Google For Work: Confessions of an Early Adopter

I volunteered to be an early adopter for our Google for work pilot in August of 2016. I was already familiar with the Google Suite, storing my personal documents on Google Drive; hangouts with friends, creating blog posts on docs and planning my dinner parties on sheets. As a technology and social media geek, I was eager to participate in this new initiative.

For those of you who may be wondering how Google could be a contender to replace the Microsoft Office suite, well the truth is, they have a very interesting business model that is more attuned to how we use mobile.

Microsoft offers a basic suite of applications; typically (Outlook, Calendar, Word, Excel and PowerPoint). This is the foundation for how the vast majority of us work.  For those who need other applications like MS Project or MS Visio, etc. programs must be bought through a licensing fee and added to the suite through an IT professional. Alternatively enterprise licenses can be purchased and charged to the company based on the number of employees. Microsoft created a fantastic mini-monopoly for business using their applications.

Google at work is a significant departure from the traditional Microsoft model. In a nutshell, it provides users the same experience as using it for personal use. Taking head on the notion that people have better technology at home than they do at work.  Along with the basic processing functionalities, G Suite leverages the cloud and provides communication and collaboration tools that truly enable virtual work.

GSuite

One of the key differences with Google Suite, is basic functionality can be supplemented through 3rd party app add-ons. This is very similar to how we use mobile. Our smart phone is a series of apps that enable us to execute key transactions. We create an app ecosystem to enable our work.  Docs and Sheets for example; require add on’s to really make them effective. This allows the user to pick the relevant apps as add-ons instead of being limited to the application. This allows competition for the right price and service.  Another key difference is mobile offerings are solid and mature.

Microsoft has responded to Google’s service offering by introducing Office 365. You get all the familiar tools of Office with the addition of partnered collaboration such as Skype and One Drive for cloud. I did briefly use this suite at a previous employer. The service offering is quite different from Google, but the change aspects are significantly lower. The mobile offering on Office 365 in my opinion is still immature.

Our Google at work pilot lasted several months and then we were officially transitioned at the end of 2016. As an early adopter it’s now been a year since I transitioned. The switch was not seamless and had a number of challenges. I will say that I love many of the features that GSuite offers, such as Google Drive, the flexibility of accessing and opening google documents on my phone, collaborating on documents without having to save multiple versions and of course, video calling my colleagues! I used MS Outlook for the majority of my professional career and I don’t miss it. I’ll be honest and say I’m still struggling with mastering Doc’s, Sheets and Slides, but I’m committed to making this work.

The underpinning for success is to get people to think differently about this new way of working. I wanted to share some suggestions/ recommendations for those contemplating or are in the process of moving to Google for work:

  • Change management is critical for success. Besides executive sponsorship, employees need to understand GSuite is a different way of working. For example, shared drives will be replaced with Google Drives which provides a different way of sharing, accessing and collaborating on documents. Time and effort need to be invested in getting people to focus on the new way of working and not trying to replicate MS Office processes/ functionality through Google. Back to my consulting days, replicating old processes on new technology will not yield any value.
  • Application Mapping is essential to increase user adoption. While Google has work processing apps such as Sheets, Docs and Slides, they very immature in the capabilities they offer compared with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Users need to understand how they can get the same output using the GSuite tools. So if I build and run marcos in Excel, I need to know how can I replicate that same output using Sheets. This was a huge gap for many of our business segments as they felt they were losing key functionality through the move. Document and the areas of concern and work with the business areas to build assurances they can get what they need with the new products.

GoogleProducts

  • Identify add on’s and supplements as part of your general release (GA). For people who never used Outlook (I’m thinking of your Millennials and Gen Z’ers), it may be easy to transition onto Gmail for work. For the vast majority of employees, functions such as listening to voicemail via your messages or setting reminders for follow ups have become a main staple that impacts productivity. It’s worth the time to identify the “must haves” and deploy the appropriate labs or add on’s so users are minimally impacted. This goes a long way to minimize the change. Consider offering Google Sync as an initial step to move off network drives.
  • Continuously educate. Transformation is not easy. Replacing something as significant as a Microsoft office suite with a Google suite is going to have some casualties and a lot of noise! You will have a subset of users who refuse to change. Who cannot grasp something new. Who will constantly complain. On the other side, early adopters, those looking for new solutions will be willing to live with trade-offs. Tools and education need to be provided to help users bridge the gap from old to new. Forums for feedback are important in the change strategy. More important is offering continuous training on the core applications. I’m a huge proponent of self-service, but for things as big as this, I would recommend having experts deliver training using a hangout or classroom. Users will feel more confident if there is on-going training/ resources available to help them combat their day to day gaps in using new tools.
  • Ensure you have the necessary hardware: Prior to using GSuite, we didn’t have video calling capability. Most of our employees sit out in the open and may have desktops. When Google was deployed, we offered training via hangouts but didn’t give people headsets for video calls. Most people couldn’t participate and you can imagine what impression this left. It was a scramble to order hardware (headsets and cameras) for people to truly leverage the new technology. This had to be built into our on-boarding provisioning process as well. Ensure you think about the hardware logistics for maximize initial usage.
  • Promote the mobile offering. Google has a mature, sophisticated mobile platform. The GSuite works easily and seamlessly on mobile. Users on the go or work from home will love this flexibility.

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Google for Work is another example of providing an alternative business models that’s disrupting the conventional way we do business. We’ve seen this time and time again (Taxi industry and Uber; Online vs. print media; Hotels vs. Airbnb, etc.). Not only has this benefited the consumer by providing alternative solutions, but it forced Microsoft to deliver a competitive offering with Office 365.

I hope your move is successful. I would love to hear how your transition went.

Like what you see? Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter @annzaliebarrett, or subscribe to my blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

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2016: The Transformational Employee Talent Profile

I would categorize the 2010’s as the decade of transformation. In 2015 we continued to see organizations execute strategies to “transform” their business to increase revenue and lower operating costs.

Uber was also in the spotlight in 2015. It’s a great example of a business that used technology to evolve the traditional taxi service model. Despite protests, public opinion and demand have resulted increased market share for Uber, eroding the existing taxi monopoly. The lesson is companies can’t afford to be complacent or behind the times with technology.

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For many organizations the transformation journey has been challenging. Strategically, culturally and operationally, the end state requires employees to abandon the “old ways” and become more agile, adaptive, innovative and insightful. The diagram below shows a few examples of what the transformation has looked like for many organizations.

transformation

As employers re-tool their workforce, they’ve also realized they need to attract and retain talent that can sustain the new workplace. As change becomes more rapid it will be too expensive for employers to continue to downsize and attract new talent as strategies change.

This means HR will need to re-think about how they define success profiles, or what I call the Talent Profile of the Transformation Employee. After transformation, the workforce promotes change; talent is fluid and able to move into different roles as the business grows and changes. Instead of traditional recruitment practices that focus on screening for specialized job knowledge, the focus shift to screening on for behaviours, attitudes and the willingness to embrace and promote change. Employees would learn the specialized knowledge they needed to enable them to move into other roles. Research shows it’s easier to learning something new than it is to change behaviours[1].

Employers are also under pressure to deliver a work environment that will attract and retain the transformational employee they seek. The greater the match between the successful talent profile and the employer’s value proposition the greater probability the employee will stay.

transformation_profile

2016 will be a pivotal year for talent in the workforce. More than 3.6 million baby boomers will retire this year[2]. It will also be the first year Gen Z graduates will enter the workforce[3]. More digitally advanced in technology and open to trying new things than Millennials, they will seek jobs that match their technology and work-life style needs. In 2016, Millennials will comprise the same percentage of the workplace demographic as Gen x’ers. As we approach the end of the decade, Millennials will comprise 50% of the workforce; with Gen Z comprising 20%[4].

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Millennials in the workforce- Source: [Footnote 5]

Companies such as Uber, Airbnb and Task Rabbit will continue to compete attract candidates with offers of C2C entrepreneurial and flexible work arrangements.

genz

Gen Z – Source: [Footnote 6]

As we begin 2016, I wish each of you a wonderful happy, healthy and prosperous new year. May your transformation experiences be successful!

I’d love to hear about some of your transformation stories. Please share them with me on LinkedIn or twitter@AnnzalieBarrett on Twitter.

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[1] http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/28781/learning-change-behavior
[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/11/01/10-workplace-trends-for-2016/
[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/11/01/10-workplace-trends-for-2016/
[4] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8280-generation-z-workplace.html
[5] https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace.pdf
[6] https://www.visioncritical.com/generation-z-infographics

Is Technology an Enabler or a Driver?

When I first started in the field of eRecruitment the use of technology to automate forms and processes was still formsrelatively new. If you’re thinking that was back in the 80’s or 90’s you would still be in the wrong decade. As late as the early 2000’s many companies were only using technology to enable job applications, on-line form completion and on-line pay statement reviews. Technology was regarded as an enabler to complete and facilitate processes, drive efficiency and reduce costs and administration. Organizations drove articulating specifications on how technology could enable process automation.

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It’s September 2013. As I write this blog post I am in Tokyo, Japan; one of the most technologically connected and forward thinking countries

in the world. My older iPad feels like a clunky machine compared to the smaller, thinner more sophisticated  smart phones, tablets and cameras they are using. Everything here is done by technology, from animation to toilets. As I look at people on the train engrossed in their smart phones playing games, texting social networking, taking pictures, etc. it occurs to me technology has evolved to become a driver changing the way people interact and use it. You may say isn’t technology still acting as an enabler, allowing us to execute processes such as texting and gaming? My rebuttal would be, technology has become a  driver because we are adapting to it.

My example is a simple, yet powerful one that shows how technology influenced us to adapt to it.  It’s called apps. When Apple imagesCAGEOSCElaunched the iPhone back in 2007, the concept of using third-party applications (apps) to present subsequent social networking programs and shop (iTunes) was a new and innovative concept. I would categorize it as a driver because most consumers didn’t even know they wanted it until it became available. Once people started using it, adapting to the new presentation and functionality, the demand was almost insatiable. Every company wanted to develop their own app to reach consumers to drive business. Today every mobile vendor offers apps as a standard operating feature of their phones and/or tablets. Consumers have been driven to use apps which has actually changed the way we interact with technology.

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Technology is driving change. Organizations need to re-think about how they can realize its value in the marketplace. Resistance to its adoption has clear downstream bottom line impacts. Take consumers opinion on the recent bid to acquire Blackberry by Fairfax Financial. Public opinion revealed many perceived Blackberry was too slow to adopt new features onto their mobile platform which other companies such as Samsung capitalized on. The result was decreased consumer consumption and market share.

How does this impact recruitment?

Organizations also need to recognize the significance technology is playing in the attraction and retention of talent.

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For example, we know that the usage of mobile devices will continue to grow as the primary way people access the internet and information. We  can infer the absence of a mobile strategy will exclude larger percentages of the population interacting with your brand. As social networking tools become a more dominant way to learn about employers, interact with them and read reviews on what others say about them, recruitment and talent functions will need to embrace these tools as a relevant and meaningful ways to engage and communicate.

If your organization isn’t doing it, your competitor will.

Is Resistance to Social Media @ Work Futile?

SEO Manager, Community Manager, Mobile App. Developer, Virtual Lead Generator and Recruitment Optimization Specialist. Most of these jobs were unheard of ten years ago. The high rates of user adoption on social media platforms have created new jobs to support technological development and new ways of working. Traditional jobs have also evolved as social tools permeate into our day to day work. Companies have realized they need to embrace social as part of their overarching strategy in order to remain competitive in the market. Resistance to social media may not only hinder company performance, but can widen the skill gap between you and your competition in the job market.

Don’t believe me?

Selling-Through-Social-Media-to-Close-More-Leads-InsideviewLet’s take a look at sales as an example. Traditionally sales people spent a significant amount of time cold calling and cultivating relationships to build their client base. There were limited ways of tracking information, let alone mapping out connections. Social media has revolutionized the approach to lead generation. Virtual networks help sales people identify, learn and connect with potential and existing clients by showing recent activity, new connections, job updates, people movements, status updates, etc. The savvy salesperson uses social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) to market themselves, and research people they want to get in touch with before making a call. The picture above shows the correlation between social media usage and increased lead generation.

Traditional Approach                                       Savvy Approach

  • Blind cold calling to generate leads      Uses social to research leads/ introductions
  • Relies on paper                                      Leverages mobile to get information on the go
  • Manually track clients                            Leverages social /CRM
  • Not on social media                               Use social media to engage and communicate

How about Marketing? This one is a no brainer. The introduction of targeted content marketing on the internet andsocial-media-industry-report-benefits-marketing-stelzner-march-2009 social platforms means messaging is reaching relevant audiences. So, if you’re a sales professional you won’t see job adverts meant for java programmers. Social media data also provides key insights to understanding consumer preferences, demographics and metrics around success/failure of targeted messaging. Content marketing has also evolved to become interactive. Savvy marketers know that fostering engagement between the company and their audience through a social forum builds brand awareness and relationships which can translate to new customers and customer retention.

Traditional Approach                                   Savvy Approach

  • Relies on push content strategy          Creates an interactive strategy to foster engagement
  • Limited/static social presence            Offers content types through social platforms
  • No mobile strategy                              Optimizes content for mobile

Recruitment has typically been an industry leader using social media . New-Rules-of-Recruiting-PromoNew industry terms such as Recruitment 2.0, Social Recruiting and Social HR have emerged to describe the shifts in recruiters work and tool kit. Think about it. Job boards, applicant tracking systems and staffing vendors were key sourcing channels to generate a just in time candidate pool. However, high memberships on social platforms have resulted in a shift to proactive sourcing to seek out the best candidate instead of just relying on the applicant pool. The savvy recruiter participates in social media to promote their brand, connect, search through networks and leverage managers networks to build proactive pipelines.  Savvy campus/college recruiters understand that pro-actively cultivating relationships with students and providing a forum to interact builds an emotional connection to the company and brand.

Traditional Approach                                       Savvy Approach

  • Spends time screening out applicants    Pro-actively searches and engages candidates
  • Requisition based searches                     Uses social to build candidate pipelines
  • Relies on career centre postings             Cross promotes jobs on social networks
  • Only interacts on campus                        Uses a variety of social platforms to interact
  • Opts out of using social media                 Cross promotes company social channels

One last point to think about is the new work force. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that young people have the highest

Edison-research-graphuptake on social media platforms (as shown). As they enter the workforce they have an expectation they will use some sort of social media platform (internal or external) in their job to collaborate and/or communicate.  As a result companies have started to transform the way they communicate, engage and collaborate internally.

So, to stay relevant and competitive you need to be willing to embrace new ideas and adopt change.  Job descriptions now incorporate using social tools as part of day to day operations. Whichever way you look at it, social media at work, is inevitable. Which means resistance to social media in the workplace is futile.

By: Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy