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Partner for Productivity

Partnering for G Suite Productivity

Partner for ProductivityG Suite is more than an email, calendar, and simple file sharing service.  G Suite is a productivity suite that serves as a platform for a range of tools that helps your team, and your business, work more effectively.

9 ways your team can be more productive with G Suite:

  1. Share Files, Not Copies:
    Stop sending attachments. Stop wasting time figuring out of the copy of the file in you inbox, on your local drive, or on a shared folder is the most current. Whether you use Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations or you continuing using Microsoft Office, Google Drive and Team Drives serves your files rather than just sharing them.  People share via link, so all comments, suggestions, and edits are made within a single copy of the file. Versioning keeps this orderly and gives you the ability to look back and compare.
  2. Serve Files, Not File Servers:
    Use Team Drives and Drive File Stream to provide users with “explorer” access to files from Macs, PCs, and local software. Store files under central ownership and managed permissions; avoid performance and capacity problems with unlimited storage. Allow team members to work remotely and securely on computers, tablets, and mobile devices without VPNs and remote desktop services slowing things down.
  3. Communicate, Don’t Just Text:
    Most laptops now have microphones, speakers, and Bluetooth features similar to your smartphones and tablets. Have face to face conversations using Hangouts Meet instead of long email threads, phone tag, or text messaging. Communication is 55% non-verbal. Let you employees see and hear each other, your vendors, and your customers. You can share screens to live document reviews and discussions. Why pay extra for a conferencing service?
  4. Collaboration, Don’t Just Comment:
    True, Google Docs allow contributors to comment and suggest edits. You can also collaborate in real-time or as each participant is able. Version history lets you look back at who contributed, when, and where. You can name versions to track official revisions or specific working copies of documents.
  5. Schedule Productivity, Not Just Appointments:
    Your personal and shared calendars track your time as well as project or team activities. Resource calendars let you book rooms or any scheduled resource. Integrated with Hangout Meets, automatically include voice and video conferencing for the human touch. Integrated with Chrome for Meetings and you have 1-click video conferencing with screen sharing in your conference rooms.
  6. Manage Customer Relationships, Not Data:
    Integrated CRM applications, automatically pull person and company data into your CRM records and automatically track inbound and outbound emails with your prospects. Side panel gives you “pane of glass” access and context from within your Gmail inbox.
  7. Manage Communications, Not Data:
    Integrated sales and marketing tools, empower you team to better manage marketing, sales, and service communications without leaving your Gmail inbox.  Templates, mail merge, and tracking save time and energy as you drive your sales pipeline forward.
  8. Automate Tasks, Not People:
    Automate workflows and repetitive tasks, and build simple apps to boost productivity with AppMaker. The Low-code/no-code tool means you don’t need a cadre of programmers. Free up task time for more valuable activities.
  9. Protect Your Business; Not Just Data:
    Compliant archiving and e-discovery covers your email communications and your documents. Integrated solutions provide third party backup/recovery protection from accidental or intentional damage and loss. Cloud-to-cloud backup is less costly and requires less admin effort than traditional file server protection services.

Get the most value from your G Suite platform:

  • Verify you are on the right version of G Suite, with the capabilities that best meet your needs
  • Help your team learn how to use the G Suite apps to their fullest
  • Integrate 3rd party solutions for line of business needs, such as marketing, sales, and service

Please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor session to discuss getting the most value from G Suite.


 

Google Drive

Team Drives Launches for G Suite Business, Enterprise, & Education

Google DriveMost file storage solutions weren’t built to handle the explosion of files that are now created and shared in the cloud — because they were initially designed for individuals, not teams. With this amount of shared data, admins need more controls to keep their data safe and teams need to feel confident working together. Team Drives deliver the security, structure and ease-of-use enterprises need by making it easy to:

  • Add new team members. You can manage team members individually or with Google Groups and give them instant access to relevant Team Drives.
  • Keep track of your files if a team member leaves. Team Drives are jointly owned by the team, which means that anything added to Team Drives stays there no matter who comes or goes. Whirlpool Corporation, for example, uses Team Drives to manage file access. Says Troy McKim, Collaboration Principle at Whirlpool Corporation, “If you place files for a project in Team Drives, you don’t have to worry about losing them or moving them when files are re-owned.”
  • Understand and manage sharing permissions. Team members automatically see the same files regardless of who adds or reorganizes them. You can also manage share permissions by defining the restrictions for editing, commenting, reorganizing or deleting files.
  • Manage and view Team Drives as an admin. Admins can see Team Drives for a user and add new members if necessary: “Team Drives also ease the speed at which a team member can onboard and become effective in their new role,” says McKim.

Team Drives are now generally available to all of our G Suite Business, Education, and Enterprise customers.

Fast Fact

Fast Fact Friday: Messaging & Collaboration Apps Win!

Fast FactAccording to a recent study of 1,500 HR, sales, and marketing executives commissioned by Adobe, Inc. magazine reports that:

More than half of the professionals surveyed (57 %) said mobile apps for messaging and collaboration are critical to their organizations’ success, and a similar number of respondents (59%) said such apps will continue to be critical in 2019.

Is your mobile strategy up to the task?  Contact us for a free Cloud Advisory session.

G Suite

G Suite: Advancing Beyond Google Apps

G SuiteFor the third time in three years, Google has rebranded its business solutions. As we scramble to update our websites and marketing materials, we can reflect on the change and what it means for our customers and those considering Google Cloud and G Suite solutions.

More than a Reflection of Rapid Change

On the surface, the rebranding of Google for Work as Google Cloud and the renaming of Google Apps for Work to G Suite reflect the rapidly changing cloud computing market. Looking deeper, however, the change reflects some fundamental shifts. G Suite is not just a “for work” platform. Over the past two years, Google has consolidated education, nonprofit, and government environments onto a single platform with their business customers. A single G Suite infrastructure now meets the rigorous security and operational requirements of each market.

The change also reflects a shift from infrastructure and apps to a focus on improving how we work and innovate to build stronger businesses and organizations. The emphasis is no longer on the technical features and functions, but how your organization can work better for better results. This focus will extend beyond the core G Suite applications to include third party applications that integrate with the G Suite and Google Cloud platforms.

New Name; Same Services? Not Really!

Within the marketing flurry is the message that Google Cloud and G Suite are new names for the same great services. This may be the case for now, but looking forward, you can already see two significant trends.

AI Integration: In the G Suite Announcement, Google mentioned intelligent applications and provided a link to a second post titled: G Suite: Intelligent Tools for Teams. Take note: Google intends to embed Artificial Intelligence into the G Suite apps and tools in order to provide a more intuitive, productive, customized experience.

A New Baseline: Google Apps for Work is now G Suite BasicGoogle Apps Unlimited is now G Suite Business. This change is as subtle as it is powerful. Where GAU was positioned as an upgrade to the GAFW service, G Suite Business is clearly positioned as the default option, with G Suite Basic positioned as a lower-cost, less functional alternative.

We can predict that we will see more features and capabilities appear in G Suite Business than we do in G Suite Basic (this differentiation is already visible with additional reporting and APIs). This differentiation will lead to a more robust ecosystem with G Suite Business.  Third party applications that integrate with G Suite, with access to a richer interface, will offer more capabilities when running with G Suite Business.  In short, G Suite Business will offer the greater value to most small and midsize organizations.

Looking Forward

Expect to see more announcements about intelligent features being added to G Suite applications. Expect more opportunities to integrate business processes and applications with G Suite — from CRM and customer service to custom line of business applications and systems. Expect G Suite Business to provide greater value as it will further enable application, system, and data integration. Expect new possibilities and opportunities.


Might G Suite Business be right for you? Contact us for a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor Session.


 

Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Cloud is All or Nothing

Office365-Logo-and-textCloud computing is too often touted as the Holy Grail and the absolute future of information technology and services. The term “cloud computing” is overused to the point that most small and midsize business (SMB) decision makers remain confused about which products and services are actually “cloud”.  With the hype and confusion, comes the misperception and fear that moving your business to the cloud is an all-or-nothing decision.

Nearly All Cloud Implementations Start with a Hybrid Approach.

While diving into the deep end can be fun, you are safer and will have more fun if you first learn how to swim. We recommend that you start by moving specific applications or “workloads” to the cloud in a way that integrates with the rest of your systems and services.

For many, the first splash comes from email, calendars, and contacts. Moving from Exchange/Outlook to Office 365 gives you first-hand experience with the convenience, reliability, simplified management, and mobile accessibility of cloud solutions. We will include flotation devices, such as advanced spam/virus protection, email archiving/ediscovery, and encryption services to make sure you comply with regulations and policies. With unlimited support, you have a life raft to ensure your team will swim, not sink.

Your second swim is where the business value of cloud begins to grow. You improve your ability to collaborate, with additional communication tools and file sharing services. With tools ranging from Skype for Business and OneDrive to Sharepoint and Planner, you can streamline businesses processes. Your team learns to work together more efficiently.

Future swims quickly compound the business value of your cloud services, as you move business processes and applications.  The focus is to simplify your IT while improving the way you work. You can scale your resources to meet your needs, without big capital projects and without wasting your existing investments.

Start by defining your business goals and objectives, using these to drive your IT and information services priorities. From there, we can create a roadmap to the cloud that is pragmatic, effective, and affordable.


Looking to create or update your cloud strategy? Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor session to review your goals and create a roadmap.


This is the fourth of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.


Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Office 365 is not just Office “Online”

Office 365Even with the growing adoption, many still see Microsoft Office 365 as “Office in the Cloud”.

In fact, Office 365 is an entirely different suite of services.  Yes, Office 365 Business Premium and Enterprise licenses include the MS Office apps we know and use — Outlook, Work, Excel, Powerpoint, and more.  But Office 365 is not just a suite of productivity tools.

Microsoft Office 365 is a business communication, collaboration, and information management ecosystem.

Office 365 licenses can include:

  • OneNote – Multimedia note taking from any platform
  • SharePoint – Collaboration platform for file sharing, intranets, document management, workflows, and information management
  • OneDrive – Personal and shared file storage
  • Skype for Business – Voice, secure IM, video meetings, and presence management
  • Yammer – Social collaboration for business
  • Power BI – Wizard driven business analytics
  • Sway – Web 2.0 publishing to tell your story
  • Planner – Project and task management

As important as the suite of tools, Office 365 can change the way your team works together.  With your data secure and in the cloud, you share information rather than attaching files to endless chains of emails. Your team has the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, from nearly any device. Your people are connected because the data and information they use is connected.

So if you haven’t moved into the cloud, stop thinking of Office 365 as hosted email and some apps. Start thinking about how you want to improve your business. Then use Office 365 to make it happen.

Already on Office 365 and feel like you’re not using it to its fullest potential? Ask us about our adoption and engagement programs.


This is the first of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


 

Google Drive

Not Using Google Drive? You Are Not Alone

google-drive-icon
CIO Magazine recently published a report claiming that 80% of Google for Work customers with more than 1,000 users are not utilizing Google Drive. The statistic is based on whether or not users worked with Drive at least once per month. This is disappointing given that studies show the powerful benefits realized when the collaborative features of Drive are fully utilized.

While the report does not discuss why Drive adoption is low, we have our suspicions.

Peer-to-peer file services do not scale — not without some help

In Drive (and oneDrive and other cloud file services), users create their own folders and share them with individual and teams. Each user “owns” their space and their files and to find a file, it helps to know who shared it with you. And, without central management, naming conventions, and other controls, it is difficult to control and manage access to sensitive information.  While these file services are not as challenging as Windows for Workgroups (circa 1992), they come pretty darn close.  Users familiar with a central file structure are easily frustrated with peer-to-peer sharing and file services.

“Security” is confused with “Sharing”

Yes, Google recently announced that Ernst & Young has verified the ISO 27018 cloud privacy standard for Google Drive. But when users think of security, they are concerned about sharing — or permissions — of their files. In any cloud file service, it can be difficult to fully understand who will have access to the file you are creating or uploading.  And, the nuances of Google Drive can take time to learn.

For example, when sharing a link for a Google Doc with a person that does not currently have permissions, you are prompted to allow anybody with the link to view (or comment, or edit) the document. If your intended recipient forwards the message, access is available to others outside your original intention.

In Drive, and other similar services, the relationship between exposure (who can see, view, edit the file with or without credentials) and explicit access permissions has a learning curve that is often overlooked.  People will avoid using Drive if they are worried about exposure and permissions.

The rules are a bit different

Google Drive is more flexible, and in many respects more powerful, than traditional Windows and Linux file shares. This power, however, can be distracting to end users. Having multiple documents with identical names in a folder, for example, throws many for a loop. It’s not intuitive given their experience and it can create confusion as to which document is correct or current.

Using Drive and other cloud file services is different, but you can take steps to ease the transition and improve adoption.

Train Your Users: 

Beyond the basic “clicks and drags” of Google Drive, help your users learn and understand how to use Drive effectively. Cover permission settings so they understand how to share safely and with confidence. Discuss document naming and version management, including how to upload new versions of documents without creating duplicates. Help them learn now to navigate drive, use the search bar effectively, and launch applications from within the web interface.

Create a Managed File Service:

With an affordable add-on, you can overlay a more traditional file server structure onto Google Drive. Tools like AODocs File Server, you can add the aspects of a traditional file server to Drive:

  • Central ownership and control of space, top level folders, and folder hierarchies
  • Distributed access and permissions from a central authority
  • Conversion of personal to central ownership of files uploaded to, or created, within centrally managed libraries
  • Inherited permissions
  • Audit trails

Yes, there is a cost, but the value for many companies is much greater.

Manage Your Permissions:

Permissions are not just about user settings.  Permissions should — and can — be driven by your privacy needs and the content of your documents. Tools like BetterCloud and CloudLock give you the ability to monitor and manage user access and permissions based on business rules and content as it is created or uploaded. Analysis for HIPAA, PHI, PCI, and other compliance requirements is built-in, with the ability to create customized rules for your specific needs.

 

With the right tools, and a knowledgeable workforce, you and your team will better adopt and utilize Drive.  And with adoption, comes results.


Please Contact Us if you would like information about any of the services mentioned in this post.


 

Drive Sales Enablement In Your Business by Leveraging the Cloud

Sales.Enablement
It’s not news that the environment in which your sales team operates is changing dramatically. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human; that means your sales team will need to be more efficient with their prospects and be empowered to deliver the right information at the right time.

And they’re not the only ones dealing with changes. CFOs are no longer dealing only with financial reporting, compliance and cost control. According to a recent study by BI company, Adaptive Insights, “By driving a culture of agile, data-driven decision making throughout a company, CFOs can help create a significant competitive advantage.” CFOs are more plugged into data than ever, and that is pushing entire organizations to adopt technologies and practices that support this.

Sales teams and their support systems are no different. With all the changes empowered customers are presenting sales teams, it’s more important than ever to know what tools and techniques will really work to help your sales team operate more productively, spending less time on non-productive administrative functions, and more time with delivering value and closing deals.

Sales Enablement

A key focus of discussion in how mid-sized businesses are addressing this change has been sales enablement. It’s widely agreed that sales enablement is constantly evolving, and there’s been plenty written about it to-date with multiple interpretations and definitions of just what it means to organizations. We prefer the definition that spun out of IDC a few years back:

Sales enablement is “getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”

So let’s break down sales enablement into its individual components, and see how your sales team might address each aspect by leveraging cloud-based technologies to make them faster, more efficient, and more responsive to your existing—and future—clients’ needs.

Getting the right information…

How often has your salesperson been sitting down with a prospect, and they’ve had to respond to a request with the words, “I don’t have that, but I can get it to you when I get back to my (room, office, house)”? Often, sales people don’t have exactly what they need right when they need it. Perhaps it’s a PDF of a sell sheet they forgot at the last minute. Maybe it’s the contract is MS Word format, and they can’t edit it in the moment. Or, it could be a performance report showing how much more competitive your solution will help your prospect become. Depending on who you talk to, approximately 40% of sales go to the company that responds to your prospect first.

Imagine empowering your sales teams to get the right information in the hands of their prospect—right when they need it.

No need to return to the office and email a document. No need to leave, make a change to a contract, and delay signing (or worse) losing momentum. Better yet—being able to access proprietary and competitive information in the moment it’s needed to close the sale. Having your sales team plugged into and empowered by the cloud can really help them get the right information to those who need it.  

To the right sellers…

Who’s to say that your salesperson is the one that’s going to move the next big deal through the next phase of the pipeline? A seller might be a customer service rep who’s helping your existing customer with an issue and has an opportunity to upsell them on your services. Anyone in your organization has an opportunity—given the chance—to sell to new and existing accounts.

In this scenario, having your data and collaboration tools in the cloud allows for a few things:

  1. Real-time communication. With cloud-based tools and apps, if a customer service rep is on the phone with a customer, they can instant message another employee to help solve a problem or meet a need.Or, imagine for a moment that you’re closing a deal without an engineer on hand to answer a critical question. With cloud-based communication, on-demand video conferencing brings the engineer into your meeting.
  2. Real-time collaboration. With the ability to upload, store, and access documents in the cloud, multiple users in different locations (or even right next to each other) can now comment and update documents in real time. The ability for a salesperson to update a proposal during a meeting, while project teams are on-hand to review, is a true game changer for many organizations.
  3. Assisted information and context. Cloud-based solutions allow you to bring all your tools and data together in one place. For example, in a properly implemented Google Apps or Office 365 cloud solution, you’re able to do a number of things that aren’t possible with on premise solutions:
    1. With email, you can see your current chain, as well as other recent conversations with that person.
    2. When you’re searching for material and information on a particular topic (for example, a client or engagement), you’re able to search emails AND documents stored online.
    3. With cloud integration, you can view social and business content alongside the email you are responding to or the voicemail transcript you are reading, providing context to conversations.

All of these combine to empower sales teams and other employees when they’re in a position of adding value to prospects and existing accounts.

At the right time…

It’s 8:00 AM in Boston, and your top sales team is getting ready to deliver that huge financial pitch over breakfast in the CEO’s conference room. Based on a late night email from the prospective customer, they realize that they need information from another presentation — but it’s 5:00 AM in your Los Angeles office and no one’s home. Fortunately, with the cloud, your team can remotely and securely access your file services, update the document, and be ready to go without batting an eyelash.

And place…

VPN has long been the go to for providing employees remote access to company assets. Everyone has a story about trying to work remotely and having to deal with VPN issues. These go away almost entirely when dealing with the cloud.

In the right format…

We’re all pretty familiar with having our email and calendars on our phones now. But today, we have full editing suites that include document editing, presentation development, and spreadsheet tools available on mobile phones and tablets. The ability to work directly in the environment, with the necessary tools, in the application preferred by a prospect, is invaluable to a sales person. No more looking at a printed page or pdf on your phone and waiting until you get back to the office to make changes. With the cloud, you make critical changes right on the spot.

To move the opportunity forward

If your sales team isn’t focusing on moving opportunities to the next stage (closing), then they aren’t being productive. Research by Innoppl Technologies shows that 65% of sales reps who have adopted mobile CRM (cloud-based) have achieved their sales quotas, while only 22% of reps using non-mobile CRM have reached the same targets.

What are key components of the cloud that drive enablement?

Three of the ways that the cloud can enable your sales team:

  • Assistive Information: the ability for your salespeople to access related information and context, in real time, while on the phone or responding to emails.
  • Mobility: true integration of mobile and remote users into your environment (or, no more VPN!).
  • Personal Communication Modes: We operate in a time when 3 or 4 generations of people work on the same team. Preferred communication methods vary wildly. Cloud-based communications help bridge the gap between those that prefer face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, and texts.

One final bonus

Once you’re in the cloud, the cost of making incremental improvements goes down. There’s no need to invest in expensive software to see if it works with your sales team. You can begin implementing trial versions and adding incremental features to see what sticks and what adds value to your business.

Do you have a sales team that is mobile, but struggling to respond quickly to prospect demands because they’re ultimately tethered to a desk? What opportunities do you see in your organization for mobile solutions? Think it might be time to switch?

If you are not sure, take our Quick Cloud Readiness Assessment.  It’s only 10 questions and will tell you in less than five minutes whether your organization is ready for the change.


 

News from Cumulus Global

Working the Way You Live

Our own Bill Seybolt was featured on the Main Stage at the Launch Out 2015 conference in Nashville, TN. View his entertaining take on working remotely, below.

 


Interested in working remotely or on the go? Contact us about the tools that make it easy.

5 Ways Google Apps Will Help Your Business

 

Not just an email service, Google Apps is a business platform that enables efficiency and productivity by giving your team better communication and collaboration tools.

In less than 12 minutes, Cumulus Global’s CEO Allen Falcon identifies 5 ways that Google Apps will help your business.

1) Improved Communications

2) Collaboration — More and Better

3) Secure Access — from anywhere at anytime

4) Business Continuity

5) Lower Operating Costs — instead of CapEx + OpEx 

The video is a recording of Allen’s Standing Room Only seminar at the Central Mass Business Expo in September 2014.  Click Here to view the recording and contact us for more information and a free assessment of your business’ cloud potential.