What is Google Apps?

Google Apps is a group of online applications specifically designed for businesses. Google Apps includes the following suite of applications: Gmail for businesses, Calendar, Docs, Groups, Sites, and Video. Google Apps also offers the Google Apps Marketplace which allows third-party applications such as accounting tools and customer relationship management software to intregrate with Google Apps.

Google Apps Products Suite:

Gmail for businesses contains 25 GB of storage, includes spam filtering, guarantees 99.9% uptime, and integrates instant messaging and video chat.  Gmail also syncs automatically with Outlook and Blackberry devices without the need to ever physically connect the device to a computer.

Google Calendar is a powerful calendaring application that allows users to schedule appointments easily since it integrates with Gmail as well as Outlook.  Calendars can be shared company wide so co-workers can easily facilitate their schedules with their peers.  Events can also be viewed and edited from Blackberry or iPhone devices. Event notifications can also be sent through a text message.

Google Docs includes Google’s web-based word processor, spreadsheets, and presentation developer.  By using a cloud computing model, multiple users can all edit the same document in real time rather than being forced to e-mail attachments back and forth.  Since Google Docs allows collaboration in real-time, a company’s efficiency and productivity are dramatically increased. Additionally, since the files are securely hosted on the internet, the latest version of the file can be accessed on any computer anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.  Backing up files to a thumb drive or e-mailing yourself an attachment are now a thing a past.  Microsoft Office files can also be uploaded to Google Docs so all of your files can be hosted on the cloud.  Google Apps also works offline, so you can still access and edit your files if you are in an area without an internet connection.

Google Groups facilitates communications between co-workers.  Google Groups can be used to create e-mail lists, share documents, calendars, and videos between group members.  Google Groups also acts as a central discussion forum where team members can share information.

Google Sites allows companies to organize information efficiently, which can be shared with co-workers.  Google Sites is a private, secure website that is used primarily for use within the company.  Google Sites allows information such as announcements, documents, presentations, videos, and slideshows to stored on a central location to keep co-workers organized and focused.

Google Video allows videos to be securely hosted on Google and shared with co-workers.  Videos can be used for things such as employee training, company announcements, or as a way of communicating between employees rather than using e-mail.

Apps Marketplace contains additional Apps that integrate with Google Apps.  Third-party developers produce the applications, which are then approved by Google.  Examples of these apps include payroll management systems, customer management systems, and electronic faxes.

Salesforce has a partnership with Google to deliver integration between Google Apps and Salesforce.  Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) service which is an extremely powerful sales tool used by many businesses.

» The Small Business Guide to Google Apps [Mashable.com]

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