With the right technology, you can actually transform people’s behavior. Take the case of fitness devices. As they track and give feedback on our activity levels, the phenomenon of behavioral awareness kicks in: knowing how we’re performing can inspire us to take the stairs over the elevator. Organizations are even creating incentives for employees to take better care of themselves.1

It’s the same in business. We start with a desire for change; technology shifts our behavior to render it reality. Transitioning to the cloud helps companies boost operational efficiency and cost savings. So it’s no surprise that the business world is embracing the cloud and everything it has to offer.

We’re guessing that moving your company’s tools to the cloud is probably on your to-do list already, but it can be an intimidating leap for IT managers to implement change. Google for Work has been supporting Fortune 500, small-to-medium businesses and educational institutions in the cloud for over ten years, and we’ve seen cloud adoption go from cutting-edge to mainstream. As cloud technology becomes more and more intuitive, and users naturally more savvy, implementing change is getting easier and easier for IT.

Still, you’d probably like to know a little more before you take the leap to the cloud, right?

In this white paper, we’ll examine the benefits of cloud-based collaboration tools, how to prove the cost savings and value-add to your board, and what lies “under the hood” for the IT manager with some of our best practices for integration, migration and change management.

Read on to learn more.

Journey to Google cloud

Why change, now?

Cloud-based technology is no longer for the progressive few, and those who choose to stay out of the cloud risk getting left behind.

The cloud as competitive advantage

report commissioned from Deloitte revealed some crucial insights for companies weighing a move to the cloud: organizations using the cloud grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable than organizations that do not. And we’re not just talking about startups; 79% of relatively mature companies—those older than 5 years, growing at less than 10% per year—believe in cloud technology as a way to gain access and exposure to new markets and revenue streams.

85% of all small-to-medium businesses are already using cloud technology. 66% are regularly outperforming their competitors as a result.

Deloitte image quote Businesses using cloud and mobile tools grow 26% annually

For companies working with demanding business partners in a fast-moving marketplace, having the right tools is essential to building a culture of efficiency, collaboration and security.

Still, how do we choose the tools that won’t just solve our business challenges today, but allow us to anticipate tomorrow’s needs and adapt for the future? And how to handle the risks inherent in big change?

Versatile. Scalable. Affordable. This is what the cloud is made for.

4 great reasons to go to the cloud

  • Operational efficiency
  • Reliable expertise of security champions
  • Efficient and productive collaboration
  • Mobility access across devices

Familiar tools inspire better adoption

IT and business leaders today are grappling with the ever-increasing use of personal devices and unauthorized apps at the office, often referred to as “Shadow IT.”

This rapidly emerging trend comes as a natural response to employees looking for ways to create and collaborate with the same ease, efficiency and freedom that they do in their everyday lives. While the rise of Shadow IT can pose numerous security risks to companies, it also offers unique opportunities for businesses to rethink their traditional tools and processes in ways that both support productivity and innovation while minimizing risk.

For IT professionals charged with making the decisions that will inspire employee adoption and influence their companies’ trajectories, the choices are daunting. Expensive, complex systems might dazzle with their capability promises, but users prefer simple and familiar apps.

This is one of the reasons Google Apps for Work has seen incredible momentum. It’s familiar. And it works.

Last time we checked:

  • More than two million paying organizations are actively using Google Apps, including companies like The New York Times, Salesforce, Roche, Whirlpool, Veolia, Air Liquide and BBVA.
  • More than 1,800 customers sign up for Google Drive for Work every week.
  • There are more than 900M active Gmail users.
  • 60% of Fortune 500s use Google for Work.

Tools like Gmail and Google Docs have other benefits too—staff are familiar with these tools from their personal lives, and when given a choice, 73% of our employees voted to use Google Apps.

—Ernest L. Cu, President and CEO, Globe Telecom

Read more

Two employees collaborating

Collaboration: just good business

Some special magic happens when two people put their heads together. Ideas are sparked, creativity flows, solutions manifest.

Organizations agree that the level of collaboration between employees and teams has huge impact on company growth. In fact, in a study Google conducted with Raconteur surveying senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies, more than half ranked collaboration-related measures as the #1 thing they’d do to increase profitability.

73% of respondents believe that their organization would be more successful if employees had the tools to work in a more flexible and collaborative way.

Raconteur image quote 73 percent say more flexibility for employees would increase company success

Collaboration applies to every corner of business, from planning to project management, from R&D to business development. Yet, when handled incorrectly, collaboration can quickly devolve into a laborious cycle of back-and-forth emails as teams wait for input and signoff from various players. When we talk about collaboration, what we’re really talking about is more efficient collaboration.

By giving our teams the right tools to collaborate, we’re helping them to create and compete in new ways. With Google Apps tools, our teams are more engaged, productive and mobile. And we’re adding more value for our clients, at a faster pace, as a result.

—Deborah Bothun, U.S. Entertainment, Media and Communications Leader, PwC

Deborah Bothun, U.S. Entertainment, Media and Communications Leader, PwC

Watch Deborah Bothun’s interview

The business case for the board

By now, everyone can agree that collaboration and mobility positively impact day-to-day work. But when faced with a move to cloud-based apps, your board will probably have questions about the cost, value and security of Google Apps. You need real numbers and tangible facts to make a case for Google Apps, and we have them here.

Conference room

Affordability combined with high value

Why invest in multiple, complex systems when efficient tools, easy to manage and easy to use, are all you really need? SoftWatch’s survey recently unveiled that the average worker spends 4 minutes a day in Word, 10 minutes a day in Excel, and 1 minute a day in PowerPoint. As companies get larger, individual usage goes down even more.

Obviously you don’t want to pay a premium for tools people don’t need. Google Apps’ straightforward $5 or $10 per-user per-month pricing gives you access to email, file storage and sharing, video conferencing, calendars, docs and more. And Google Apps are compatible with Office files. You pay as you grow, and there’s no hardware to purchase or software to update.

Our priority has been to pick tools that can transform our business, and for this we rely on Google Apps for Work. Moving from Microsoft Exchange saved us 50% in IT costs alone.

—Tom Percival, Co-founder, graze.com

Read more about graze’s story

Cost savings and value-add

Google commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study to answer the question “Just how much value do Google Apps for Work customers get?”

By examining six of Google’s current customers over a three-year period, Forrester created an example composite organization representative of the typical Google Apps customer experience. Within this organization, employees streamlined their business processes by working together in real time using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides; created project collaboration spaces in Google Sites; and accessed and shared files in Google Drive.

Here are some of the highlights of what this composite company achieved using Google Apps:

  • Return on investment of 304% over 3 years
  • Risk adjusted benefit of $1,708 per user
  • Payback period of 1 month
  • Saved each employee up to 2 hours a week
Forrester risk adjusted benefit of 170800 per 100 employees

Google Apps also created a positive environment for employees, one where they could work together to innovate and improve business performance, no matter where they were in the world.

When I did a cost and benefit analysis, it was clear we needed to move to the cloud. We discovered that Microsoft Office 365 would cost about 13 times more for us than Google Apps.

—Jim Nielsen, Manager of Enterprise Technology Architecture and Planning, Shaw Industries

Google’s data center

Built for scale, security and privacy

Google Apps for Work was built as a 100% cloud-based solution from the very start, leveraging the same cloud infrastructure that allows Google to return billions of search results in milliseconds, serve 6 billion hours of YouTube video per month, and provide storage for 900 million Gmail users and services to more than 5 million businesses who have chosen Google Apps for Work.

[Google's] ability to build, organize and operate a huge network of servers and fiber-optic cables with an efficiency and speed that rocks physics on its heels … This is what makes Google Google: its physical network, its thousands of fiber miles, and those many thousands of servers that, in aggregate, add up to the mother of all clouds.

WIRED Magazine

Making security a priority

Google employs more than 500 full-time engineers—including some of the world’s biggest security experts—to protect customer data. And all of our data centers have received ISO 270110 certification.

But it’s not just about Google being more secure; we give you the tools so you can be more secure. We’ve recently launched many security enhancements, including Information Rights Management (IRM), custom audit alerts, new sharing controls, Password Alert, new password recovery options, Whitelisted Domain sharing, increased email security and compliance with attachment scanning and file type detection and the Security Key. We also make sure we and our partners are always here when you need us, offering you the right support, 24/7.

Trust Google Apps for Work

What about privacy?

Google Apps customers own their data, not Google. The data that companies, schools and students put into Google’s systems is theirs; Google does not sell this data to third parties. We offer a detailed Data Processing Amendment to elaborate on this commitment.

Read more about how Google protects your data or watch a short video.

Integration, migration and a world of possibilities

Every company has its own industry-specific technical requirements and tools, and you’ve probably worked pretty hard to build the solutions you’re already using. Do you have to scrap them and start over? Not at all.

Google Apps has the flexibility to integrate the systems that are already working for you with new cloud-based tools. Leveraging our apps and partners, you can customize a solution that perfectly blends the best of what you already have with the benefits of the cloud—completing the puzzle.

Integration with your existing infrastructure

You want better functionality without losing any existing data or capabilities. We get it. Google Apps can seamlessly replace or add on to your current solutions.

For instance, if Microsoft’s Office® Suite has been the backbone of your productivity until now, you are probably wondering how it will integrate with Google Apps. Our partners and teams have a proven methodology for this.

Easy, secure email migration

This is often a big question for companies looking to move to the cloud. If you’re using Microsoft Exchange servers now, we have the tools to migrate your email system to Gmail in a stress-free way that won’t mean lost data or a big installation production. Check the best practices.

Migrating everyone’s email was a huge deal. We didn’t want to go live with Google Apps with a crowd of users asking, ‘Where are my emails?’ Using Directory Sync and Password Sync for Google Apps—along with GAMME to pull mail data from Microsoft Exchange—this was the easiest data migration ever.

—Tyler Woodworth, IT Manager, Earls Restaurants

Microsoft Office interoperability

Some collaborators within your organization may still be using Microsoft Office files. Not a problem with Google Apps. They can edit, download and convert Office files in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

To edit an Office file, they can either:

  • Edit the file using Office Compatibility Mode (OCM)
  • Convert the file to Google Docs, Sheets or Slides
  • Use Google Drive Plug-In for Microsoft Office: Open Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents stored in Drive, and save changes back to Drive (Windows)

Once they've edited a Google Docs, Sheets or Slides file, you can then save and export it as an Office file to share with others. Read more

A thriving ecosystem

Good collaboration solutions don’t exist in a vacuum; they are part of a rich ecosystem that extends way beyond the Google domain. To help you thrive in that ecosystem, we have a library of closely vetted third-party apps that sync tightly with Google Apps, we work closely with key enterprise partners to ensure compatibility, and we offer a robust Google Drive API.

Extend your apps with Google Apps Marketplace

Hundreds of third-party apps integrate directly with Google Apps—like BetterCloud, which automates management of your domain, and LucidChart, which helps you create beautiful diagrams within Drive.

Google Apps Marketplace enables administrators and employees to find applications to help them get work done. From Asana (a team-management tool) to Zapier (a way to connect apps you use and automate tasks), you can find the right app to solve your organization’s needs.

Screenshot of Google Apps Marketplace landing page

Integrate Google Apps with your other apps and workflows using APIs

We have integration with key enterprise partners like SAP and Salesforce, and partners like AODocs to help migrate legacy SharePoint repositories to Google Apps, while preserving all the custom document properties, permissions and version history.

The Google Drive API lets you sync data from your app directly with users’ Google Drive accounts. And our REST APIs let your app work with users’ mail, calendars, contacts and other data. Our rich API capabilities help you keep your typical workflow intact. Read more

Employees working on their laptops

Migration best practices

We’ve seen a lot of companies migrate to our cloud-based apps, and we can recommend experienced partners to help you integrate Google Apps with your legacy infrastructure and guide you in best practices.

In our experience, the most successful deployments consist of three phases:

Phase 1: Core IT gives your IT team about 4 weeks to become familiar with the features before actual data migration occurs.

Phase 2: Early Adopters (5-10% of your company, representing a broad cross-section of roles and office locations) begin data migration.

Phase 3: Global Go-Live aka “The Big Day.”

During each phase, you’ll progressively configure more Google Apps features, migrate more data over from your legacy system and progressively move users to Google Apps.

What about change management?

Kim Wylie, Global Lead, Change Management, Google for Work, has several tips for making change happen:

Kim Wylie, Global Lead, Change Management, Google for Work

Watch Kim Wylie share her top tips.

  • Engage with one of our partner experts who can ensure a smooth transition. Our partners are intimate and adept with Google’s transformation methodology and they can maximize the value your organization will get from a switch to the cloud.
  • Encourage your leaders to lead by example, making sure they’re using the new technology right up front and embracing the power of collaboration that it brings.
  • Create an engaging and fun communication plan that will explain the details of the move to Google Apps for Work and exactly what benefits the employees are going to see.
  • Understand the profile of your employees so you can train them on how they can best use Google Apps to collaborate with each other, customers and vendors in new and more efficient ways.

Motorola Solutions moved its entire workforce of 17,000 employees, and about 5,000 contractors and vendors, to Google for Work. The company set up drop-in training centers in the cafeteria. IT staff worked the help desk for two days. And 1,000 staffers trained beforehand to help ease the process for others, wore bright orange shirts and tied orange balloons to their cubicles so they were easy to spot.

—CIO.com, How Motorola Solutions (and its 22,000 workers) ditched Microsoft for Google

Conclusion

So there you have it. With Google’s cloud collaboration tools, your organization can shuffle yesterday’s installations, upgrades and patches out the door. By integrating features that all your users can tap into on their devices, anywhere, collaboration and productivity become the normal everyday experience companywide.

Google Apps for Work experienced team and partners will help you make your journey to the cloud a positive one.


  1. Source: goo.gl/vvVma0
  2. Deloitte, “Small business, big technology: How the cloud enables rapid growth in SMBs,” September 2014
  3. Ibid.
  4. Google and Raconteur, “Working better together: A study of collaboration and innovation in the workplace,” June 20, 2015. goo.gl/aA6EXc
  5. Ibid.
  6. SoftWatch Benchmark, “SoftWatch Benchmark: Real Usage of MS Office Applications,” April 2014
  7. g.co/Appseconomicimpact
  8. goo.gl/FBPX1l
  9. Reference: Google Apps for Work blog, security and compliance section. http://goo.gl/uIshpD
  • Author
    Veronique Lafargue, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Google for Work

  • Topics
    Collaboration, Google Apps, Migration

  • Roles
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  • Industries
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