0187A: My Non-Existent Business Running on Google Apps

I totally foresee one day running a business of my own. I doubt it will be very big, and it may not even be one located in a single physical office. I just have no idea what it might do. Or maybe this will never happen and I just like musing over how I might use Google Apps to run such a business.

I probably need better hobbies. Or maybe I should just convince someone else with a business to sign up for Google Apps and have me run things as a remote administrator. LOL

For the small/medium business user, Google Apps can be quite the godsend to open the door for great tools despite the relative size of your company. It's more than getting domain email service for all of your users. If you play your cards right, Google Apps can represent a lot of cost-savings for your little organization - provided you don't need highly complex spreadsheet functions or excessively pretty presentations. But it becomes ridiculously powerful when you work in a virtual office space - or perhaps we could call it an extended office arrangement.

First, all you need are computers with a good internet connection. If all your users are going to be hosted in a single location (i.e. a formal office setup), then you're going to need a pretty significant connection. Having all your applications run of the cloud (which is the internet, silly), then you'll need something that can accommodate your entire team. Or split across two connections from two different providers for redundancy but make sure each connection has enough capacity to support your entire hosted organization if needed.

From there, you can get Google Apps licenses at $5 per user per month or a discounted rate for a fixed number of users per year. You can always add more within the year term, but you won't be able to subtract users until the next contract renewal period. But with that $5 you get a virtual email exchange server (run through Gmail and appointments through Calendar), a pretty robust desktop publishing suite (thanks to Google Drive and its apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides), and useful features like video conferencing through Google Hangouts (complete with screen sharing). Take note - this has eliminated the need to pay for other desktop applications on these computers of yours.

In a virtual office setup though, everyone could already have personal computers they prefer to use. Thus getting them setup in your office is a breeze. Admin controls can ensure that documents in your business' shared Google Drive are restricted within your organization. Heck, you can even limit Hangouts usage to participants in your organization as well. And you can set similar controls for when your employees access your Google Apps on their mobile devices without too much additional work. Not many office suites work "right out of the box" as it were. Plus you'll always have the "latest version" of all your apps, so you won't need to worry about things becoming obsolete over time.

Granted, I don't necessarily think it's a solution for everyone. MS Office still does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to workplace solutions and Excel power users can't quite get away from the need for Office just yet (as I had blogged about a few weeks ago). But I still think most small business groups and less intensive office users don't need the full corporate office experience. And the collaborate features built into most Google apps makes for dynamic workflows that should create for a more dynamic and versatile work group experience. Who knows, my feeling "married" to MS Office for now just represents my not having a different workflow in mind built around Google Apps. And that's the experience that I want to have with this fictional new company - the joy of setting things up, meeting with users and coming up with new ways of making working together a lot easier.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! And yet writing this much already has me feeling rather excited about things. Heck, I might just start writing about use cases for Google Apps or just try to document some of my ideas about collaborative workflows and the like. At least it's another way to fight the stress I often feel on busy work days.

Oh the things that make us happy.