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Summary:

I’ve recently been thinking about how Google Voice, Google Wave, and Google Buzz joining the full Google Apps lineup would make it a budget-friendly teleworking platform. Organizations can literally purchase themselves a “telework in a box” solution.

I’ve recently been thinking about how Google Voice, Google Wave and Google Buzz joining the full Google Apps lineup would make it a budget-friendly teleworking platform. Organizations can now literally purchase themselves a “telework in a box” solution — a complete office productivity software, communications and collaboration package — with little or no requirement for support from their own technical staff.

Here are some reasons why Google Apps might be your organization’s ideal telework platform:

  1. Low operating costs. Google Apps Premier Edition included everything and costs $50 per user per year. It can release you from software licensing costs and free up some of your internal technical staff from having to support telework applications, though you’ll still have to factor in some administrative and support time to provision and maintain remote users.
  2. Lower hardware costs. Outfitting teleworkers with hardware can be a major expense, especially if your organization isn’t standardized on notebook PCs. Google Apps is platform-agnostic, so teleworkers can use their own home PCs for accessing their email and documents.
  3. Lower security costs. While you aren’t going to be able to get around some administrative tasks in order to support your teleworkers using Google Apps, you aren’t going to have the security expenditures that would come with other solutions where you have to manage increased remote access to your corporate network and applications.
  4. Unified communications. The addition of Google Voice, Google Wave and Google Buzz means that Google can be a unified communications platform. Often, one of the integral elements of successful telework programs is multiple communications channels. With Google Apps, you’ll be able to offer voice, instant messaging, email and video conferencing to your teleworkers.
  5. “Presence”. With Google Talk and now Google Buzz joining the full Google Apps lineup, teleworkers gain the capability to publish their presence online, so co-workers can see if they are available for meetings, phone calls or online chats.
  6. Online collaboration. Google Sites, Google Docs and Google Wave would position Google Apps with three different online collaboration options depending on the teleworkers’ preferences and requirements.it means that organizations may not have to pay for a separate home office phone line for their teleworkers. Consider using a Google Voice number as the teleworker’s desk number and then alias it to their mobile phone and/or home phone.
  7. Video conferencing. You have the option to extend Google Talk into video conferencing by installing a plug-in. The Google Wave Extensions Library also includes the Video Chat Experience extension. Considering that a number of today’s notebook PCs come with an integrated camera, adding video conferencing to your teleworking mix is now a simple affair.
  8. Mobility. Google Apps is very mobile client friendly. Additionally, don’t forget that Gmail supports the IMAP protocol which makes it easy to extend your teleworker’s email accounts to their mobile devices including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone or Android phones.
  9. A healthy third-party application and add-on ecosystem. The range third-party applications that integrate with Google Apps is only growing now that the Google Apps Marketplace is live.

Have you consider Google Apps for outfitting teleworkers?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution

  1. Hi Will
    I read your article with interest, as I was just advising a customer recently on “whether Google” and we discussed many of the items you articulate. As I consult enterprises on the topic of business productivity, I thought it would be helpful to your readers to have a different perspective shared.

    Low operating costs. Most who refer to the $50/user price for GAPE as evidence of their lower operating cost either don’t understand the role of IT or chose to ignore basic fundamentals of supporting end users. With their service, Google offers no IT training, installation & document migration support, or end-user training. While these may seem unnecessary, it’s likely because of a crack IT staff that paved the way for the good user experiences that mask the planning and preparation done beforehand.

    Lower hardware costs. Many don’t realize that, once a company sanctions employee use of their personal computer for business use, there is a breach of customer privacy and the company no longer has the right to remove that data. Also, what happens if there is a problem with the PC, or it’s not able to perform to the level the company requires?

    Lower security costs. While your readers may feel secure and are knowledgeable of how to stay secure, the majority of most company employees are not. And, a company has a fiduciary responsibility to do their best effort in this area, not just assume the employee or Google always has their best interest in mind.

    Unified communications, Presence, Online Collaboration and Video conferencing. On paper this reads really good, but in reality most companies already have a phone system, voice mail and email. The idea that they would integrate Google services into their existing infrastructure and/or set up alternate ways of communication soley for teleworkers not only overlooks the financial costs but also dismisses the morale implications on those that do not telework, that the company values them more and is willing to make special accommodations for them to work away from the office.

    Mobility. Google Apps is not a very mobile client. It is an online client – once that teleworker disconnects, they lack even the basic ability of creating a document.

    A healthy third-party application and add-on ecosystem. Not really. Not yet.

    In summary, there are many products and services available to support teleworkers. Most, however, are not coming from Google, despite the hype. What I have found most successful are products like Zoho Apps and their integration with Microsoft Sharepoint, or Microsoft’s own Business Productivity Online Suite, both much richer in feature/functionality, with Microsoft BPOS offering 100% compatibility with industry-standard documents , a much larger ecosystem of 3rd party applications and mobile phone integration points, as well as a multitude of free and low-cost resources for enabling the teleworker to educate themselves.

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    1. Christopher–

      Thanks for your very detailed comments. The idea for this post came from some conversations I had with some colleagues after the blizzard that hit the east coast of the USA that paralyzed my local area on the topic of low cost telework options and the potential of Google Apps was bandied about. I agree there are a lot of other solutions out there including Zoho and Microsoft and is a big reason why I encourage people to pilot these products out with there users.

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  2. [...] 9 Reasons Why Google Apps is “Telework in a Box” – [...]

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  3. Hi

    Great article Will, thanks for pulling it together.

    As an authorized Google Apps Reseller we see first hand how Google Apps is revolutionizing IT in the SME market space.

    I just wanted to pitch frame some of misconceptions here:

    Firstly Chris – the $50 low operating costs – I have been in IT consultancy for over a decade and so I would consider myself to understand the role of IT and supporting end users.

    The low operating cost at $50 per year is for the service, it does not include any peripheral costs that you mentioned. When compared like for like at competitors pricing it is low operating cost. Google has built a strong partner & reseller
    programme to take care of the migration/support aspects.

    One even might argue that the Google Apps service is so intuitive that it does reduce IT support requirements overall. I mention this as a recent deployment I completed at the University of St Andrews – 95% of students didn’t require support with the Google service in the first six months – this is compared with the 25% of students contacting the service desk monthly whilst their old in house provision.

    Will – I would agree with Chris here about the personal computer use not being a best solution, although I think you might have missed the boat slightly with this benefit. The low hardware costs are actually describing the fact that you no longer need hardware to run email (MX hosts, mail storage, backup, AV, mobile access etc – to have a resilient solution you would require another hardware set) Google Apps service is provided as a service hosting in Google Data centers.

    Lower security costs – If signing up to Google Apps Premier, you sign a contract agreeing data ownership etc etc. I would however take Will’s point and agree that VPN solution is no longer required but for ease of use SSO might be on the cards. Take a look at Google’s security white paper and tell me of any SME or enterprise for that matter that has a larger security budget or team in place. From the millions of credit card transactions on Google Checkout to personal data the world over, security breaches cost Google Millions of dollars it’s something they take very seriously- they know they would not exist if they ever lost public trust.

    Unified Communications – I agree that some companies might have these systems in place but as we have created the business case to move to Google apps simply due to the significant lower costs (circa 80% vs Microsoft Exchange. We would be replacing the email systems, integrating the solution with directory systems (LDAP/AD) etc. Google Voice has taken VOIP to a new level adding in support of flexible and mobile working again without the requirement of hardware. Google Apps is not about replacing email/VOIP services though, the companies that benefit most have seen it as a challenge against silo driven, inefficient ways of working. In many deployments I have been involved with, Google Apps has unshackled many businesses to an extent they reinvent their working practices. In doing so improve performance and lighten the burden of IT. I don’t think Will was talking about “set up alternate ways of communication solely for teleworkers”.

    I would ask Chris – if not Google, what is a mobile friendly client? Google if anything is the most mobile friendly client I’ve come across. We are not saying we want to replace MS Office, Google Apps integrates seamlessly with Office including Outlook – so how do “they lack even the basic ability of creating a document”?

    Will has hit the nail on the head here with mentioning the Marketplace – Again it’s a new way of working – add on requirement as you need them, for as long as you need them (the beauty of SAAS). Are you saying integration with Salesforce or other tools like this are not useful? Google Apps opens the doorway into cloud computing. There is going to be massive growth in this marketspace in this marketspace within the next 18 months. Just as Google Apps adoption has shot up over 60% over the last 6 to 12 months.

    I didn’t mean this to turn into a such a long piece but it’s very interesting to see the misconceptions of tools like Google Apps. There will always be people from either of the two camps not wanting to even acknowledge the other,I switched from a Microsoft consultant to Google in the past 2 years. I agree with Will here that people have to try it, certainly with the 3000 businesses signing up daily it’s too big a solution and movement to simply dismiss.

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