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Transition to a Google Enterprise
By Jay McLean, CIO, Nexteer Automotive
Nexteer Automotive migrated from Microsoft Exchange to Google Enterprise in 2009. This project had a tremendous impact on how our organization collaborates on a daily basis. We made sure that effective processes and tools were in place to help during the transition. The transition to a Google Enterprise generated excitement amongst employees and new recruits as entry-level workers that came into the organization and were able to hit the ground running. Some employees were more cautious with the new tools and needed help with training materials, how to videos and lunch and learn sessions. Google provided us with a great database of learning materials to help educate employees and show them how to most effectively use these tools. Balancing these learning needs was a key element to our successful transformation to Google Enterprise.
“Google Drive has enabled an automated backup solution for PC files”
Nexteer realized immediate productivity improvements with the implementation of Google Enterprise. Giving each user 30GB of storage eliminated the need to spend each morning in “email jail” managing email files before getting to the tasks of the day. A big advantage to our employees was, to be able to access Google Enterprise from anywhere and with any device. The addition of Google Drive gave our users a way to share files and collaborate on documents, presentations and spreadsheets simultaneously. This eliminated emailing documents back and forth and keeping track of who has the latest version. Many of our end employees, sync their PC’s to Drive and no longer worry about taking backups of their PC data. Google Hangouts is another part of the Enterprise platform that allows us to collaborate in real-time, including video conferencing and document sharing. This is all done over Nexteer’s IP network and reduces telephone and teleconferencing costs.
Another positive aspect is that new capabilities are added to Google Enterprise on a regular basis. Moving from an internally hosted solution to a cloud-based tool required a change, on how the Information Technology department supports the rest of the organization when it comes to collaboration. Instead of focusing on the infrastructure components and software maintenance, the IT team focuses on staying up to date with the new features being added and assisting the organization on using the new features to constantly improve our collaboration. The result: a higher value-added contribution from the IT function.
Secured Cloud Platform
I’m often asked about the security of going to the cloud-based platform. The dynamic does change and organizations do need to monitor what files and data are being shared outside the organization. There are many available options to assist with this monitoring. From an overall security perspective, Google has more available resources and skilled technicians to keep our data protected than we could possibly afford to put in place internally.
The other question I often get is related to access to Google Enterprise in China, since Nexteer is a global company with a number of operations on the China mainland. Access to Google Enterprise is not an issue from our Chinese operations that are connected to our global wide area network. Remote access from hotels or employees’ homes in China is complicated by filtering and blocking via the Great Firewall. The only solution to this limitation at this time is for Nexteer employees to access the internet via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Google Enterprise is the foundation tool for collaboration at Nexteer and we find new ways to maximize our return on this investment every day.