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Why Google Apps is winning IT hearts and minds

Jon Gold | March 20, 2014
Google's cloudy productivity package is making inroads everywhere – including many Microsoft Office shops.

In contrast, Google Apps was designed with ease of use in mind what's more, it has improved since 2007, Keitt says. People are taking another look, due in large part to Google's productivity offerings reaching a threshold of usability for the enterprise.

It's crucial for organizations making the jump to Google Apps to look before they leap, of course. According to the co-founder and CTO of Synergize, a Toronto startup that offers training software for new Google Apps users, being organized is crucial.

"The No.1 thing to know when switching to Google Apps is having an effective change management plan," says Majid Manzarpour. "You want to make sure you are covering your communication and rollout strategy effectively, and have a solid training plan and post deployment strategy for handling ongoing changes made to Google Apps."

Manzarpour cites educational institutions as being among the most enthusiastic adopters of Google Apps unsurprising given that Google's special version of the service for schools is offered free of charge. At College of the Holy Cross, a small, exclusive undergraduate college in Worcester, Mass., the initial decision was driven by a need to replace a somewhat ad hoc email infrastructure.

"Our solution at the time was this sort of mix of open-source tools, for an email gateway security solution, and that worked sometimes and didn't work other times," says the school's information security officer, David Shettler.

Holy Cross has been a Google Apps user since 2011, having started by porting the roughly 3,000 student body to Gmail, and began transitioning faculty and staff a year later.

"It was a long process smooth in the sense that we got through it with very few complaints, and everyone got to retain their email," says Shettler. "We were a bit surprised that the impact was relatively low."

That's atypical, according to Forrester's Keitt. "For a lot of organizations, the level of disruption associated with going Google' in the workforce creates problems - just human disinclination to change, presents a lot of those problems," he says. "Then there's the fact that it just doesn't operate the same as Outlook or Exchange, and the integrations aren't the same."

While a new email setup was the main idea behind the switch for Holy Cross, Shettler says that many other parts of Google Apps are "fantastic."

"The collaboration stuff is great we're seeing an increased usage of it. People didn't understand it at first it's not Word, so there's a learning curve," Shettler says.

Part of the reason the switch went relatively smoothly, he adds, is that Holy Cross didn't completely rip-and-replace where its productivity software is concerned. The school is still a Microsoft customer, partially because Google Docs, according to Shettler, still doesn't match up well against Office.


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