A discussion on Triiibes got me thinking about the Google Apps experience.
We have used Google Apps from its earliest days. The decision to move was borne out of the need to realign resources. There was a need to upgrade the hardware on which our mail server was running etc plus it was anticipated that there might be a need to buy more Client Access Licenses etc. In parallel, investments in Apple Macbooks etc were increasing. Here are some observations on how things have evolved.
Using Google Apps internally
- Resource deployments were managed easily plus backup management was not really required.
- We did not need to invest in Blackberry services for colleagues that were traveling. Instead Nokia phones and the web interface was what we used initially. Subsequently the Gmail app came along.
- All though it started as a “mail service”, but soon enough colleagues were using the Calender Interface.
- The Sites tool has been used extensively by us to manage documentation on projects and notes.
- Google Docs usage has been sporadic and person dependent.
- The user interface of multiple windows opening for documents etc and different applications creates a clutter of windows and tabs that needs to be simplified.
- Contacts and the way it can be used with say Address books on PCs or Mobiles is something that we are beginning to address in a slightly more cohesive manner now.
- What one finds rather strange is that Google Docs open only in a read only mode if using the mobile. One would imagine that if the mail can open, surely they could have created some ability to take notes on the go, on a mobile.
- Some of us have also taken the MobileMe service to manage images, documents and contacts etc. Any sync is done via the laptops.
- It would not have been a bad idea if they had also provided an integrated Picasa service control though.
- Most of the colleagues on Windows have preferred to stay on Firefox rather than move to chrome when using Google Apps.
- Most of us have commented on the starkness of the interface.
Suggesting Google Apps to Friends or Clients
- Google Apps though has been suggested to clients too.
- Google Apps mail makes a lot of sense when in a retail or franchise environment where branded email can be provided to partners at a fairly limited cost and with management headaches down to a bare minimum. Infact while we are not a Google Apps service provider, we have suggested to clients to setup this service and they have been able to do so fairly quickly. However the concern that some clients have is. How much does google know if they use their email service.
- We again used Google Apps, but more specifically google sites, to manage the workflow and teams of a clients web project which included a lot of partners, external users and internal client team. The setup for the entire workflow was done over a weekend of work and another 1 day spent on training etc.
- Recently in a discussion with an Education Service Client, the Google Apps approach to infra as a sort of a freemium method was found to be very appealing. The idea that one could setup customised though simple lesson plans and other related aspects and that too relative quickly and then minimise failure impact was very appealing.
- The awareness of Google Apps seems rather low in our country. The education that Google Apps requires a different way of working and can achieve most if not all of moderate requirements is something to be focused on.
- If you are an entrepreneur or setting up your business, consider evaluating Google Apps or Zoho.
What are your observations about Google Apps or Zoho? I am keen to keen to exchange notes on these and answer any questions you may have.