Our Top 10 Best of G Suite Updates to Start the New Year Right

Google never stands still.

As a company, Google is constantly evolving and introducing new tools and feature to help businesses grow, build and succeed, especially in the world of G Suite.

That’s why we’ve gone through all the latest and greatest updates for G Suite and summarized just ten of the top updates, introduced in the last year, that are helping companies worldwide make an impact. Are you one of them?

1. Google Groups Contact Hovercards

Maybe our favorite update of the year! Google made Gmail even better last year with contact hovercards for Google Groups. This is an especially helpful time-saving feature for large organizations – providing essential info when you move your mouse over a Google Group. Quickly view how many group members there are and their names, plus enjoy easy access to more information. You can also effortlessly email the whole group and schedule events with members.

2. Security Updates

One of the top requests we get from our clients is to engage with them in detailed Security Reviews. Google is delivering on that need with Gmail security enhancements. This includes phishing and malware protections, confidential mode, plus an alert center for security-related notifications and actions. (Note that 2019 has just started, but Google has already added some additional improvements to G Suite security protocols!)

3. Gmail Offline Mode

Offline Gmail functionality is an excellent feature for professionals on-the-go who may not have internet access, but have some downtime while traveling. Maximize that available time reading and responding to emails with the offline mode. These are the type of smart features that help you get things done, anytime, anywhere.

4. Hangouts Meet Attachments

Streamline conferences and other virtual work gatherings with simple access to important attachments during Hangout Meet meetings. Document collaboration has never been simpler for your team.

5. Gmail Smart Reply

Machine learning meets predictive text with another great time-saver, especially when you’re on the move – Smart Reply! Minimize keyboarding and reply quickly to emails with this innovative feature. Suggested responses are customized to the content in the messages.

6. Calendar Rescheduling

Things change, meetings get moved, and people need to be informed quickly. Calendar has a new “propose a new time” option to support faster meeting rescheduling. An added message pop-up allows you to communicate the reason for a reschedule and out of office mode in calendar lets your team know when you’re not available to meet.

7. Quick-Access Panel

No need to leave the doc or project your working on in G Suite to quickly calendar an event, make notes, view other content or manage pressing tasks. Just access these other G Suite products from the quick-access side panel – now available in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar and Drawings.

8. Live Streaming

With large business gatherings, like big company meetings, all-hands assemblies and educational conferences, reaching a huge audience is essential. The new live streaming feature in Hangouts Meet is equal to the task, reaching up to 100,000 in-domain users. Versatility is key, allowing attendees to watch on the internet or from a mobile device.

9. Google Drive Beta

Unfortunately, not everyone you do business with has yet recognized the stellar value that G Suite provides. When they don’t have their own Google accounts, collaboration is hampered. But now, a Google Beta Drive gives these business associates the ability to collaborate with access to your selected Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files with pincode ID verification.

10. Box for G-Suite

Work productivity and collaboration will get a boost from Google’s Box for G Suite. G Suite’s content creation products now work seamlessly with Box.

Have you been using these new and expanded G Suite features? Have another to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below what makes your “best of” list for new G Suite features. And don’t forget, if you’re interested in learning more about any of these updates, or diving deeper into maximizing your use of G Suite with customized training, we’re here for you.

Google Enterprise 2.0

An opinion piece by Aric Bandy. 

Google is the world’s biggest cloud provider.

They have 7 products with 1 billion+ users (YouTube, Android, Gmail, Google Play, Search, Maps, and Chrome). Google spends $10B every year on infrastructure alone. Yet with all this capability, why do Fortune 500 customers continue to run their own data centers or go to online retailers (Amazon) infrastructure?  

Google has done a terrible job of explaining their capabilities to the market.

In November 2015, Google hired Diane Greene, formerly the CEO of VMware, as Senior Vice President of Google’s Enterprise Business shortly after the acquisition of her previous startup, Bebop. Instead of being “Googly,” she’s picked a fight with Microsoft and Amazon.

A fight I believe she can win.

Since Greene was acqui-hired, there’s been a timeline of events that serves as an indication of Google’s intent. But what is Greene doing that wasn’t done before?

What Greene Has Done

The most refreshing thing about Diane Greene is that she’s a woman of action. When I met with her a short time ago, she outlined a plan to evolve Google for Work and win in the enterprise space.

Diane Greene is keeping her word so far:

November 2015 – Google buys Bebop, Greene’s start-up company, dishing out $380 million to close the deal. Word on the street is that following the acquisition, Bebop will continue to work on developing and maintaining enterprise applications.

February 2016 – Google announces it will be building its first engineering team devoted to Southeast Asia. To kick-start the venture, Google buys Pie, a communications service based in Singapore.

March 2016 – Google acquires Synergyse, an interactive training service for Google Apps for Work. The Toronto based company, launched by a former group of Google employees, has trained over 4 million people in 3,000 different organizations.

August 2016 – Google acquires Orbitera, a startup that developed a platform for buying and selling cloud-based software. The $100M sale is agreed upon to help Google improve how it competes with Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure in the cloud.

August 2016 – Google announces partnership with Okta, an identity management vendor, to provide a more unified IdM solution for Google Collaboration tools.

September 2016 – Apigee is purchased by Google for roughly $625M. The API software acts as a channel between companies and their customers and partners.

September 2016 – Box partners with Google to integrate Google’s suite of productivity tools, Google Docs with Box.

In total, this equates to about $1.1B in acquisitions just to evolve the Google enterprise offering.

Why She Did It

Prior to Greene stepping in, Google hasn’t had what I would call “enterprise acumen.” This isn’t to say that Google hasn’t won big customers, Agosto alongside of Google has won some of Google’s biggest Fortune 500 customers.

However, the Google for Work team wasn’t aligned to fully capitalize on the opportunity. Google owns the SMB and online market, but to win Fortune 500 in a big way, Greene had to align product teams, service teams and sales teams. Before Greene, Google for Work sales and marketing teams were not able to steer the product roadmap. Greene now has engineering and product teams aligned with the sales teams.

The Power of Partnering

Google doesn’t have the luxury of time.

According to BetterCloud, 62% of all organizations will run 100% of their IT in the cloud by 2022. The customer landgrab is happening now and Microsoft and Amazon are both aggressive in their pursuit. Greene’s only option is to acquire and partner to compete. Google has the cash, $72B to be exact, and Greene appears to have ability to leverage it.

Apigee and Orbitera acquisitions addresses gaps in Google’s offering while bringing Google upwards of 60,000 enterprise stacks to the platform.

The partnerships with Okta and Box extend Google’s products with proven enterprise products, which are widely adopted by Fortune 500 customers.

Conclusion

Greene is showing her willingness and ability to evolve Google for Work into a serious enterprise competitor.

While some might suggest that Greene’s moves are not always the most “Googly,” they are the most prudent. Google can be THE dominant player in the enterprise public cloud.

They have the technology. They have the cash. The market is there.

All they needed was a leader to make it happen. With Greene, I believe they have that leader. Google is well on its way to beat Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Google Enterprise 2.0 is going to be big.

The Differences between Google Docs and Microsoft Word

Current best business practices across the globe are using the reliability of document sharing. Digital files have essentially replaced paper versions of documents in most aspects of business and our personal lives.

Having said that, people may be under the impression that their Microsoft Word software still gives them the most benefits when it comes to sharing documents. Let’s explore a few differences between these two tools.

Layout and Design

The best thing about any document-sharing software is that it’s understandable and easy to use. The sleek and minimized design of Google Docs offers a fantastic environment for productivity, as well as all the tools you need to create a beautiful and functional document.

Google has invested hundreds of millions, if not billions, into material design to ensure all of their products have the same characteristic simplicity.

The clickable editing feature is one of the most efficient things about Google Docs. You can select any aspect of the document, whether it is the header or title, and change it without creating formatting issues.

You can do this even when naming your document. For a new document, just a click on Untitled Document lets you name the document without navigating through the toolbars.

The one less option in the toolbar than you’ll find in Word, but the selections are much simpler. By cutting down on unnecessary features and clutter, the bar is inherently easier to navigate and more familiar for most people. Each word produces a drop-down menu with all the selections you need. From left to right you’ll see:

  • File
  • Edit
  • View
  • Insert
  • Format
  • Tools
  • Table
  • Add-ons
  • Help

Word 2013, on the other hand, offers File, Home, Insert, Design, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review, View, and Acrobat.

Selecting a new tab changes all the options in the toolbar, which can quickly become confusing. Google Docs works with you, instead of against you, by putting the most commonly used formats and features on a separate toolbar.

That means you’ll spend less time clicking through menus and more time creating your documents.  

Another benefit of Google Docs is the Research Tool. It will help you find the information you need for your document– including content, maps, pictures, and other media. Just one click can automatically format and insert a citation into the document.

As a matter of fact, with Google Docs, you can choose the appropriate style (Chicago, American Psychiatric Association, or the Modern Language Association) and it will insert the citation appropriately for that style. This is a considerable time-saver over the References tool available in Microsoft Word.

Features that Work

Even the prettiest software is only as good as its functionality.

Google Docs offer many unique features and benefits, from Document Sharing options to Version Control. Real-time collaboration, for example, offers many more options than the standard download version of Microsoft Word, which provides no live collaboration at all.

Working with others through Google Docs allows you to:

  • Add collaborators. Pull in members from your team at any stage; you’ll always have the people you need to get a document finished.
  • See changes as they occur. Watch what edits the others are making, as they make them. Always know who is responsible for which contributions throughout the project.
  • Add and reply to comments. Leave notes and ask questions that your team can respond to later.
  • Chat within the document in real-time. If it’s not enough to add a comment, you can communicate live with your collaborators. The built-in messaging means you can always reach out to anyone else who is working on the document.
  • Suggest edits. These suggestions can be attached to specific portions of text so others always know exactly what needs to be updated.

Using Google Docs also offers more ways to share content. You’re always able to email attachments with the desktop version of Word, but that’s it.

Google’s application gives you the freedom to email documents as attachments or insert them into emails entirely.

You can also share links in email or chat, publish to the web, send directly through Docs, and embed in Google Sites. Your content will always be available to your team.

Once you’ve shared your document with collaborators, you can also give them specific access levels. There are no sharing options in desktop Word, although Word Online offers viewing and editing. Google Docs has four separate permissions: can view, can edit, can comment, and is owner, which transfers complete ownership of the file in question.

A big plus is that you can also set their access to expire after x amount of days.

Docs that Do More

Another great feature of the Google Docs and Google Drive is that it allows you to edit any Microsoft Office document without purchasing expensive software or subscriptions.

You can work through spreadsheets, slideshows, and regular Word files in seconds.

You’re also able to create new content in these forms, because of the cross-compatibility that’s included in the applications. Clicking the menu from Google Doc’s Home shows the options for Sheets and Slides as well. You’ll save time when you don’t have to wait for separate programs to load. And, as an added bonus, you can transfer your files to Google Drive to keep them safe.

Tips for Google Docs

If you have a document that you need to translate, Google Docs makes it simpler than ever. Changing your file to a new language is literally just a click away. This element is crucial to any global business.

If you need to do some digging, don’t waste time filtering through internet results, especially if you’re going to be citing sources. The Research tool allows you to examine filtered results, such as images and quotes, quickly. You can also search with a “Scholarly” filter to only see scholarly sites and always have the most trustworthy and prevalent information.

Conclusion

Microsoft Word has been a technological game-changer, but its time is over. With smooth design, intelligent advancements, and increased user-experience, Google Docs is a beautiful and powerful tool. The flexibility that it offers is important for personal and business use.

New case study: Madison-Kipp Corporation Goes Google

Madison-Kipp Corporation goes Google and is pleased with the results. Madison-Kipp Corporation (MKC) is a producer of precision machined components and system subassemblies for transportation and industrial end markets. After running Lotus Notes for about 10 years, and previously Microsoft Outlook, the company selected Google.

“We looked at cost, complexity and overhead for the whole project,” said Manager of Information Systems, Jackie Giller. “We were paying upwards of $8K per year maintaining Lotus Notes and WebSphere. Going Google was most definitely a less costly maintenance solution. Looking at patching, clients, setting up users if they forgot passwords, and even mailbox sizes, Google seemed like the right solution in every way.”

Learn more about the details and the results by reading the case study.

If you’re interested in how going Google could help your organization, call our sales team at 612.605.3520 or contact us here.

Google, Agosto and Okta Host Top Minnesota Companies for Twins vs. Cubs Win

This past Friday night, Agosto, a Google Apps Premier Enterprise Reseller, and its partners at Google and Okta (a company that enables single sign on or SSO) hosted 20 VIP guests from some top Minnesota companies in a suite at Target Field for the Twins vs. the Cubs. To enhance the fun, guests were treated to food, drinks and gift bags loaded with loot from Agosto and Google as well as some of our current clients. Thanks to their generosity, in addition to the Agosto mini-bats and water bottles and Google’s notebooks and pens, there was coffee from Dunn Bros, golf towels from 2nd Wind and baseball hats from CATCO.

The evening kicked off with drinks from a smart bar, which automatically dispenses mixed drinks based on pre-programmed or on-demand recipes and brand preferences. The inventor and company owner, William Metropulus, was even there to show us the ropes. It was a lot of fun for guests to pour their own cocktails without ever touching a bottle. We see this creation going a long way and wish the company all the best.

Google, Agosto and Okta presented an executive overview of Google Apps. We also mentioned our enabling capabilities and Okta’s SSO prowess. Guests were able to check out Google Apps with a customized single sign on login. This provided an opportunity to experience a sampling of all of the host companies’ offerings.

Using Google Sites and Google Spreadsheets, Agosto set up activities. Throughout the evening, guests had a chance to prove their baseball trivia knowledge and guess the outcome of the game. At the end of the game, two lucky winners took home the grand prizes: an iPad and a new Chromebook Series 5 550.

In a close game that went extra innings, the Twins beat the Cubs 8-7. When the Twins win, it’s a big deal. When the Twins beat the Cubs, it’s a party.

Thank you to all of our guests for joining the party with Agosto, Google and Okta. We look forward to seeing you again soon and to helping you hit a homerun with Google Apps and SSO.

Google Takeout: It’s Deliciously Simple to Get Your Data Out of Google

Have you ever wondered how to, or even if you could, get your data out of Google’s services? Yes you can and here’s how. Though we won’t name names, there are a lot of other businesses out there where, once you put your data in (think about uploading a photo or chatting, for example), it remains forever with that business. Not the case with Google.

There’s an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. They are quick to say that people usually don’t look to see if they can get their data out of a product until they decide that they want to leave. That makes us agree that we should all ask ourselves a few questions before starting to use a product that will store our data:

  • Can I get my data out in an open, interoperable, portable format?
  • How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
  • How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?

Google.com/takeout is an online service run by Google engineers (the Data Liberation Front) where, once you put in your credentials, it’s easy to download a copy of, for example, all your Google Docs. It even converts them to the closest usable file formats (PDF, RTF, text, Word, HTML, etc.) and creates a single zip file with all of your files in it.

How long do you have to wait for Google Takeout to provide a copy of all of your data, you ask? The answer: minutes. Probably less time than you’d wait for the other kind of takeout from the restaurant down the street. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free (or at least no more than you’re already paying, if you’re paying for Google Apps.)

At Agosto, one of the questions we are asked by our Google Apps prospects is, “what if in a year we don’t like Google Apps?” We advise that everyone, of course, should follow their licensing agreement. But, if they want out when the license period is over, Google cares enough to have created an entire program (Google Takeout) to help them get their data out, for good.

The Google Data Liberation Front believes that “you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product”, that it shouldn’t cost much and that it should be fast. We’re believers. You really can get your data out of Google’s services including Chat, Docs, Calendar, Voice – even YouTube videos. It’s also pretty darned easy to get your data in; that’s more our specialty here at Agosto. We can help you go Google quickly and easily and migrate data into Google Apps for your users.

Now that you know that you can get your data out if you need to with Google Takeout, once you try Google Apps we’re still pretty sure you’ll never actually want to.