Lots of folks are switching to Google Business Apps
I was updating our support ticket system tonight and I noticed we had 4 clients who were migrating from their old e-mail accounts to Google Business Apps. This seems to have become a common occurrence for many of our clients in 2012. We also took the plunge to use Google Business Apps in early 2012 and like many of our clients we are very happy with the move.
The Microsoft Era
For many years I had personally used Microsoft Outlook and then Windows Mail before we decided to move to Google. Being a person that is online 12-15 hours every day I burn thru a laptop every 2 or so years – and most of the time my old e-mails had been lost (when my laptop died) or in some cases I just didn’t want spend time moving old e-mail to my new laptop. I also had some challenges with Outlook when we travelled in particular having to setup different outgoing mail servers or using POP Account web mail – which did not always sync up with my Outlook account (or my mobile device). The need to have a more robust solution became more apparent as we travelled more and operated our business in a more mobile and on the go environment (that many small businesses operate in today).
So what is Google Business Apps?
Basically it revolves around the Google’s Business e-mail service, which also comes with some other great corporate communication tools that really help small business (and big business) operate efficiently within the Cloud. Note this is not gmail which many people think is the same thing. When you use gmail, your e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. With Google Business Apps you get to use your own domain name while enjoying the features that gmail offers. Google Business Apps also offers a calendar as well as Google Docs (which are the 3 items we use primarily) to help manage our business. Google offers both a standard and premier version (the premier version has a $5.00 per user monthly fee). We are using the premier version so my primary experience is using that service. Google business mail has great archiving features as well as excellent spam blocking (and caching).
Great for remote employees or remote office locations!
Google Business Apps is domain specific which really helps you to use this tool with your company team mates. Accounts are setup with an e-mail account for each team member that needs a full e-mail account. Cost is going to be a consideration when you have a large team at $5.00 per user e-mail account – but forwarding accounts and e-mail groups and lists have no additional charge. The Bear Web Design team is located in several remote offices (including Melbourne, Australia) so it is nice that the whole team’s e-mail is in one account and easily managed. We can also share our contacts within our team – (although I must state that the current tools to do this are still improving and there are new solutions still being offered in this area). We can share our calendars so that at any time a member of my team can verify another team member’s schedule as well as book them for important dates. I must say one of the nicest features is the contacts sync with my Blackberry. When I am on the go that is a very handy feature, and connecting your mobile device is so much easier than setting a pop account. When I e-mail someone from my Blackberry a copy of that e-mail goes to my Google Mail so I am completely in sync with e-mail at all times.
Document Sharing is Impressive!
One of the nice features of Google Business Apps is the Document Management and Sharing. Again for a remote location this is a great tool. You can share documents with all your team members and also anyone else that has a google based e-mail (that includes personal gmail). For a lot of small organizations and not for profits this is a great way to be able to improve remote communications. Microsoft and Google have shown some great team work in this case with a product called “Google Cloud Connect” that allows you to share a Microsoft based product (Word, Excel, Publisher, Powerpoint) with a team member – that keeps that document in sync (that means only one copy of the document).
Sharing and managing documents has never been easier!
And even more impressive is the fact that you can share the document at the Microsoft level. In this case – I am typing my weekly blog in Word (and due to a complete lack of writing skills which you would never be aware of!) I am sharing this document with Our Design & Development Director who will clean it up a little before I post this as a blog article online. She will receive a notification that the document has been shared with her – she will be able to open it and make the appropriate changes and then will save the document (and let me know the document has been updated).
The next time I open the document it will sync up automatically with these changes – so I will now have the latest and greatest document (and will then post my blog and look like a literary hero!!!)…
Unfortunately, Cloud Connect does not work with Macs (which to my knowledge is due to Macs’ focus on their own iCloud product.) In this case – hats to off to Microsoft and Google for working together – and hopefully Macs will be compatible in the future.
So Who’s Now Using Google Business Apps???
Recently in discussing Google Business Apps with our Mt. Juliet Holiday Inn Express Owner and Client (Justin Patel) he informed me that over 6,000 HI Express employees world wide were switching to Google Business Apps (Not surprisingly we are working on Justin’s Google Business Apps Account right now!!). In my hometown of Melbourne, Australia, the largest Newspaper (The Age – Fairfax Media) has just announced moving their 10,000 employees world wide to Google Business Apps (from the traditional Microsoft Platform).
A Good Option for Small Business!
Comparing Google Business Apps to traditional Pop Accounts (which generally come with most hosting account) it is clearly a superior service. Many folks believe the hosting of website and e-mail have to be tied together which is simply not the case (the host generally manages the DNS – domain name server – which can point to e-mail services anywhere.) Over the last 18 months Google Business Apps have become a clear leader in business email. It is now a viable and proven option – and definitely a good option for small business!