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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Toryburch.com. 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.

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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 developers.google.com.

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 developers.google.com. For a list of ISVs supporting Google Apps, please visit the Google Apps Marketplace.

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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.

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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.


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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.