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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.


 

Drive File Stream

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Drive File StreamLast month, Google (finally) released Drive File Stream. Unlike the Drive Sync Client it replaces, Drive File Stream provides “mapped drive” access to files in Drive. In doing so, you can browse, search, and use Drive like you would any mapped drive through Windows File Explorer and Finder on Macs. By mapping and using a cache, you have access to all of your Drive contents without having to sync all of your content to your device. While you can still select files and folders to sync for offline access, the Drive File Client gives you and your local applications access to your files in Drive.

The Real Value is with Team Drives

As a second improvement over Drive Sync Client, Drive File Stream connects you to both your “My Drive” and “Team Drive” hierarchies. The integration with Team drives, in particular, adds specific value. Team Drives provide file sharing hierarchies that include many traits of a traditional file serves. With Team Drives, the system owns the space and administrators centrally manage permissions. You can grant members of Team Drives limited administrative rights and you can control which members can view, comment, and edit files and folders. Permissions are hierarchical with inheritance pushing permissions down to subfolders and files.

Combining Team Drives and Drive File Stream gives you a “file server like” experiences. You use your local apps, browsing and searching for files in Explorer or Finder. You open, work with, and save files like you do for local files and files on traditional file servers. You manage permission by Team Drive and your folder hierarchy. And while you do not have all of the granularity with Team Drives as you do with a Windows File Server, for example, you have enough to build a managed file service. Because of the differences in permissions granularity, you are more likely to have more Team Drives than you might have top level folders on a traditional file server.

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Combining Team Drives and Google File Stream does not give you all of the features and functions of a traditional file server. By creating a managed file service, however, you do have the power to manage access and use of your data and information. And better than a traditional file server, your managed file service will server the needs of user with local, traditional applications and those working in the cloud.


Best Practice: Plan your team memberships and permission, hierarchies, and management strategies before you start building your Managed File Service using Team Drives and Drive File Stream. Contact us for a Cloud Advisory session to discuss your needs and project.


 

Which Cloud? Let Your “Line of Business” Apps Be Your Guide

Should your CRM, ERP, or Warehousing system guide which email service you use? Yes, and here’s why …

Many SMBs think of Office 365 and G Suite (formerly Google Apps) as an email service or collaboration tools for emails, files, and chats. Both Office 365 and G Suite are, however, collaboration suites focused on individual and team productivity. Once in place, your productivity cloud becomes the cornerstone of your cloud services and your IT ecosystem.

In deciding which cloud, your line of business systems should guide your decision. Whether you choose Office 365 or G Suite, your productivity cloud will provide the platform that your line of business systems will use to present information and that you will use to view, share, and analyze data.

Born in the cloud, G Suite is built on a cloud-centric philosophy that promotes the use and integration of cloud (ie, SaaS) business apps.  G Suite does not include CRM, project/task management, data analysis apps, or other tools.  With G Suite the expectation is that you will use the capabilities of Google Cloud Platform, other Google services, or third party apps to meet these needs.  The G Suite model centers on your picking “best of breed” or “best fit” cloud-based solutions.

While Office 365 integrates with dozens, of third party, the Office 365 philosophy is to provide an integrated suite of solutions.  Delve, Power BI, Planner, Sway, and Teams are all examples of value-add solutions that Microsoft includes in the Office 365 suite to go beyond basic communication and collaboration.  With the addition of Dynamics 365, you have many line of business, data analysis, and planning functions covered without looking to third party apps.

Where Do Your Line of Business Apps Fit in the Decision Matrix?

If your Line of Business (LoB) systems run on premise with MS SQL Server Database, will run hybrid on-premise and in-cloud, or will continue to run in a Microsoft ecosystem, Office 365 comes with the ability to connect business intelligence, data analysis, reporting, and communications tools directly to your systems.

If you are running, or moving to SaaS-based systems for LoB solutions, your business intelligence, data analysis, and reporting solutions will likely be cloud solutions as well. G Suite provides and ecosystem for pulling these together in a manner.

Both Office 365 and G Suite integrate with on-premise and hybrid cloud solutions.  Both work with many third party solutions.  But Office 365 and G Suite each have their own strengths and philosophies. While you should not be limited by your current infrastructure, the nature of your current and planned LoB systems should, therefore, be an important factor when you decide which cloud is right for you.


For a better sense of which cloud is right for you, get a free assessment and consulting session by completing our Productivity Cloud Questionnaire. The survey takes 30-40 minutes to complete. We will respond with an analysis and recommendations report, and a free Cloud Advisor session to review our findings.

Culture Clash: Office 365 and G Suite

IT preferences can feel like religion. Mac vs PC. Linux vs Windows, iOS vs Android. The same holds true with cloud services. The historical presence of MS Office in our daily work lives makes moving to G Suite feel more like a radical shift than moving to Office 365. And while there is something to be said for familiarity, the way we’ve always done things is not necessary the best way to do them, or the way we should be doing them in the future.

Our work environments are changing from structure and hierarchy to collaboration and teams.

The productivity tools we pick should foster and support the way your team wants to work rather than forcing your team into structures and processes that can stifle innovation, initiative, and productivity.

Both Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite give you the tools to help your team collaborate and thrive. The approaches, however, differ.

The Microsoft Angle

For about two years, Microsoft has focused on “cloud first; mobile first” as its strategy and mantra. The evolution of Office 365 and Azure demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment and enthusiasm for the collaboration economy.

But Microsoft is about rapid evolution, not revolution. Microsoft understand that you have legacy systems and data — from MS Office documents to line-of-business systems — that you cannot replace all at once.  One of the strengths of Office 365 is the ability to integrate the service with existing servers, applications, and data. In doing so, new capabilities work not only with cloud-based systems and data, but with your existing IT systems and services.

Microsoft’s cloud-first strategy is clearly to expand the capability of Office 365, but let you access your on-premise systems and data. Case in point: Power BI.  Power BI is a user-driven data analytics tool in Office 365 that is not part of the MS Office suite.  Power BI lets you connect and include data from Excel, SQL Server, Dynamics, and hundreds of other sources — on premise and in the cloud.

The Google Angle

Google has always been cloud-first — some might say cloud-only — in its strategy.  Yes, G Suite integrates with your local Windows network and with your desktop MS Office suite. But the real power of G Suite is the innate design around collaboration and peer connectivity. Every app — and nearly every feature — supports real time collaboration.  The apps within G Suite are designed to be efficient and “lighter weight” than other productivity suites, focusing on the functionality used by 80-90% of users and relying on third party solutions for the rest.

G Suite assumes, if not expects, you to use third party applications and solutions to build out your capabilities. Google focuses on integration with third parties as much, if not more, than adding major apps and functionality to G Suite. Need a CRM system? Take your pick from dozens of solutions ranging from major players like Salesforce.com and Prosperworks to niche and vertical market solutions like Bullhorn. Need a task management solution? Hive, Smartsheets, and many others are ripe for the picking.

Google’s cloud strategy is clearly to provide a core productivity platform and to empower organizations to pick “best fit” and “best of breed” cloud (SaaS) solutions to fill broader needs and provide line of business functionality.

Culture Clash

Even with a Cloud-First strategy, Microsoft focuses on including and providing a broad range of apps and solution within the Windows/Office365/Azure ecosystem. Yes, Microsoft fosters relationships and integrates with other cloud solutions and apps. Microsoft also integrates with legacy, on-premise systems. Google’s culture is more “all in cloud”. Yes, you can integrate MS Office.  Yes, you can connect to on-premise systems. But your productivity suite will work best when you integrate with third party SaaS solutions.

Which solution — Office 365 and G Suite — is right for you depends on where you are and where you want to go as an organization. The decision is as much about culture, line of business apps, mobility, and other factors as it is about Outlook vs Gmail.  When deciding which cloud, look forward and measure your decision against goals, objectives, and the long term strategy for your business as well as your IT.

 


For more discussion of factors to consider when deciding which cloud is best for your business, check out our recent eBook, Picking Your Productivity Cloud.

News from Cumulus Global

Picking the Right Productivity Cloud: Look Beyond Familiarity and Cost

News from Cumulus GlobalWestborough, MA — It is no longer a matter of “if”, but “when” small and midsize businesses will move to the cloud. For most SMBs, the first decision they make will be on which productivity cloud to use– MS Office 365 or Google G Suite. As noted in Cumulus Global’s most recent eBook, Picking Your Productivity Cloud, SMBs are wise to consider more than familiarity and cost when making this decision.

“SMBs that rely on inertia and simply go with the cloud ecosystem that is most familiar often find themselves hitting roadblocks or underutilizing the service over time,” note Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon. “Picking the right cloud for email and productivity tools becomes the foundation of your cloud ecosystem. A broader perspective is needed.”

Picking Your Productivity Cloud looks at six critical factors to consider when choosing between Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.  Beyond cost, the eBook discusses the impact of other IT systems and applications, company culture, and business goals. The ebook is available for free in our Resource Center Library.

G Suite

G Suite Business Upgrade Promo

G SuiteEvery once in awhile, we have a unique opportunity to offer substantial savings on cloud services.  To celebrate the rebranding of Google Apps as G Suite, we are authorized to offer small and midsize businesses significant discounts if they upgrade from G Suite Basic (Google Apps for Work) to G Suite Premium (Google Apps Unlimited).

2 Great Promotions

Learn more ...

Learn more …

18 Months for the price of 12, a 33% savings*

To qualify for this promotion, you must …

  • Be a current customer running G Suite Basic with between 10 and 99 user accounts
  • Be on our annual prepaid or monthly flex plans
  • Upgrade before December 12, 2016
  • Contact us and let us know you want the savings

15 Months for the price of 12, a 20% savings

To qualify for this promotion, you must …

  • Be a current customer running G Suite Basic with 100 or more user accounts
  • Be on the monthly flex plan
  • Upgrade before December 20, 2016
  • Contact us and let us know you want the savings

Why G Suite Business?

  • Unlimited Gmail and Drive Storage
  • Email Archiving, eDiscovery, DLP for simple legal compliance
  • Advanced reports and admin alerts for better usage visibility
  • “Org” unit controls to adjust access and sharing rights by department
  • THE platform for new features, such as Team Drives and AI/machine learning enabled services

 

Interested? Contact us for info and a quote.

 


*Important Details: The 18 for 12 promotion ends on December 12, 2016; and we need to complete your upgrade by December 15, 2016.  The 15 for 12 promotion ends on December 20, 2016; and we need to complete your upgrade by December 31, 2016.  Monthly Flex Plan customers will see a discounted monthly invoice; Annual Plan customers will see an prorated charge and a credit for the unused portion of your current term.

 

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.


 

G Suite

Google Cloud and G Suite

G SuiteNew Names, Same Great Solutions

At this point, every Google For Work customer has likely received an email from Google with the big announcement:

Google for Work is now Google Cloud

Google Apps is now G Suite

Why the change?

Google’s has greatly expanded the range of cloud-based business services over the past few years, and the ways in which businesses are using Google’s cloud portfolio continues to change and evolve. Google Cloud better reflects how all of Google’s business cloud services are part of a single, integrated ecosystem. Changing Google Apps to G Suite, better represents the range of services that lets you communicate, store, collaborate, and manage your business. G Suite has grown beyond “Gmail and tools for business”.

What does it mean?

Your Google Cloud services, including G Suite, do not change. You will continue to use the same email, file, and collaboration services you know and love. You still have the features, security, accessibility, and ease-of-use you expect.

We will spend the next several days updating our website and marketing materials and remembering to use the new names.

What does the future hold?

Looking forward, we encourage you to explore more ways to take advantage of G Suite‘s capabilities and to watch for new applications, features, and functions. Google’s commitment to expanding the platform and ecosystem is greater than ever. If you want to explore new use cases or to further your digital transformation, please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor consulting session.


 

 

Yahoo Mistreats Customers

Verizon Acquires Yahoo! — Trouble for Business Subscribers?

Yahoo SignWith Verizon’s acquisition of the Yahoo! core business services underway, subscribers to Aabaco Small Business — the business email solution from Yahoo! — face uncertain times. While there is no indication of what Verizon may do with the Aabaco Small Business services, the focus of the Verizon acquisition is clearly Yahoo! services that Verizon can roll into its upstart digital media business.  As reported by The Wall Street Journal and others, Verizon is acquiring Yahoo! for the content and audience.  Business email and ecommerce services are clearly not top of mind.

Priced from $34.95 to $119.40 per year, Aabaco’s email service is as a basic webmail solution. The service includes spam/virus protection, filtering, and forwarding, although the web interface is simple and the service only supports POP email clients (no IMAP service). The service does not include calendar, IM/Chat, video calling services, file storage, and other services typically found in more robust email and communication suites.

Many Aabaco customers may choose to wait and see how the acquisition plays out and, therefore, how long they can continue to get support and service on an aging platform that lacks competitive features.

For many others, the acquisition is a great time to explore other solutions for cloud-based services. Both Google for Work and Microsoft Office 365 expand upon basic email services with robust communication and collaboration features and tools, and both integrate with a variety of marketing and ecommerce platforms.

For those with Aabaco websites and ecommerce service subscriptions, exploring Shopify, ProStores, and others may offer more robust, modern, and cost-effective solutions. The migration, however, is more complex as it involves multiple services.

We recommend that Aabaco subscribers begin looking at alternatives.  Whether or not you make a change now or in the future, understanding your options along with the relevant merits and costs, empowers you to make better decisions. You can also be ready to make your move if/when the time is right.


Are you an Aabaco customer interested in exploring alternatives?  Offering both Google for Work and Microsoft Cloud solutions, our Cloud Advisors can provide you with an unbiased assessment of your options. Contact us for a free consultation.