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Replacing your file and mail server with your Google Workspace account

Generally what tends to happen in common organizations is that, as employees acquire experience and they get better at their jobs, they tend to internalize a lot of their work. So you might run into situations where people aren’t exactly sharing the experience that they have and everything gets stored inside each person’s computer. This prevents the possibility of this knowledge being used to benefit other people and support your company’s processes.

So essentially you have these silos of information built up all over your organization and no real way to tap into them. Hence the need for an infrastructure to store all this knowledge in a way that can be easily made available throughout your organization, a tool that you can use to break down those silos and combine all of the institutional knowledge and experience that you have. The goal is that everyone in your organization from the most experienced and oldest employees to the newest, freshest sub person who was hired yesterday can benefit from that shared wellspring of experience.

Over time companies have tackled this issue by setting up local servers in their basement where they could store all this shared information in a structure that replicated our personal computer folders (and with the same user experience).

These servers would usually run Windows Server as an operative system and Microsoft Exchange as a centralized mail server, not exactly the most powerful platforms and definitely not focused on user experience (when they were born user experience was probably not even a thing).

With the advent of cloud computing and the widespread adoption of AWS (Amazon Web Services) those who felt bold and tech savvy enough ventured into a new scenario: a virtual space that they couldn’t see or touch (as opposed to the server they used to keep in their basement) and the subsequent need for a leap of faith to trust an external company to protect their mission critical data better then they could do by locking their dataroom and hiring an IT guy.

The problem with that approach was that it was still replicating the same data organization as their local server, which, in turn, was replicating that of their personal computer.

This is when Google stepped into the game with Google Apps (which then evolved into GSuite, which then evolved into Google Workspace, as we know it today): a virtual space hosted on Google servers which would take care of your mailboxes (with capabilities, features and performances never seen before) and all that shared information, but with a completely new approach.

The characteristics of this type of infrastructure were listed in our previous post here.

Let’s now deep dive into Google Workspace as a tool that can help you up your company’s game and increase your organization’s productivity, as this is by far the most complete and best performing system to organize knowledge across organizations and cooperate on documents in a way that can create real added value to people’s work.

Google workspace is comprised of several cloud-based browser tools and a suite of client side apps that can help you access and use your Google services from your local machine (actually, from any type of device), even without the need for an internet connection.

The main Google’s cloud-based browser tools are:

  • Gmail, which is Google’s email service and includes Google Tasks for task management;
  • Google Drive: Google’s file storage and synchronisation service;
  • Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, Calendar, Keep, etc. which are the apps you can use within Google Drive.

The suite of client side apps is a bit less straightforward in that you have Google Drive for Desktop that basically mirrors your drive files onto your local machines, so that you can see them in your Finder (for Mac users) or in your Windows folders.

Alongside allowing you to work on the files from your drive account (this basically implies that a click on a Sheets file in your Finder’s Google Drive for Desktop folder will open up the browser page related to that Sheets document) this app allows you to manage your Office files in a completely new, revolutionary way: it basically boosts your Office files with superpowers.

Probably the best way to illustrate this scenario is showing a real life workflow. And we’re doing exactly that in our next post about a random company’s use case with Google Workspace.