brazil has a tiny advantage in the third place game. They may have had a disappointing defeat on Tuesday, but the numbers still look good.)

But don’t take our word for it...
Now it’s your turn to take a stab at predicting. We have provided an IPython notebook that shows exactly how we built our model and used it to predict matches. We had to aggregate the data that we used, so you can't compute additional statistics from the raw data. However, for the real data geeks, you could try to see how well neural networks can predict the same data or try advanced techniques like principal components analysis. Alternatively, you can try adding your own features like player salaries or team travel distance. We've only scratched the surface, and there are lots of other approaches you can take.

You might also try simulating how the USA would have done if they had beat Belgium. Or how Germany in 2014 would fare against the unstoppable Spanish team of 2010. Or you could figure out whether the USA team is getting better by simulating the 2006 team against the 2010 and 2014 teams.

Here’s how you can do it
We’ve put everything on GitHub. You’ll find the IPython notebook containing all of the code (using pandas and statsmodels) to build the same machine learning models that we've used to predict the games so far. We've packaged it all up in a Docker container so that you can run your own Google Compute Engine instance to crunch the data. For the most up-to-date step-by-step instructions, check out the readme on GitHub.

Posted by Sara Aschheim, Media Manager, Crunch Fitness

Editor's note: Today’s post comes from Sara Aschheim, Media Manager at Crunch Fitness. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business by viewing our Maps are Going Google series.

At Crunch, we’re all about making fitness fun. From our humble beginnings in a New York City basement, to full-service gyms with signature classes like B-Method and Cycle Karaoke, we realize that staying fit doesn’t just mean having access to a treadmill. This year, we’ve already opened over 13 gyms and plan to add several more this year.

The gym industry often relies on outdoor advertising and direct mail to spread the word about its offerings, like new locations, classes, and pricing. At Crunch, we firmly believe in making sure our advertisements are relevant and targeted. With Google Maps Engine Pro, our marketing and sales departments can make smarter, data-driven decisions by visualizing business-critical data.

As someone responsible for making sure we get the most from our media investments, I can use Maps Pro to map potential outdoor advertising placements in the more than 70 cities where we’re currently located. I do this by importing an Excel spreadsheet filled with information like price, geographic coordinates, and vendor name to a Google Map. Using Maps Pro, I can customize icons so anyone can quickly glance at the map and understand exactly where the advertising opportunities lie.
We also use Maps Pro to overlay customer location data around our franchise locations. Although some customers are willing to travel across town for a particular class, it’s important to us that we make the Crunch experience as convenient as possible. We also use these maps to figure out where potential customers are located and where we should launch direct mail campaigns.

The best thing about Maps Pro is that it’s simple to use for anyone who has used Google Maps. It’s easy to share and customize our data in Google Maps, such as changing the icon of one of our club’s to include hours. This has increased our level of cross-departmental collaboration and cut down on the time typically required to implement marketing campaigns. With our previous mapping partner, we had to send maps as email attachments, creating different versions for each change, and as a result people were discouraged from collaborating.

Convenience and location play a huge role in making Crunch, one of the most popular, recognizable fitness chains today. Maps Engine Pro helps us know who our members and potential customers are, and where they are, so we can be smarter about how we communicate with them.


(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform Blog)

Kubernetes is an open source manager for Docker containers, based on Google’s years of experience using containers at Internet scale. Today, Microsoft, RedHat, IBM, Docker, Mesospehere, CoreOS and SaltStack are joining the Kubernetes community and will actively contribute to the project. Each company brings unique strengths, and together we will ensure that Kubernetes is a strong and open container management framework for any application and in any environment - whether in a private, public or hybrid cloud.

Our shared goal is to allow a broad range of developers to take advantage of container technologies. Kubernetes was built from the ground up as a lean, extensible and portable framework for managing Docker workloads. It lets customers manage their applications the way that Google manages hyper-scale applications like Search and Gmail.

Containers offer tremendous advantages for developers. Predictable deployments and simple scalability are possible because Docker packages all of a workload’s dependencies with the application. This allows for ultimate portability; you can avoid vendor lock-in and run containers in the cloud of your choice. It is just as important that the management framework has the same properties of portability and scalability, and that is what the community will bring to Kubernetes.

We look forward to the contributions of the expanded Kubernetes community:

  • Microsoft is working to ensure that Kubernetes works great in Linux environments in Azure VMs. Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft told us, “Microsoft will help contribute code to Kubernetes to enable customers to easily manage containers that can run anywhere. This will make it easier to build multi-cloud solutions including targeting Microsoft Azure.”
  • Red Hat is working to bring Kubernetes to the open hybrid cloud. Paul Cormier, President, Products and Technologies at Red Hat, told us, “Red Hat has a rich history of contributing to and maturing innovative, open source projects. Through this collaboration with Google on Kubernetes, we are contributing to the evolution of cloud computing and helping deliver the promises that container technologies offer to the open hybrid cloud.”
  • IBM is contributing code to Kubernetes and the broader Docker ecosystem to ensure that containers are enterprise-grade, and is working with the community to create an open governance model around the project.
  • Docker is delivering the full container stack that Kubernetes schedules into, and is looking to move critical capabilities upstream and align the Kubernetes framework with Libswarm.
  • CoreOS is working to ensure that Kubernetes can work seamlessly with the suite of CoreOS technologies that support cloud-native application development on any cloud.
  • Mesosphere is actively integrating Kubernetes with Mesos, making the advanced scheduling and management capabilities available to Kubernetes customers.
  • SaltStack is working to make Kubernetes a portable container automation framework that is designed for the reality of the platform-agnostic, multi-cloud world.

You can view the source and documentation for Kubernetes on GitHub. We look forward to the contributions of these companies alongside the already vibrant open source community.


Editor's note: In today’s digital age, information overload is a common problem, both in our lives and at work. That’s why forward-thinking organizations are investing in map visualization tools to help them manage and use data more effectively. Read more about the six ways Maps are Going Google.

Data is critical for businesses, helping to steer day-to-day operations as well as future strategies. But when it comes to using data at work, there’s a fine line between empowered and overwhelmed. Unless your team can analyze and interpret all the information available to them, they’re far more likely to end up on the wrong side of that line.

According to a recent study* that surveyed 300 enterprise professionals, data of all forms — internal, external, structured, and unstructured — has grown by 38 percent over the past two years. With so much information available, companies need a real-time mechanism to understand fresh data, make decisions and communicate those decisions internally.

To stay ahead of information overload, savvy business leaders, like those at BioSolar, are realizing the benefits that maps can bring. Based in Australia, the solar company’s mission is to make renewable energy affordable for the folks “down under.” But with 23 million residents spread across nearly 3 million square miles, selling and installing solar panel systems isn’t easy.

Rather than asking sales and marketing reps to pour over the data needed to identify solar candidates, BioSolar puts prospective customer information on a map. This lets the team see exactly where they need to be and who they need to target. Since deploying Google Maps, BioSolar’s total sales appointments per day have increased from 20 to 180.

Biosolar is just one company who is realizing the benefits of seeing data in context to its location. Whether reporting to senior executives or doing your own analysis, overlaying dispersed data sets on a map allows an organization to present their information in one clear picture. This lets employees gather insights more effectively and improve communications.

As a business grows, finding better ways to use data is essential. For more information about how maps can help your organization glean instant insights, sign up for our “Maps are going Google” series or read Chapter 2 now.

* Map Data@Work Study, 2014


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today we hear from Greg Hohenbrink, Enterprise IT Manager at Scotts Miracle-Gro, which provides lawn and gardening products to customers around the world.

Scotts Miracle-Gro was founded in Marysville, Ohio, in 1868 as a premium seed company. By 1940, the company reached $1 million in sales and expanded to 60 associates. Today, we have more than 10,000 associates across North America, Europe and Asia, and we sell about $2.8 billion in lawn and gardening care products and services annually. We manage the entire supply chain, from raw materials to shipping, and we’re always looking to streamline the process to become faster and more efficient as the company expands.

In 2012, we took a good, hard look at the IT department and realized that associates spent too much time managing files, folders and emails. We were using a combination of Exchange 2007 and 2010, with teams using a mix of products for cloud-based storage that made our processes disjointed and cross-team collaboration difficult. Our associates needed a platform to be efficient with documents and information. We spent a year evaluating productivity suites with an internal focus group of 100 associates. The overwhelming majority wanted Google Apps and, with help from Onix, we made the move quickly and smoothly.

We’ve seen organic adoption and satisfaction with Google Apps across the company. Most people were already familiar with Gmail, Docs and Drive, so collaboration happened naturally with teams of associates working in the same document instead of saving different versions on the server.

We’re now able to centralize our storage needs with Drive. Most teams use Docs, Slides and Sheets, while relying on Word, Excel and Powerpoint as needed. Since Drive supports all file types, we can store and share everything in one place. We’re seeing growth in adoption of the Drive desktop sync client, which lets associates drag and drop files into a folder in their home drive and have it automatically sync with Drive on the web.

With Drive, we can access all of our files and documents on the go. Recently, I was at an event and my colleague needed me to edit something immediately. I was able to find and open the file through my smartphone and address his concerns on the spot. In the past, I would have had to find a computer, VPN in, and fumble with a log-in. Thanks to Google Apps, what used to take half a day now only takes 30 minutes.

Hangouts is spreading across the organization as well. Our engineering team uses it twice a week to hold video calls with a developer in Hawaii. They also appreciate being able to share code in the same screen. Using a Chromebox in his office, our CIO holds daily standups with the Business Transformation leadership team, which makes videoconferencing quick and easy.

We’re also building applications on top of Google App Engine, which has been surprisingly easy to pick up. Our first big application was a CRM app, which we developed and rolled out with our sales force in a relatively short timeframe. With App Engine, we’re able to support this application without having to think about any of the underlying infrastructure.

For more than a century, Scotts Miracle-Gro has used innovation to help consumers create beautiful, healthy lawns and gardens. With Google Apps, we continue to find innovative ways to empower our associates to support this mission.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Justine Bienkowski, IT Team Lead at BuzzFeed, a social news and entertainment company.

BuzzFeed is a content-heavy company—from our popular list posts to in-depth news features to lifestyle surveys, GIFs and videos, we have something for everyone. As our founder, Jonah Peretti, likes to say, our publishing is a lot like a Paris cafe: you may be sitting around reading a philosophy book or something equally mentally stimulating, but if you see a cute dog under the table next to you, you’re still going to want to pet it and enjoy that interaction. People are a lot more complex and multidimensional than liking just one or the other: as with everything, a balance is important.

In order to be able to manage that steady stream of material and get that balance, we need a platform that keeps us organized and helps us collaborate (because sometimes it takes a team to collect the 40 greatest dog GIFs of all time). That’s where Google Apps comes into play.

Justine Bienkowski, IT Team Lead, Buzzfeed
Each day, our team shares, submits and receives over 400 ideas for posts, which come from our editors, our reporters, and our community, and come in all sorts of formats, from .docx, and .zip to .jpg to .mpeg. And no matter the file type or source, we use Drive to store the constant flow of material and ideas, so we can stay organized and the right people can access them from one central place. When an editor receives a proposal or piece they know is perfect for a certain group, they’ll drop it into a Drive folder and share it with the appropriate email alias.

My IT team relies on Drive to share all sorts of documents, spreadsheets and other files. I receive vendor price quotes throughout the week, typically as PDFs, which I store in a shared folder with my group so they can review and comment on them whenever they have the time. We use Drive for important work functions like setting up new hires — what equipment & software they need as well as what email aliases they need to be added to. We use Drive to keep track of inventory in the office as well, so if I need to reference a software key and compare it to an invoice, I have everything where I need it. The Drive mobile app allows me to access all my files when I’m away from my laptop, saving time and encouraging efficiency within the team; just the other night, I received an updated floor plan for our office, which I was able to pull up and approve without having to run home, find and boot up my laptop.

The Google Apps suite as a whole makes us work better and also nurtures the culture we pride ourselves on (you can probably tell from our listicles that we like to have fun—did you see what happened when a member of our edit team accidentally emailed the whole company recently?). BuzzFeed’s editorial team organized a Jorts Week celebration in honor of the revival of the mid-70s uber-short jean shorts, and employees voted for team activities and customized their jorts designs with Forms and tracked jorts sizes in Sheets. The editorial team similarly used Forms to collect submissions for our “What Secrets You Want to Tell Your Mother” feature for Mother’s Day.

From an IT perspective, another major strength of being on the Google platform is the marketplace of third-party tools that make systems management so much easier. We use FlashPanel by BetterCloud to streamline Google Apps management and add security to our Apps domain. We can prompt employees to reset passwords on a regular basis, see which third-party applications people have installed and view publicly shared Drive documents to make sure nothing is public that shouldn’t be.

With Google Drive, we have an easy, reliable way to store, manage and share all the different types of content and information we get from sources around the world. And with the full Apps suite, our editorial team can focus on publishing even more great content while my IT team can focus on giving our company the best tools for their jobs. Google helps us to turn that raw material into the amusing, provocative and quirky posts that make people laugh, cry and keep coming back for more.


Editor's note: Last week, we announced Google Drive for Worka new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Scott Crowley, SVP & Chief Information Officer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, a part of HomeServices of America, the nation’s second-largest provider of total home services.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, is the largest REALTOR® in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We’re constantly looking for competitive advantages to recruit and retain experienced agents, while also appealing to the next generation entering the workforce. Because our more than 4,000 sales associates spend most of their time on the road, all the tools need to be available on mobile phones and tablets. They need to access important information at their fingertips, whether they’re in the car, a property site or at one of our 65 offices.

A little over a year ago, we realized that not only was our technology platform lacking the mobility our workforce needed, but our sales associates and employees were not solely using the technology we provided them. They were looking elsewhere for IT solutions, forwarding work email to personal third party accounts for additional storage and using third party cloud storage providers. We needed a solution that could provide the same quality of technology tools to our users without them going outside of IT -- and knew Google Apps was the answer. After running a pilot with our IT department last July, we migrated our more than 5,000 users to the new platform throughout with winter with the help of Cloud Sherpas, our Google Apps reseller.

The move to Google has enabled us to provide our users with an all-in-one communication and collaboration platform to increase productivity and efficiency by bringing our tools together in one place, with one login. Among the additional benefits that Google Apps provides, it’s easy to use, works seamlessly with mobile devices, and offers significantly more storage space.

Google Drive allows us to share documents instead of sending attachments back and forth, making it easier for teams to work together on projects more effectively and collaborate on live documents. Not only is Drive transforming how we collaborate and collect information from around our footprint, but it also provides a great cloud backup, especially as a personal disaster recovery solution in case hardware fails or mobile devices are lost or stolen. Google Drive works for any kind of file type, not just Google Sheets, Slides and Docs — which is important in a business where we still work heavily with PDF contracts and photos for listings. Today, everything is automatically stored in the cloud for access from any device, anywhere.

We’ve been using the shared Google calendar to revamp our closing process. Instead of calling remote offices to book rooms, our coordinators can now schedule the settlement, invite all parties involved and book the room all at the same time. If the settlement gets postponed or moved, all participants are notified immediately, saving critical time and making us more efficient.

With the flexibility of Google Apps, it’s much easier for us to integrate with other systems. Via Google Sync, we can push and pull contacts directly to and from our CRM, providing our sales associates constant access to all leads as they arrive, particularly on their mobile devices. Our transaction management system allows documents to be uploaded directly from Drive, which eliminates the need for local storage and makes working from a mobile device a true advantage.

We’re constantly growing our usage of Google Apps products. Our IT department uses Hangouts to help diagnose problems for remote staff, allowing them to resolve issues faster and provide better support. Later this year, we plan to use a combination of Google+ and Sites to replace our existing Sharepoint based intranet.

With Google, we get a technology partner, not just a vendor. We receive several updates a month, instead of waiting for bi-annual releases, each providing new innovative functionality to our company. No one asks
“what version of Google apps are you running” -- everything is up to date without IT intervention. Our sales associates and employees now have the ability to work and communicate in one platform, making the entire company more efficient, integrated, and successful.