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The Connected Web

Phil Wainewright

The Millennial Workplace is Moving to SaaS

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British publishing group Guardian News and Media, which publishes the Guardian and Observer newspapers, recently moved to state-of-the-art new offices in London's redeveloped Kings Cross area. Bringing staff together from a hotchpotch of older properties a mile to the south, the layout of the media group's new offices is designed to encourage collaborative working practices, dissolving the previous physical and functional divisions and encouraging more laptop and wireless working, as well as accommodating connected working when staff are out of the office or at home.

To go with this "fundamentally collaborative building," the company has switched from a previous Lotus Notes system to Google Apps, technology director Andy Beale revealed last month. More than two thousand employees now use the online collaboration platform to work on shared documents, and a 100-user pilot of Gmail is currently under way, with the aim of moving over to the Google-hosted email system by the summer.

Google Apps trumped Notes and other alternatives mainly because "the feature roadmap — and starting from a point where it has features that make sense in today's workplace — is extremely valuable," Beale told me in a briefing last month. In other words, Google Apps has been designed for the millennial age (and for the up-and-coming Generation Y), whereas Notes (which Beale concedes was ahead of its time when it launched two decades ago) is burdened with too many features and assumptions that no longer make sense in today's workplace.

"We were very conscious of why Web products are gaining popularity," he said. "We have a lot of Gen-Yers coming through the door — this is the type of software they expect to use."

The advantages of applications that are easy to pick up and have the features people expect outweigh the potential risks of relying on a cloud provider like Google, he said — even though the in-house managed Lotus Notes system has a five-nines availability track record. Cost has been a factor too. The system hasn't been upgraded to the latest version and once it is switched off, the savings on maintenance fees and upkeep costs will mean the Google system "will pay for itself very quickly," he said.

It's less easy to quantify the economic benefits of having an application suite that supports more mobile, team-oriented working practices, but these are still important gains. "There's a lot of dispersed working," said Beale. "It makes a completely accessible product like Google Apps — that's accessible anywhere, without a VPN — very attractive." Equally important is putting familiar concepts like office documents and email into an effortlessly collaborative context: "You type something in and tap share."

3 Comments

This is accepted. We see this in our clients switching from enterprise to open source apps too.

Its great to hear that such a forward thinking organisation such as the Guardian is moving towards this more social and collaborative SaaS model. By providing journalists, photographers and editors these more web based and collaborative tools they are essentially creating a the “Social Workplace� which is an ideal expression of Web 2.0 technologies that connect people with their peers and with critical content & information. Culturally, it helps break down hierarchical and administrative barriers leading to innovation and idea exchange among journalist and editors.

Another benefit is that Google currently has thousands of users worldwide continually testing the Beta code in the form of public-use GMail. The code eventually makes its way to the Google Apps Enterprise edition. Which means that the Google Apps Enterprise users get the code with all the bugs fixed. You can't get this type of Beta testing from any other vendor........

Question:
Any thoughts on how a large organization can mass migrate Lotus Notes email/calendar/contacts to Google Apps (Premier version)? Currently Google Apps doesn't support migration from Lotus Notes.

Found two 3rd party products that seems to offer migration:
http://www.connectedsw.com/Overview/57263
http://www.isrus.com/so_it_solution_googleapps_...

Has anyone used them? If so, how did the migration go?

Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services View more

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