SAN FRANCISCO – If you’re an attendee at the 2008 Office 2.0 conference, you’re probably feeling a little lighter than you usually do when you attend a conference. No bulky -- albeit free -- laptop bags, stuffed with vendor swag, and book-like agendas, just a plastic name badge…and an HP 2133 Mini-PC Note. This year, the conference is going paperless. All attendee materials are powered by Google applications – schedule meetings, add sessions to your own calendar, take fastidious notes – all in your personalized Office 2.0 Google account.
So it only made sense that one of this morning’s keynote speakers was Matthew Glotzbach, product management director at Google Enterprise. Glotzbach highlighted key critical business benefits, which started as a list of 30 to 40 capabilities, that can now be accomplished by cloud computing in his presentation, 10 Things I Can Do in the Cloud Today That I Couldn’t Do a Year Ago.
10) Everything on the go: With the availability of consumer devices like Apple’s iPhone and the Blackberry and the prevalence of wireless internet, people can store and access their entire life online.
9) Search through all email: Search was once limited to just the email header information, or email service providers had storage limits in place. Now email is, for the most part, an infinite space. “We all live in email,” Glotzbach said, so to be able to search through messages that may have been exchanged years ago is a phenomenal function.
8) Chat in any language: Google Talk offers a translation feature that translates as the line is entered, a service that simply isn’t possible on a local PC, Glotzbach said. He demonstrated the feature by chatting with a colleague in real time, translating from English to Spanish. “We’re always collaborating, always talking to other people,” he said. Google Talk is not perfect, but users can submit translation corrections and Google will make the changes. As the technology becomes more robust, translation can be applied to emails, documents, or CRM databases, all at the click of a button.
7) Collaborate simply and securely on projects: Invite users to collaborate on Google Docs and Sites and changes are made instantly. Internally, Glotzbach describes how prior to the Google’s recent announcements this week, the collaboration was all done through shared documents.
6) Organize all my business travel with email: Most airlines, car rental companies, and hotels send email confirmations. TripIt.com takes these itineraries and any confirmation emails you receive and organizes it for you. Simply forward the email to email@example.com. Since the service is based on email, Glotzbach commends TripIt for truly being a service in the cloud. TripIt also provides a feed that synchronizes with Google iCal.
5) Easily collect data from co-workers and customer forms: Gathering information from other people was never easier, whether it’s from colleagues, family members, or customer surveys. Individuals are able to access the forms and edit and participate accordingly.
4) Build any scalable business application on the cloud platform: “Everybody’s got great ideas,” Glotzbach said, but not everybody has skilled programmers or the capital to operate a programming environment. Fortunately, those who do are willing to share. Salesforce.com, for example, currently hosts more than 80,000 business applications built on its Force.com platform.
3) Use online templates for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations: While faxing may seem antiquated, it’s still used by businesses and for those rare times you need to send a fax, Google Docs has 13 different templates to choose from. Templates simply make it easier when it comes time to create a standard format document.
2) Google Chrome: A new Web browser currently available in beta for Microsoft Vista/HP (Sorry, Mac users), Google Chrome was designed with the very intention of eliminating the area around the Web browser, also known as – go figure -- chrome. The objective is not only to optimize the size of the window, but to make everything faster, regardless of what browser is being used. The focus, Glotzbach says, is to make a Web application run like an application.
1) Securely share video: At any time, Glotzbach carries one or all of three video recording devices: his phone, his Mac, and a flip cam. Video sharing may not be the most popular function in Google Apps just yet, but Glotzbach is seeing it more and more in his everyday life and anticipates that it will prove to be an exciting collaboration medium.
“Adoption,” he concluded, “ is going really strong, and it’s accelerating.” Recent company statistics indicate that approximately 3,000 new businesses sign up for Google Apps every day. "It’s happening. It’s not if, it’s when, and when is now.”
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