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.

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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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Kick Starting Your New Year

First, I want to start off by wishing all of you a very happy, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.

happy new year

The holiday season typically provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the year behind us. What lessons did we learn? What would we do differently? What did we accomplish and what weren’t we able to cross off our list. As the new year begins most of us feel rejuvenated, optimistic, full of hope and revolve to make this year different.

This may include setting goals for a new job, home, travel, more money, etc. As you begin to define what you want to change, the how to get there will be a critical input to developing your roadmap.

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If your sites are set on career changes you may want to explore enhancing your skill set. Virtual learning has come a long way over the last few years and now there are variety of free learning options that cater to how you want to learn.

  1. Leverage your company’s eLearning library for education/training programs.
  2. Take advantage of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ . You can join free groups, participate in conversations, projects, webinars, events and industry discussions.
  3. Sites like Coursera offer college/university level courses taught by professors for free!
  4. One of my personal favourites; YouTube. It’s not just for music videos. It offers instructional videos, how to’s, etc. It’s one of my main go to’s when I need just in time learning.

Upgrading your skills in an evolving market is always a good idea. It demonstrates your willingness to learn new things and keep relevant. Take a few moments to think about what new skills or training you would like to acquire and how that may help you align with your roadmap.

Maybe you’re quite happy with your job but would like to get a better sense of what’s happening within your coffee chatcompany or out there (in your industry). The start of the new year should also be a re-examination of relationships.  Remove those who are toxic and draining. Toxic relationships erode your self-confidence and leave you feeling inadequate. Toss them in the garbage! Draining relationships are ones that are typically one sided, all about the other person. Hey it’s time to put yourself first! Time to let go and move on to relationships that are fulfilling for both parties.

I am a firm believer in meeting new people. Not only does it expand your social network, but it also stimulates your communication and inter-personal skills. It removes complacency and makes us more self-aware. Take some time to build networks both within and outside your organization. How about making a goal to network with six people this year? That’s one every two months.

  1. Pick two people you sparingly interact with at work. Schedule a coffee to learn more about what they do and connect.
  2. Pick two people from your external network that are acquaintances. If they live in another city/location schedule virtual coffee using tools like Google HangOut, Skype, Facetime, What’sapp, etc. so you can still maintain the visual connection.
  3. Pick to two people in your community. Building and cultivating your network can be an important step in helping you make connections to realize your end goals.
  4. Build your networks through LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Google+. Increasing your network will give you more visibility to other professionals.

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Regardless of your end goals, as I wrote in my blog post How to Articulate Your Accomplishments for Your Performance Review, make a point of updating your online profile(s) to include accomplishments, skills and projects you have completed. This will boost your brand and showcase your skills.

Finally, and most importantly, balance your professional goals and objectives with your personal goals and objectives. The way we feel is the foundation of

how we project ourselves to our family, friends and work colleagues. Feeling positive about you should be your number one priority. Maybe it’s time to take up a new hobby or start an exercise routine. Having this balance will help put you into the right frame of mind to focus and achieve your goals. I am particularly passionate about this.

My personal journey to re-focus on health and wellness started in 2013. I felt I was overweight which caused me to be lethargic and more introverted. The final straw was when I went to my cousins wedding and looked at pics of myself. I didn’t like what I sahealthylifestylew. I decided I need to do something to improve my well being. That year I started an exercise routine and started eating more natural foods. Within six months I lost close to 40 pounds and 6 dress sizes. I had a lot of support and encouragement along the way. I’ve managed to stick to my routine and have kept the weight off for more than a year. More importantly, I feel better and have more energy. It’s transformed my attitude, relationships and way of thinking. Make it a priority and find time to spend on yourself. How can you start?

  1. Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes (cardio)
  2. Reduce your sugar intake
  3. Reduce your  processed food intake
  4. Eat frequently with smaller meals throughout the day

We all think we don’t have time, but with a little sacrifice, you can reap big rewards.

As for me…I am thankful I had a great year last year and feel very optimistic for the year ahead.

I would love to hear what you have planned for the year ahead. I wish you every sucess in achieving your goals. Tweet me @annzaliebarrett

What Will Be the Title of Your 2014 Chapter?

happy new year

First, I want to start off by wishing all of you a very happy, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. As the New Year begins, it provides a sense of optimism, opportunity and possibilities. I like to think of it as ending the chapter of the previous year and starting a new chapter charting your course for the year ahead.  So what will the  title of your 2014 chapter be? For some the chapter may contain goals for a new job, home, travel, more money, etc. The title of your chapter can guide you on creating a plan to help you achieve those goals. It can serve as an anchor to remind you what you set out for the year.

elearning

If your 2014 chapter has aspirations for a promotion or career change (and of course more money), consider exploring development opportunities that may be available to you through your company’s eLearning tool or education/training programs. Social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ also have free groups you can join to participate in conversations, projects, webinars, events and industry discussions. Upgrading your skills in an evolving market is always a good idea.

It demonstrates your willingness to learn new things and keep relevant. Take a few moments to think about what new skills or training you would like to acquire and how that may help you align with your holistic career plan.

Maybe you’re quite happy win your job but would like to get a better sense of what’s happening within your coffee chatcompany or out there (in your industry). The start of the new year should also be the start of new relationships. Take some time to build networks both within and outside your organization. I am a firm believer that different perspectives can help you make a more informed decision about what’s happening both beside you and around you. How about making a goal to network with six people this year? That’s one every two months.  Perhaps three people internally and three people externally. Maybe they’re acquaintances that you casually interact with that you would like to get to know better. Build you networks through LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Google+. Pick a few people and reach out to them. If  you can’t meet in person, set up a virtual coffee. Building and cultivating your network can be an important step in helping you make connections to realize your end goals.

LinkedIn_edit_profile

Regardless of your end goals. as I wrote in my last blog post How to Articulate Your Accomplishments for Your Performance Review, make a point of updating your online profiles to include accomplishments, skills and projects you completed. Having an updated profile helps build your brand and showcase your updated skills.

Finally, and most importantly, incorporate your personal goals and objectives into your 2014 chapter. The way we feel is the foundation of
healthylifestyle

how we project ourselves to our family, friends and work colleagues. Feeling positive about you should be your number one priority. Maybe it’s time to take up a new hobby or start an exercise routine. Having balance helps put you into the right frame of mind to focus and achieve your goals.

As for me…the title of my 2014 chapter will be an expansion of my 2013 continuous improvement philosophy, simply: “Expanding My Perspectives Through learning”.That will include both professional and personal goals.

I look forward to hearing what titles you come up with for this year. I wish you every success in achieving your goals. Tweet me @annzaliebarrett !