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Recap: Everything Productivity & Collaboration From Google Cloud Next

Google Cloud Next is the biggest event of the year for Google Cloud, and for an engineer like myself, it is routinely a can’t miss opportunity to hear about the latest news and innovation about the company’s suite of cloud-based products. Thanks to COVID-19, though, the annual event was re-imagined as Google Cloud Next: On-Air, a nine-week, online-based collection of thought leadership and insights.

As I listened to some of this week’s pre-recorded sessions about productivity and collaboration, I was reminded that with how much our lives have changed due to the coronavirus, it’s only been a little more than four months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. How much has changed in such a short amount of time is staggering.

Here at Cloudbakers, as soon as we realized society was moving to a more remote workforce, our strategy shifted to helping a number of organizations quickly move away from their legacy platforms and into G Suite. Our priorities shifted from a typical phased implementation approach to getting customers up and running as quickly as possible. Our norm has changed, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem like it will ever be the same.

According to one of the Google Cloud Next sessions last week, eighty percent of the workforce in the U.S. would like the flexibility to work from home at least some of the time, and 74% of CFOs have said they intend to shift some employees to work from home permanently following COVID-19.

With so many people working from home, we’ve had to help our customers enable remote access for everyone, no matter where they are or what device they’re on.

Google’s security model is perfect for remote workers

Google’s BeyondCorp security model made it possible for this rapid shift to take place. The model grants access based on a user’s identity, device and context of their request, which takes the security controls from a traditional network layer to an application layer.

The beauty of this model is that it allows end-users to access enterprise applications such as G Suite without the need for a traditional VPN. Their access is solely dependent on device and user credentials, regardless of the network they are connected to, be that their home, hotel, or office. Google Product Managers Brad Meador and Gagan Arora dug into this model as part of No User Left Behind: Empowering Collaboration with Security.

“The traditional network-based, on-premise approach to security is broken when your end-users are accessing core apps in the cloud from anywhere on any device,” Meador said. “Our primary goal is to ensure that security does not get in the way of end-user productivity."

A number of customers we’ve helped shift from legacy products to G Suite in the past few months have been in the healthcare sector. Security is obviously an enormous concern for them with HIPAA regulations and ensuring end-user data is encrypted, and G Suite makes that possible for them. Google prides itself on not sacrificing security in order to better enable users to get their work done where they need to.

Use G Suite to work with Microsoft, Salesforce, Slack, and more

One of my favorite sessions from this week’s Productivity and Collaboration videos from Google Cloud Next: On-Air was Work Beyond Borders: How to Use G Suite with Microsoft and Your Favorite Third-Party Applications. The session stood out to me because it effectively went behind the scenes to show how powerful G Suite can be.

For example, did you know that the average enterprise uses 129 different applications on a daily basis? How about the fact that the average worker wastes 32 days per year navigating between apps?

G Suite helps solve those problems by seamlessly integrating with many of the most common applications workers use, from Slack and Salesforce to DocuSign and Trello. And yes, it even works beautifully with Microsoft, which means you can add a Google Meet video meeting to an Outlook event or invitation, edit Word documents in Google Docs or Excel Spreadsheets in Google Sheets without needing to convert them, and even see Outlook user’s availability through your own Google Calendar.

As an engineer, I love this interoperability because it means I don’t need to spend time writing custom code or configuring third-party applications to work with our customer’s pre-existing email or apps. Google makes it possible to select an add-on from its library of options, add it to a G Suite account, and that’s it. Our customer’s email, documents and calendar are now connected to their CRM, or their project management tool, or whatever the add on happens to be.

No longer do you need to open a new tab to access Trello or search for an image from Adobe Creative Cloud; you can see everything you need about your project or find that perfect picture directly through G Suite.

Google is taking integration to a new level

The seamless interconnectedness between Google and third-party apps is one of the things I love most about G Suite, but to kick off Google Cloud Next: On-Air last week, Google unveiled how they plan to take the integrations that already exist and push the productivity that comes with them to the next level.

Described as “your new home for work,” G Suite’s new integrated workspace will allow users to access core tools like email, video, chat, files and tasks all in one place. As part of this week’s Productivity and Collaboration sessions, Javier Soltero, the vice president and general manager for G Suite, talked about the strategy behind the new workspace and how he thinks it will help businesses moving forward.

I’ll be honest, I was wowed when I first heard about this. Google is taking its full capabilities and enhancing them to enable users to be more productive and allow them to collaborate with one another all from one application. All your tools will be available in one app. You’ll only need one tab open instead of 30 (full confession, right now I have 23 tabs open).

One of the nice features of this new connected workspace is that it can easily notify people when you’re busy and when you will next be available. That way, you won’t have any more of those times where someone is trying to chat with you while you’re delivering a key presentation or you get disturbed while you’re trying to write an important document.

Google is set to release more information about the integrated workspace in the coming weeks, and I’m already signed up for automatic alerts and to be a part of the beta testing. I’m excited to explore the new workspace, and I can’t wait to see how we’ll be able to use it to help make our customers more productive and collaborative — whether they are in the office or working from home.

Cloudbakers will be hosting Google Cloud Next Office Hours for the entirety of the conference, so be sure to stop by and get your questions answered!

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Originally published on July 27, 2020

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