posted 9 Jul 2012 23:14 by Nick Bryant
updated 9 Jul 2012 23:42
Since 2009 my consultancy's e-mail has operated on Google Apps, and I have owned a series of Android handsets. How I got to that point is far less an ideological story than one of expediency.
I had experienced ongoing frustration with what was involved in migrating my mailboxes every time I needed to upgrade one of the PC's, and having to re-enter all my contact phone numbers when I bought a new mobile handset seemed to me ridiculous in this day and age.
I was already aware of the existence of Gmail, however I had started reading about Google Apps, and Google's new operating system called Android. And the more I read, the more this seemed like the way small business computing was supposed to be.
In September, 2009 I took the plunge and entered my credit card details into the Google Apps website and signed up. The set up and migration of e-mail was easily followed from the online guide, and the re-direction to the new service was activated with one phone call to my excellent domain registrar Aust Domains.
While I missed some of the functionality of Outlook initially, I loved the speed of Gmail, and the fact I could access my e-mail from anywhere with an Internet connection. My partner and I started using Google Spreadsheets for collaborating on things such as monthly bills, and the kids' Christmas lists. I developed a Google Site for a customer which is still used for uploading reports and maintaining operating procedures.
The true value personally though, soon became apparent with the delivery of my first Android phone - the HTC Magic, running version 1.6. I powered on, entered my Google Apps login details, and there everything was: e-mail, contacts, appointments. Since then I have upgraded my handset twice and I love that I never have to worry about migrating any data, just turn it on, and there it is!
My accounting system was the next to move in December of the same year. I had always found using MYOB far from intuitive, and it was always a nuisance having to backup the file at tax time, send it to my accountant, and wait for him to make journal entries and send it back to me before I could continue using it. After a little research, I settled on Xero, a cloud product from a New Zealand based software developer which is quickly gaining market share in Australia. Again, no regrets. Migration was quick and easy, and my accountant can login to my accounts to prepare my end of year return. Xero also has a mobile website, although no native Android app yet unfortunately. You can also enable it from the Google Apps Marketplace which allows you to use the single sign-on facility.
Over time I have added other products from the Marketplace to my domain. I use Smartsheet for project management, and Tripit for managing my travel bookings. Google Drive has also been a great recent addition to the Google ecosystem for syncing important files to the cloud.
Nearly three years down the track, moving my important business functions to the cloud has been the best I.T. decision I ever made. Yes, I still use Microsoft Office, as my work involves a lot of data analysis and report writing, but as Google Apps evolves I imagine this will become less and less necessary.
It has made me realise that to the small and medium business, these functions should be something you just turn on, like electricity, with no maintenance or backup required. In five years time, I can't imagine that anyone will be doing it any differently.
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