Monday, July 1, 2013

[G] Google Apps helps the cloud become a reality for Imagination

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Official Enterprise Blog: Google Apps helps the cloud become a reality for Imagination

Posted by Tim Smith, Vice President of Digital at Imagination

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Tim Smith, Vice President of Digital at Imagination, a Chicago-based content marketing firm. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Imagination is a content marketing agency that helps companies connect and engage with their target audiences. Businesses like Wells Fargo, General Mills and US Foods turn to us when they want to reach their customers, and we make it happen by creating interesting and engaging content and distributing it across print, digital, broadcast and social media. We place a premium on creating smart strategies and executing on them quickly, so efficient and clear communication matters to us.

Last summer, we realized our technology was getting in the way of our ability to connect and engage with our own customers. We’d recently switched to Microsoft Office 365 as part of a larger company-wide move to the cloud, but ran into a number of problems we couldn’t ignore. Server connection issues prevented us from accessing our documents and Outlook crashes kept us from reading or sending email. Fifty percent of our help desk tickets were for email alone. And whenever a problem arose, we had to hire an expensive Microsoft consultant to fix the issue. When I stopped and realized we had a managed service provider in our office two to three times each week, it struck me: this was not the right IT solution for our agile, quick-moving and collaborative company. So we turned to Google Apps.

Once we had the support of the executive team, I reached out to Cloudbakers, a Google Apps Reseller based near our office in Chicago. They had done numerous deployments for companies like ours before, so they had a well-informed, specific step-by-step plan in place when we first sat down to talk details. They came on-site and ran in-person training for our employees, so everyone felt properly prepared to tackle their work using the new technology without skipping a beat.

Moving to Apps made our IT headache disappear. Help tickets have decreased by 50 percent and we’re on track to save $24,000 per year in help desk and downtime reduction alone. Employees no longer complain about VPN logins or email client configuration; now they can sign on to their account from any device and have everything they need at their fingertips. We don’t encounter hardware issues that make work come grinding to a halt; employees can simply sign into a spare device and instantaneously access their email and files.

Our employees have really embraced Apps, and we've seen a strong trend where teams are adopted new products and features organically. Everyone stores their important documents, presentation and spreadsheets on Google Drive. There’s also been a massive drop in the use of Microsoft Excel in the past few months as people start picking up Google Sheets and Docs. As a data enthusiast, I can’t get enough of the Drive dashboard. It’s revealed a fascinating trend where use of Excel and Word is dropping while the number of Docs and Sheets is shooting up.

We’re in the midst of evaluating a new CRM system, and our COO has one requirement: it has to integrate with Google Apps. Now that’s a success story every IT manager likes to share.