Since 1849, the Minnesota Historical Society has been the chief caretaker of Minnesota history. We use the power of history to transform lives through preservation of more than 7 million items in our collection that document Minnesota’s past by connecting people to our historic sites, our museums, our library, and our online resources. We have between 400 and 700 staff, depending on the season of the year. In enterprise technology, we have 8 staff who support our technology infrastructure across the state. We also have another 8 staff who develop and deliver web and mobile websites.
We started thinking about moving to Google Apps when we realized that our Exchange 2007 server would be in need of an upgrade in the next few years. We were concerned about disaster recovery especially after a December blizzard knocked out power to this building which is where our main data center is. We started to see that travel across the state was becoming costly for our staff in those state-wide locations. And in the winter it becomes dangerous to travel. I started to recognize that our staff were licensing more online collaborative tools, and we were having more partnerships with external organizations and needing to be able to connect with them digitally. And finally our largest customer base, which are schools, were starting to move to Google Apps, and I felt that if our customers were using the tool, then our staff should know how to use it as well.
One day, our Exchange administrator came to me and told me about the Agosto seminar, and asked if I’d go with her. I jumped at the chance. I was very impressed by the seminar by the professionalism of the staff, by the inclusion of other customers who were willing to get up and speak for Agosto and their experience, and by the obvious connection with Google because there were Google reps at the seminar.
Well, 6 months after implementation, I am thrilled to say that we are really along the way of the vision of using Google Apps for cross-functional collaboration, and sharing information across the state. We have more than 40 Google sites now set up for cross-functional teams, for self-service, and for sharing work plans. Our historic site staff tell me that they prefer Google hangouts to the old audio conferences because they at least now can make a visual connection with us by raising their hands and we can see them when they want to talk. They’re able to see the same presentations that we see simultaneously, plus they now don’t have to drive to the Twin Cities in bad weather. And, I no longer have to worry about email being unavailable during data server outages.