Over the last two months I had the opportunity to spend time with hundreds of CIOs as we took Atmosphere – our annual cloud event – to 20 cities globally. What I heard from them boiled down to one simple idea: they’re looking for a better way to do things. Their employees want to work in collaborative environments without being tethered to their desks, and their IT departments are eager to shift resources from maintaining old technology to developing new ones.
These business leaders have experienced the power of living in the cloud and they want to bring that experience to the workplace. The cloud has certainly transformed my life by allowing my family to stay connected from all around the world. For example, at the São Paolo Atmosphere event, I joined a Google+ Hangout from my Android phone to wish my dad a happy birthday. This magic doesn’t need to be constrained to our personal lives. After all, we’re the same person at home and at work, and we like having access to the same devices and tools regardless.
A fundamental shift...
There was a time when business technology was at the forefront of innovation and productivity. Industries began to standardize around certain platforms that automated an individual’s work. But with complicated enterprise agreements, customer lock-in and limited competition, business technology lost its edge. IT professionals stopped innovating and relied on a handful of vendors who designed bloated software that was released every few years. At the same time, consumer technology took off. With the power of massive data centers, modern browsers and smart mobile devices at their fingertips, people found it easier than ever to communicate, create, and collaborate. Many people have fallen in love with the simplicity and freedom of these services, and they want to use them everywhere.
…to working in the future
This is where Google comes in. To provide a seamless transition from home to work (and back to home), we extended our popular consumer products–like Gmail and Google Drive–to meet the needs of businesses. For instance, Google Apps for Business provides an additional layer of enterprise features like delegated mailboxes, granular administrative controls, a 99.9% SLA, 24x7 support, migration tools, and an ecosystem of certified resellers.
We’ve also applied the same formula to other products that were born in the cloud: Google Maps Coordinate helps companies easily manage mobile workers; Chrome for Business gives you a consistent, personalized web experience on any device; Google App Engine lets you to build and host your own applications in the cloud; and Google Compute Engine allows you to rent Google’s infrastructure to operate at scale. With each of these offerings, you can access the latest innovation by clicking “refresh” in your browser.
We’re humbled that 5 million businesses (including BBVA and Roche), 66 of the top 100 U.S. universities, and government institutions in 45 of the 50 U.S. states have gone Google by choosing Google Apps to live and work in the cloud. We hear from these customers that alongside improving IT administration and individual productivity, Google Apps also helps teams of employees work better together. For example, Google documents let users collaborate in real-time and see each other’s edits as they happen. And now, with offline editing, users can continue working even without an internet connection.
As people have begun to embrace the cloud, some legacy enterprise vendors have started to offer their own cloud-labeled offerings. They claim to offer a bridge between legacy solutions and the cloud. But these offerings still rely on desktop products and on-premise servers, require heavy IT investment, have limited support for mobile devices, come with complicated pricing and licences–and ultimately they’re still focused on individual productivity. If anything, they offer a bridge to the past.
With the explosion of computing devices, ubiquitous high-speed internet, and mobile workforces, there’s a fundamental shift happening in business. The question is: do you want to cross a bridge to continue working in the past...or move to the cloud so you can live and work seamlessly in the future?
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