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Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Jon Spruce, Google Programme Leader for Travis Perkins plc, the UK’s leading company in the builders’ merchant and home improvement market and largest supplier to the building and construction market. See what other organisations that use Google Drive have to say.
Travis Perkins plc supplies building materials for projects small and large across the United Kingdom, from home improvements to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Creating quotes for a variety of different jobs and tasks, then making sure the materials get where they need to be, requires serious coordination. We chose Google Apps to enable collaboration across our 2,000 locations, 24,000 people and 17 different businesses. And since making the switch, Google Drive in particular has played a significant role in making our company operate smoothly and efficiently: we use Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents, which has reduced travel, email traffic and the time taken to get things done.

Before Google Drive, the process of creating quotes was disjointed and confusing. We’ve made a series of acquisitions over the last 30 years, and with each one, also acquired a new technology and system, which left us with a mismatched set of storage and document creation products. People created their own ‘kingdoms’ of data, and expected they’d be able to share information – with very limited success. With Google Drive, we can deliver quotes to customers at a steady pace, while making sure that employees across the Travis Perkins Group can provide and access the most up-to-date information at any time.

Drive has also taken the sluggishness out of the quote pipeline. In one of our businesses, BSS Industrial, we start by creating a document about the project at the customer’s local branch, then create a shared folder, and add in blueprints, estimates, and photos – anything the rest of the team needs to build and fulfill the quote.

As employees locate and price supplies or visit the building site to take precise measurements, everyone can update the same files. We no longer worry about which email or spreadsheet is correct, since we all work together on the same project quotes. Drive gives us an accurate, up-to-date picture of our progress at any given moment.

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No matter how things change, a face-to-face conversation is still the fastest and simplest way to communicate. Using Hangouts lets teams collaborate over video meetings across smartphones, tablets and computers. And dedicated Chromebox for meetings devices extend these video meetings to any room. Today, we’re announcing the latest features, updates and partnerships that make video meetings even easier and better for Google Apps for Business customers.

Enhanced reliability and support for Hangouts
Hangouts is now covered under the same Terms of Service that support our other Google Apps for Business products, like Gmail and Drive. That means we’ve got your back with 24x7 phone support and a 99.9% guaranteed uptime, as well as ISO27001, SSAE 16/ISAE 4302 and SOC 2 certification. Additional enterprise integration with Google Apps Vault is coming by the end of the year.

Simpler to get everyone on video meetings
Starting today, Hangouts video meetings support any Google Apps customer account, including those without a Google+ profile. Any Google Apps customer can start or join a high-definition video meeting that connects 15 participants—from a computer or Chromebox for meetings device and coming soon to mobile phone and tablet.

And to make video meetings with Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings even more accessible, we’re partnering with additional providers to let you meet with teams using other systems. Blue Jeans will allow people on traditional H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing systems to join video meetings. InterCall will let people join video meetings on their phones through an InterCall audio-conference bridge. And with new phone dialing support, you’ll be able to dial out from your Chromebox for meetings device to telephones.

Bringing Chromebox for meetings to more places
In the coming months, we’ll be making Chromebox for meetings work better in rooms of all shapes and sizes. In larger conference rooms, you can connect two displays to one Chromebox for meetings device to see your audience and project a presentation at the same time. And if you’ve ever wanted a dedicated setup for video meetings for your home, new personal calendar integration means you will be able to easily set up Chromebox for meetings outside the office.

Lastly, IT administrators can better manage meetings right from the Google Apps Admin Console with options like remotely starting, muting and ending a meeting.


Spontaneous one-on-one brainstorms, monthly company-wide meetings, or connecting two offices via a continuous video stream are just some ways customers like Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kaplan and Eventbrite have used Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings. And soon, even more teams across the world will be able to get simple and affordable video meetings. In the coming weeks, we’ll be expanding Chromebox for meetings to the UK and Japan in addition to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And in September, you’ll be able to purchase Chromebox for meetings made by Dell.

To learn more about these updates, join our product team for a live Hangout on Air on August 19. And to help your team see eye-to-eye, check out how you can get Hangouts and purchase Chromebox for meetings devices.

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Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Ridd, Managing Director for Xero in Australia. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software company with 300,000 customers worldwide and over 800 employees across offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

At Xero, our core business is making beautiful, intuitive cloud based accounting software that helps small business owners spend more time doing what they do best, and less time worrying about keeping their books in order. Xero started life as a small four person operation in New Zealand. Eight years later, we’ve grown to 300,000 customers worldwide and 800 employees across 17 offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand.

This rapid growth was great, but it came with challenges, like finding the right people and new premises. One of the biggest challenges was coordination. With hundreds of employees dotted around different parts of the world, it soon became apparent that we needed to improve how we documented information, shared content and communicated.

I have to admit, it was ironic that although our core product is cloud-based, we weren't actually using this same technology to its full extent within our own business. Instead, teams used a combination of cloud software and legacy desktop software that required continual expensive upgrades. With a highly mobile team based all over the globe, we needed a communications platform that would scale with us, make it easy to collaborate from anywhere, and help us maintain our fluid and mobile way of doing business.

To that end, in December last year we decided to change to Google Apps, and I’m pleased to say this has led to huge boosts in productivity and openness. Tasks that used to be time consuming – like emailing a document around for edits – now take just hours. Teams can also now jump into a document from Google Drive and collaborate on product release notes, spreadsheets, blog posts, and dozens of other documents with people around the world in real time.

Whether we conduct meetings in break-out areas or our in-house cafe, open laptops are ever-present, with Xero employees writing minutes in real-time so that everyone has their action items as soon as they walk out the door. Having 99% of our documents saved in Drive gives us a central place where people can find and store everything — and that means no more lost files, confusion over multiple versions, or duplication of work.

Moving to the cloud has made international coordination so much easier. Hangouts bring far flung teammates face to face, and during these video meetings people will often work together on the same document right from within he Hangouts window. Being able to work from anywhere — the office, home, the airport or the back of a taxi — has made everyone feel much freer because they can work wherever they want, on any device without worrying about losing documents.

Although it’s difficult to quantify how much money we’ll save with Google Apps, I’ve seen a lot less hardware around the office. In fact, we no longer need to spend money and time updating and maintaining servers. Productivity gains have been impressive, too.

By embracing the cloud-technology our customers use every day, we’ve been able to vastly improve the way Xero employees across our offices communicate, collaborate and share ideas. ‘Anywhere, anytime on any device’ is a key benefit we promote to customers, and it’s great to see we can now embrace that every day within Xero.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Lisa Ventura, Vice President of Accounting and Administration for the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, a non-profit organization that services businesses and consumers in the community.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a real mix of in office and telecommuting staff. As a busy non-profit, technology is forefront of our organization and, like a lot of Better Business Bureau offices around the country, we don’t have an IT department, which adds to the challenge of keeping information both secure and accessible. If someone needs tech help, I put on my IT hat (as does Kevin J. Sanders, our CEO), and configure new computers or update software. Juggling the IT responsibilities can be difficult during busier times of the year.

That is until we decided to bring 35 Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business at the BBB. Almost overnight, we reduced the time we spent handling IT tasks like software updates and patches, and worrying about security concerns. We’ve already seen firsthand how Google can help our business  we were early adopters among BBB offices of Google Apps for Business (about 30% of BBBs nationwide now use Google Apps), and we love collaborating on documents and managing our emails, which Google Apps has made so simple.

Chromebooks and Chromeboxes give us even more freedom and help us lock down the security of information. The devices run on the Chrome operating system and software is updated automatically on each device. Security is built into the Chromebook in multiple layers, such as sandboxing and data encryption, so we can rest easy knowing that malware can’t get very far. Using the Chrome management console we can preload the apps that we want employees to use and restrict downloads to only those applications employees need for working with consumers and Accredited Businesses. Not only are we greatly reducing IT issues, we have saved roughly $900 per seat by purchasing Chromeboxes versus computers with added software. With a staff of approximately 50 people, that savings really adds up.

Using Google Apps for Business eliminated the need for email and document servers, instantly saving BBB the cost of maintaining those devices. It became easier to share documents and track user changes, instead of emailing those documents back and forth as attachments. Plus, the ability to have Google Apps anywhere you are, allows our remote workers to always have information at their fingertips. Moving off our Windows-based desktops and laptops onto Chromebooks and Chromeboxes made perfect sense after seeing so much success from switching to Google Apps for Business.

We’re in the process of expanding beyond our original order of 35 devices and switching out all of our desktops and laptops to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes – a huge benefit for our busy organization. In fact, we’ve become such experts at adopting Google technology that other BBB offices in North America are coming to us for advice on Google Apps and buying up Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business

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A few weeks ago at Google I/O, Docs, Sheets and Slides got a major upgrade — making it even easier for you to get work done at the office and on-the-go with Google Apps. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of how you can edit Office files, make Suggested Edits and a new ability to convert tracked changes to Suggested Edits:

Edit and share Office files — without Office
Technology is changing the way people work, but all that change can cause friction when employees are using different software. That’s why we made it possible to edit Office files directly in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents in their native format using Office Compatibility Mode. No need to buy additional software or think about how to open your file. The Docs, Sheets and Slides mobile apps come with Office editing built right in, and with the Chrome extension, you can edit and share files directly from Google Drive or Gmail.
Suggest Edits in Docs
Docs makes working together easy by letting people edit files in real-time, rather than emailing multiple versions of the same document back and forth. But sometimes you want to control specific changes someone else makes in a document. Suggest Edits in Docs lets you do just that: your team can make suggestions that you can accept or reject with a single click. This feature is available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the web, and is coming soon to our mobile apps.
Convert your tracked changes to Suggest Edits
While you no longer have to convert Microsoft Word files to Docs (thanks to the recent Quickoffice integrations), if you do, starting today any tracked changes in a .docx file will be automatically carried over to Docs as Suggested Edits. Once you’ve imported your changes, you can begin immediately collaborating with your colleagues in real-time.
These features are available today. So next time you’re collaborating in Docs try suggesting edits to speed up the review process.

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Simon Forsyth, Software Engineer, Gmail

(Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog.)

Important stuff doesn't always happen when you’re conveniently sitting at your desk. Maybe you're out to dinner when your boss tells you that she needs the latest project proposal ASAP, or your daughter calls you on your commute home to ask you to proofread her college essay (that’s of course due that night!). While we can't make your life more predictable, today's update to the Gmail iOS app, along with earlier updates to the Gmail Android app, makes it easier to get stuff done on-the-go.

Just like with Gmail on the web, you can now insert files from Google Drive directly into an email on your phone or tablet.
The apps will even tell you if your file isn’t shared with the person you’re sending it to so you can change the sharing settings before you send it. And to help you store all your files in a single place, if someone sends you an email attachment, you can save it directly to Drive with one tap.
On iOS, you can now also change your profile picture right from your Settings. So the next time you take that perfect selfie, you can make it your profile picture right away, all while out with friends. Lastly, if you have multiple Gmail accounts, you can choose which signed-in accounts you want visible in the app.

You can give these features a try by downloading the updated Gmail iOS app from the App Store, and if you’re using an Android phone or tablet, you can get the latest version of the Gmail Android app from the Google Play Store.

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Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Brent Hoag, IT Director at Briggs & Stratton, the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment.

Briggs & Stratton has been in the business of making gas-powered engines for more than 100 years, and if you use a lawn mower or tractor, chances are it’s running one of our engines. Today, we also sell portable generators, pressure washers and snow blowers, and we’re transitioning into a maker of consumer equipment.

A few years ago, our CEO, Todd Teske, set out a strategy to break the company into the consumer market — an expansion from our long history in the original equipment manufacturing industry. To bring his strategy to life, he needed the company to adapt to the demands of consumer markets and invest in innovation. He hired me to help make that change happen with help from the best technology available. When I discovered that 15% of our network traffic was consumed by unsecured content storing and sharing and realized that poor communication was leading to inefficiencies, I pushed for a move to Google Apps. I knew that switching to Google’s platform would not only fix our communications problems, but help our 3,000 employees be both more innovative and more effective.

That’s happening now, in a big way. In a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, for example, one of our industrial engineers saw a way for Google Drive to replace an outdated, paper-based system to get critical information to production line workers. For decades, step-by-step instructions for assembling engine parts and quality-control checklists were all typed up and printed out for workers on five production lines. This wasn’t just a waste of paper — it often led to damaging errors when processes changed and employees were going about their jobs with inaccurate instructions and manuals. The proliferation of out-of-date information was just inefficient and potentially hazardous. To solve this problem, the engineering team created a page with Google Sites with Drive folders for each piece of manufacturing equipment, with photos, instructions for assembly, how-to videos for each of the steps and line schedules — all in a variety of file types, like JPGs, PDFs and Word docs. Workers can read instructions and learn exactly how to do the assembly using shared workstations on the plant floor.

Drive doesn’t just help us on the shop floor — it’s equally essential for our sales team, who spend a lot of time on the road, meeting with dealers and partners. Reps used to have to spend an hour or two sifting through different Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to find the most up-to-date pricing and promotions data before heading out to customer meetings and jotting down notes or downloading information onto their laptops. We’re now storing the current pricing database and promotions spreadsheet in Drive, and since our Sales teams use Drive sync on their computers, the latest information is automatically synced from Drive to their laptops. They never have to wonder if they have the right prices when they’re talking to a customer. They can also use the Drive mobile app to access the same information on their mobile devices. This means more hours spent with customers and a happier sales team — two big wins for Briggs.

Google is helping us streamline our manufacturing and business processes at a time when we have unprecedented product and corporate growth. And Todd’s strategy around breaking into the consumer market is making its mark: we’ve introduced 40 new models of lawn, garden and outdoor power equipment, won a handful of “Best of” awards and continue to see a growing percentage of our revenue come from these innovations. Google allows us to change our image inside and outside the company in a democratic and creative way, from the assembly line to the CEO’s office.

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Last fall, we launched Maps Engine Pro to give businesses and individual users an easy-to-use tool for collaborative map creation. Using Maps Engine Pro, you can create rich, multi-layered maps, share information with stakeholders and make decisions more collaboratively.

Starting today, all Maps Engine Pro users will also have access to Google Maps Coordinate, a mobile and web app that lets teams assign jobs and share their locations with each other in real-time. The new offering combines dynamic data visualization with location-based communication using Google Maps.
Pure Fix Cycles, a distributor of custom, fixed gear bikes, uses Maps Engine Pro to identify sales opportunities across target markets, helping to expand their business throughout the U.S. and around the world.

With the same $5 per user per month subscription to Maps Engine Pro, organizations will have access to this powerful suite of productivity tools. For example, a building management firm can organize the buildings they maintain on a map and when a maintenance call comes in, assign the nearest worker to the job.
In addition to making Maps Coordinate available to Pro users, we’re also opening the Coordinate app to anyone with a Google account — previously it was only available to Google Apps customers. This means more teams can use Maps Coordinate to share their locations and get jobs done.

With enhancements to the Maps Engine Pro offering and improvements to Maps Coordinate, businesses can do work with even more powerful, affordable and accessible Google Maps for Business tools. Starting today, new users can purchase Maps Engine Pro with Coordinate and existing Pro and Coordinate customers can begin using the combined app suite.

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Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Mike Giresi, CIO of Tory Burch, the lifestyle brand known for its iconic bright colors and eclectic prints, available at 120 boutiques around the world and online at Toryburch.com. To learn more about how Tory Burch’s move to the cloud helped them build a thriving retail business, join our Hangout on Air with Mike and Google’s Head of Industry Solutions & Retail on Wednesday, August 6th.

Before opening a new Tory Burch store, we go through months of planning with as many as 200 people, with tasks ranging from hiring staff, importing custom fixtures, designing windows, and when we can, having Tory on hand to do the opening honors. Nearly all of the documentation around a store opening, like blueprints and project plans, are developed by teams, not just one person. Google Drive helps these teams collaborate on documents and make decisions faster — now we can open three stores in a single weekend, something we couldn’t have done before we moved to Google.

Every Tory Burch store needs to embody the brand, so the process requires careful coordination. The more accessible store information is, the easier it is to decide on next steps. But with our old IT system, emailing spreadsheets back and forth wasn’t enabling the speedy decision-making we need for a rapidly growing retail business. Teams couldn’t get their hands on the right information to push store development forward.

Using Google Drive lets our store-opening teams and outside partners like architects and visual designers connect and collaborate seamlessly. For each Tory Burch store, team managers can create master folders without relying on IT, making it easy for them to store and share project timelines, floor plans, and merchandise lists. With Drive, we don't have to worry about version control, which was a struggle when we shared files over email — now, we know that what's stored and shared is the true, up-to-date document.

Choosing Drive also means we won’t have to worry about storage for documents, especially as we expand the business. Purchasing our own servers and storage disks doesn’t make good business sense for us — why not simply rely on a company like Google that can scale storage much better than we can do ourselves?

We’ve got the perfect combination of fashion’s most colorful and eclectic clothing and accessories, and Tory herself to embody the brand — so we’re confident that the world is ready for many more Tory Burch stores. Google Drive has become a catalyst for our exciting growth plans.

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Last month we announced Google Drive for Work, which includes advanced Drive auditing to give organizations control, security and visibility into how files are shared. This new security feature helps companies and IT managers protect confidential information and gain insights into how their employees work.

Drive audit helps IT admins view activity on documents, such as uploading and downloading files, renaming files, editing and commenting, and sharing with others. Filters make it easy to sort and find details like IP address, date range, document title and owner’s email address. To make advanced auditing reports easier to manage, admins can set up alerts for important events like files being shared outside the organization.

To help organizations derive even more value from Drive for Work, we’ve been working with partners to give you even more capabilities through the Drive Audit API:

  • Backupify protects your Google Apps data through secure, automatic, daily backup allowing IT users to easily search and restore files with advanced administrative features, safeguarding your business from data loss caused by user errors, malicious deletions, hackers, and app errors. (website, blog post)
  • BetterCloud, through their flagship cloud management and security tool, FlashPanel, has enhanced their offering through the Audit API to provide additional controls and insight. (website, blog post)
  • CloudLock, who provides a pure-cloud Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution for SaaS applications, has released a new version of CloudLock for Google Drive, leveraging the new Google Drive audit APIs, to enable large organizations to extend their enterprise security controls to the cloud. (website, blog post)
  • SkyHigh for Google Drive delivers Data Loss Prevention (DLP), mobile-to-cloud support, application auditing, data discovery, and anomaly detection without changing the Google Drive experience users love. (website, blog post)

And this is only the beginning. We invite developers and customers alike to get started with the Audit API to provide additional advanced security solutions for Google Drive. Learn more by visiting developers.google.com.

Google is committed to enabling organizations to be successful by leveraging a large community of ISVs. One of the areas we constantly invest in is our APIs, that allow customers and ISVs to extend the functionality of the Google Apps platform. If you’d like to join our ISV community, check out developers.google.com. For a list of ISVs supporting Google Apps, please visit the Google Apps Marketplace.