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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We all scream for ice cream with Google Apps for Business

One of my fondest memories growing up is riding my bike to get ice cream with my family on a hot summer day. For me, it’s exciting to see the local ice cream industry evolve and grow, without losing its charm. Today, ice cream shop owners from around the country are using technology–like Google Apps for Business–to help them run their businesses and reach their customers. From taking their beloved treats on the road to shipping pints across the country, technology is a sweet source of their success.
In celebration of National Ice Cream Day, let’s take a look at how three ice cream shops from around the United States are using technology to scoop up business:
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams began small, but had big dreams. Jeni Britton Bauer opened her first ice cream shop in Grandview Heights, Ohio in 2002, and turned to Google Apps for Business to help her manage everything from ingredients to employee scheduling. Today, Jeni has grown the business to 10 stores throughout Ohio and Tennessee and has a booming online shipping business, and she depends on Google Apps to help her manage it all. Google Docs helps Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams employees share information from the kitchen with the planning teams on the ground at each location. And it gives her access real-time information to ensure they have the ice cream, packaging and manpower to handle spikes in online orders. Stores are also able to give feedback about each home-made batch of ice cream through a Google Docs form. So if there aren’t enough pecans in the Whiskey Pecan Ice Cream, Jeni’s team can add more in the next batch. Jeni even wrote herbest selling cookbook using Google Docs.
Business partners Zach Davis and Kendra Baker knew they wanted to start their exploration in sweet treats with Google Apps. But their journey to get The Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz, California off the ground includes a video they made about spending money locally and rethinking ice cream manufacturing from the ground-up, and a subsequent invitation to the White House to meet the First Lady and the President.
The ice creamery’s menu changes each season, depending upon the fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs that are in season in Northern California, so keeping track of ingredients is crucial. Google Spreadsheets help them do this, as well as track and reconcile daily sales across multiple locations, and Google Forms help them manage their mailing lists. Zach and Kendra wear a lot of hats as proprietors of an expanding beach empire, but IT falls to Zach, who says Apps has been invaluable because, from a management perspective, it's quick and easy.While it might feel natural to drive or bike to your favorite ice cream shop, Coolhaus does things a bit differently. They bring the ice cream to you.
The brainchild of Los Angeles natives Natasha Case and Freya Estreller, Coolhaus is an artisan ice cream sandwich truck that launched at the 2009 Coachella music festival. The entrepreneurial duo turned to Google Apps for Business to help them develop everything from writing their business plan to organizing locations to park around the city. Over the past four years, Natasha and Freya have been able to expand their business to Austin, New York, Miami, and Dallas, and they depend heavily on Google Apps to manage their 50+ employees across different locations and time zones. Google Calendar helps streamline collaboration among operation managers and truck supervisors to ensure there are enough employees at each location. And Google Docs lets regional event managers share and menus and truck catering details with CoolHaus clients.It’s exciting to see how Google Apps has helped these entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams and reach the sweet tooths of so many people. Whether you’re a two-scoops, waffle cone or sundae kind of ice cream lover, celebrate National Ice Cream Day with a sweet treat from your favorite local ice creamery.

Dutch businesses are going Google

Many Dutch businesses are beginning to go Google, joining the 10 top universities in the Netherlands that announced their move to Google Apps for Education last month. These businesses have transitioned to Google Apps for Business because the intuitive applications in Google Apps facilitate seamless communication and help employees work better together. Some of these businesses have been recently sharing the advantages they’ve seen since going Google. 

Seamless communication
Ahold, the biggest food retailer in the Netherlands with supermarkets in Europe and the United States, has 55,000 employees using Google Apps for Business. Ahold made the decision to move to Google Apps for cost savings and to provide its workforce with a single web-based platform for communication and collaboration. Thanks to Google's mobile device management solutions, employees can access their information and work together from any location - on their work computer, home computer or mobile device.

De Rijke Group, a logistics service provider, chose Google Apps for its ability to improve online collaboration and communication. By using Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts, they’re able to share information faster with colleagues in international branches, rather than relying on email and in-person meetings.

Wegener Media, the largest Dutch publisher of local and regional media, recently switched 4,500 employees to Google Apps for Business. Their migration fits well with their transformation from traditional publisher to a media company that delivers digital content. In the news sector, minutes -- rather than hours -- can make a difference and Google Apps enable staff to access their e-mail and calendar, use Google Talk to consult colleagues and simultaneously work on the same document, regardless of time or place.

Intuitive applications
Beeld en Geluid, the Dutch Institute of Sound and Vision, transitioned to Google Apps for Business so their employees would be able to work together anywhere. Using Google Docs, everyone has easy access to the latest version of documents that they are working on within the projects that Beeld en Geluid is carrying out. By having employees create Google+ profiles, they were able to quickly and easily create a company-wide "Who's Who". As employees can add a description of their responsabilities, Google+ allows employees to easily find the people they need to get in touch with and to share valuable insights.

Deli XL, a total supplier for the food service market, found that many employees already worked with Google products such as Gmail and Google Docs, so they were able to transition employees quickly and seamlessly. Deli XL also found a higher level of self-reliance among employees using Google Apps thanks to Google’s online support resources, reducing calls to the Deli XL tech support by 25%.

We have a large variety of Dutch businesses adopting Google Apps every day. What unites them all is their desire to help employees work better together. As the pressure to remain competitive and forward-thinking increases, Google Apps is helping businesses across the Netherlands cut costs while providing employees with cutting edge technology.

Georgetown Hoyas are going Google

Going Google was an opportunity to reimagine technology’s role at Georgetown and unify our campus by moving to a powerful cloud computing solution that worked no matter where our users were or what device they used. We had calendars, mail, and file storage and sharing tools before, but they were fragmented and in dire need of replacement. Our email system was twelve years old, only allowed 250MB per user, and calendars were not universally adopted or user-friendly. When our 16,000 students started using Google Apps for Education back in 2009, we instantly noticed some dramatic benefits. So we’ve decided to complete the migration by moving everyone over to the same platform. By summer’s end our 20,000 students, staff, and faculty members won’t have to worry about hitting email quota limits, guessing what teammates’ calendars look like, or being frustrated by the technology around them.

While modernizing our technology was one motivation, we also wanted to invest in a long-term vision of moving our university into the 21st century. Doing this in-house would have amounted to a tremendous resource commitment both now and in the future, for a relatively small boost in the end user experience. Google’s tools were an affordable way to provide a sustainable infrastructure for our faculty and staff. 

The process of moving our users to Google was fast, painless, and will ultimately make our users more productive. We were really impressed with our community’s reception to the switch. It helped that about 30% of our staff and faculty already had personal Gmail accounts, but during our outreach events, even people without that exposure were excited to migrate. We did several demonstration events to answer questions, and provided hands on support for those who needed it.

Working on projects and tasks has become much less painful after switching to Google Apps because instead of dozens of versions attached to dozens of emails, we can all work on one copy at the same time through Google Docs. The Corp, the student-run corporation at Georgetown, uses Google Apps to coordinate schedules, plan events, and manage other aspects of the business. With our 4,000 faculty and staff now using Google Apps as well, we are excited to see the innovative uses the whole campus will find for collaboration, enhancing the education experience, and becoming more productive across campus.

We look forward to bidding farewell to the days of full inboxes, missed appointments, and inefficient technology. Going Google allows us to switch off our email servers and at the same time take a giant leap forward in the services we provide our employees and students.

Fairfax Media Goes Google

In an increasingly web-enabled world, the speed of sharing information continues to increase at a stunning acceleration. This has changed the way businesses in every vertical operate, but no field has been more impacted than the media sector – businesses that deal in information itself.

Today Fairfax Media, a leading multi-platform media group in Australasia, announces that it will provide its employees with Google Apps for Business. This makes Fairfax Media one of the largest Google Apps customers in the Asia-Pacific region, and they join fellow Australian companies such as Visy, Jetstar, Flight Centre and Ray White. After a successful Google Apps pilot program earlier this year, Fairfax will now work with Google Apps Premier Reseller, Cloud Sherpas, to ensure all staff have access to Google Apps by November 2012.

The Fairfax Media group comprises metropolitan, rural, regional and community publications and websites across Australia and New Zealand. High profile mastheads include The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Age, along with their corresponding national news websites.

A key part of Fairfax’s business is about quickly, efficiently and expertly providing information and content to its readers and customers — and the multi-tenant communication platform that Google Apps provides will help keep Fairfax at the forefront of its industry. Google Apps is a central part of the company’s “Fairfax of the Future” program transforming it into a “digital first” media organisation.

By taking up the heavy lifting of storing data and managing infrastructure, going Google will allow Fairfax to focus on being a media company and not worry about also being an IT provider. And the real-time collaboration in Docs and communication facilitated through Talk and Google+ Hangouts will allow reporters and editors working in various locations to overcome geographical barriers.

We're excited to see Google Apps as a key piece of Fairfax's transformation into the future model of a media company. These tools will allow Fairfax not just to allow employees to work in the future but to let the entire company better concentrate on the thing they do best — keeping the public informed.

When the economy gets tough, the tough get innovative

Posted by Carmella Sabaugh, Register of Deeds, Macomb County Clerk 

Editors note: In March 2011, we announced the Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk/Register of Deeds have gone Google. Almost a year later, we’re honored to recognize Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh as one of our Government Transformers.

Like others hit hard by the recession, the Macomb County Clerk’s office in Michigan was forced to make tough decisions. But when faced with setbacks, we respond boldly. To borrow Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “We refuse to be among those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” Macomb County is now one of only 67 counties nationwide to earn a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s. 'AAA' is the highest issuer credit rating assigned by Standard & Poor's, recognizing that a county has extremely strong capacity to meet its financial commitments.

One way we innovate is to use Google Apps for Government to improve service and save money. In the past it could be disruptive for court clerks to receive phone calls while court was in session since they’d be helping judges work through their dockets. But some matters require immediate attention. Google Chat makes it easy for court clerks to instantly get information without disrupting the docket flow, and it reduces incoming phone calls and walk-up requests. Clerks can work from any courtroom or back office without requiring a complicated workstation setup or changes.

The circuit court clerk also uses a Google spreadsheet to maintain a dashboard for the office. Everyday the attendance data of all job duties gets automatically populated and color coded with a progress chart. This allows the chief court clerk to allocate staff efficiently to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. The clerk’s office uses Google Docs to create county commission meetings minutes which allows real-time collaboration among the commissioners. The public can watch it as it’s being created and learn about voting results right away.

Our staff is able to improve citizen services with the latest technology tools. We are a government of the people by the people and for the people. We are the Macomb County Clerk’s office. And we’ve gone Google.

School of Rock tops the charts with Google Apps for Business and Chromebooks

Posted by Evan Trent, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Technology, School of Rock 

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Evan Trent, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Technology at School of Rock, a national music program headquartered in Burr Ridge, Illinois. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

For more than a decade, School of Rock has been inspiring kids to rock on stage and in life. We offer music lessons on guitar, bass, piano, vocals and drums in a performance-based environment at over 90 company-owned and franchised schools in the U.S. and Mexico. Our goal is to inspire our students to learn, motivate them to excel, and, as a result, help them to gain confidence.

We’ve been growing rapidly in recent years, primarily been through franchising. We ran Microsoft® Exchange for years, but as the number of franchise schools continued to grow, we found it more and more difficult to offer a simple start-up process and manage and deliver remote support. We needed to move to a web-based solution that didn’t require multiple installations, software updates, and desktop support. After researching a few different options, we found Google Apps for Business had the tools we needed to rock on. We also found that many of our franchisees were already big fans of Google products and were using them outside of School of Rock.

We began the transition to Google Apps in January 2012 through our implementation partner, Cloud Sherpas. The migration was straightforward, and Cloud Sherpas offered training sessions for our employees and franchise partners to ensure a seamless transition. Google Apps completely transformed how we work with our franchisees and how each location works together as a team. Sharing information with students, faculty and parents has become much easier with Google Docs and Google Groups. We also find Google’s mobile-friendly approach in tune with our younger and more mobile employees.

Since we struck an amazing chord with Google Apps, we also decided to rethink our PC-based culture. We no longer wanted to deal with the administrative overhead and the security and reliability issues that came with traditional PCs. So in March, we deployed GoogleChromebooks to about one quarter of our locations, and we’ve been rolling them out to increasingly more schools. We use them for just about everything, from accounting to video conferencing to putting on shows. The Chromebooks are extremely fast, require zero support, are easy to manage across multiple remote locations, and they cost only a few hundred dollars each. They’ve also been incredibly helpful for those of us who travel often since the battery life often lasts much longer than our previous PCs and they have built-in 3G access.

Google Apps for Business and Chromebooks have greatly reduced the time, money and energy our franchisees need to invest in technology, and that’s music to our ears.

RTW Mobile

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RTW Mobile is an Authorized Google Apps Reseller helping companies migrate their communication and collaboration needs to the cloud. RTW Mobile offers needs assessment, data migration, training and support services that streamline and accelerate the transition to Google Apps. Google Apps offers powerful communication and collaboration tools, like email, calendar, and docs through a secure, web-based platform. This means no software to install or expensive mail servers to buy and maintain. Google Apps reduces strains on IT resources, increases productivity and saves money. This blog is a collection of Gone Google stories collected mostly from various Google Blogs