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Editor's note: Today we hear from Jamie Holyland, director of communications at London youth support organisation Epic CIC. Epic saved £67,000 last year by switching to Google Apps for Work, with projections to save £140,000 annually. Read how Google Apps re-energised the 155 workers at Epic with forward-looking solutions.

When government budget cuts threatened our organisation's financial health, we didn't expect a technology change to keep us afloat. But that's exactly what happened. We provide a wide range of youth services in inner London, including an assistance program for teenage parents and programs to help young people find employment. In the wake of increasingly severe public funding cuts, Epic joined the private sector after 25 years with the local authority of Kensington and Chelsea. Ending even one of our projects was a step we didn’t want to take, and by transitioning to Google Apps for Work, we didn’t have to. The £140,000 a year that we save with Google gives us room in our budget to maintain all of our services. Now Epic is not only financially sustainable, it’s more efficient, more secure, and primed for a future of cloud computing.

Google Apps pulled our fragmented organisation together. Before we switched over last year, few of our 80 part-time staff had a work email account or online calendar; we relied entirely on phone calls, texts and face-to-face meetings to communicate. Now, almost everyone uses Gmail and calendar to stay organized and in touch. Whether staff are working with young people at one of our six youth centres or at any of our other eight offices, they can use one of 50 Chromeboxes to check their accounts. And for management rushing between meetings and our 20 case workers who operate off-site, we have 40 Android devices for them to stay connected from anywhere.

The impact on our efficiency has been huge. Google Apps for Work has reduced the number of emails we send by 50 percent in two months. The Chromebooks our 25 senior and middle managers use take seven seconds to start up, compared to the 20 minutes we spent starting up some of our old machines, so their time is spent fixing problems for our other 130 staff rather than waiting for technology to warm up.

Cloud computing is the future for our kind of community work, where teams are spread thin and wide. For example, instead of relying on a scattered paper trail to register attendance at our events, we now use Forms to track participation as they happen. Under our old system, the quarter of a million files we had stored on the local authority hard drives were full of confusing duplications. In one case, we found the same document saved in 47 variations by over 50 people, with no clue as to which was the final version. Now, the whole team can work together on a single shared Doc. And because there’s only ever one version, we don’t just save time, we stay aligned and build off of each other’s feedback seamlessly. We found Drive to be more secure, too, because its privacy and file access controls let us control information in more nuanced ways than we could before.

Maintaining our services without public funding was a daunting challenge, but Google Apps helped make it possible. Even better, the tools bring our team together and save us time, so we can spend more of our resources on the people who need them most.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

The tradition of ringing in each New Year with resolutions (whether we stick to them or not) is always an opportunity to reflect and start the year ahead on the right foot. As students and teachers around the world return to campuses and classrooms this fall, we’re embarking on a different kind of fresh start: a New (School) Year. And we want to help you make the most of it. So we’ve put together a few resolution ideas, plus tips to help you stick to them. We’ve also made a resolution of our own: to bring the best of Google technology to education.
The best of Google, for education

Like many resolutions, ours might sound familiar—and that’s because the Google for Education team has been working on it for a while. Over the last few years, we’ve spent a lot of time with teachers and students, witnessing firsthand how technology is helping in the classroom and learning about challenges that are yet unsolved. With feedback from schools, we’ve improved products like Google Apps for Education and Docs, building in new features specifically useful for education. We’ve also created new learning experiences like Google Classroom—a sort of mission control for teachers and students, offering a single place to keep track of all class materials, eliminating paperwork and making it easy for teachers to collaborate with students, and students to collaborate with each other.

So as part of our resolution this school year, we’re launching some new features in Google Classroom. Teachers can now easily ask students questions in Classroom, alongside all the other class materials in the stream. Teachers also told us that they want more ways for students to engage with each other, and flex their critical thinking muscles. So now students can comment on each other’s answers in Classroom and have open-ended discussions. In the next month, we'll also make it possible for teachers to add assignments, due dates and field trips to a shared calendar.


So what’s your resolution?

We’re sure you’ve already set some big goals for the year ahead—from acing AP Bio to landing that killer internship. Whatever your plans, it can be tough to stick with those goals once assignments and social commitments start to pile up. So we’ve collected 50+ tips from more than 15 Google products to help you follow through with your resolutions. Here are some ideas:
Resolution 1. Get (and stay) organized

When you’re bogged down by clutter, it can be tough to get stuff done. Make this your year to be more organized. Never miss another study group with help from Google Calendar. Use Google Sheets to keep all your classmates' info in one place, and better manage your inbox by emailing everyone at once with a Google group.


Resolution 2. Get (mentally) fit

Push yourself to take your studies to the next level. Teach yourself how to code with Made with Code. Make the most of language class by saving your most used words and phrases with Google Translate or magically translating webpages with Google Chrome.


Resolution 3. Get some worldly perspective

Not studying abroad this year? No problem. You can still unleash your inner explorer with Google Maps Treks and visit the Pyramids of Giza or the Great Barrier Reef without leaving your room. Or bring your art history class to life by seeing those masterpieces up close and in perfect detail with Cultural Institute.

We hope these give you new ideas for how you can make this school year your best yet. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing more tips and other updates—so follow along with #GoogleEdu and on Google+. We’ll be doing our homework to stick to our resolution, so we can hopefully give you what you need to do the same. Now go hit those books! 

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Editor's note: Today we share a few of the most enlightening insights from our study on the impact of collaboration and innovation on a company’s success. Read on for some highlights of what we learned from business leaders at companies of all sizes and industries, then check out the full report here.

As a culture, and in business, we’ve become increasingly conscious of the positive impact of collaboration, group interaction and free exchange of information. And with the word “social” tied to many of the ways we now spend our time — social media, social apps, social gaming, social software — we’re often reminded of the power of connecting and sharing.

The numbers reflect this trend. Over the last decade, Google search volume for the term “social collaboration” has grown globally by more than 300 percent, while interest for the term “social innovation” has jumped more than 200 percent. And the money trail is headed in the same direction: business leaders are directing focus and budget on tools and strategies that foster collaboration.

So how exactly does collaboration stack up against other business objectives in the eyes of today’s business leaders? We teamed up with Raconteur to find out. We surveyed senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies of all sizes and industries about a wide range of business concerns, from changes that impact profitability, to barriers and drivers of innovation, to the most formidable organizational threats they’re facing, to the tools they’re using to address their challenges. Here’s what those business leaders told us.

Collaboration is good business


Our research shows that the benefits of collaboration extend far beyond the success of any single project. An overwhelming 73% of business leaders said their organization would be more successful if employees could work in more flexible and collaborative ways. In fact, they tell us that “employees working together more collaboratively in person” is the number one factor impacting profitability.

Another eye-opening discovery was that collaboration and employee happiness go hand in hand: 88% of business leaders who believe their company fosters a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration also say employee morale and job satisfaction are high.

Business leaders also told us that the most serious people management-related threats to organizations are failure to attract enough talent (25%), inability to retain the best talent (18%), and concerns about a disengaged workforce (14%). While we haven’t proven a direct causation, it appears that a culture of collaboration could potentially help address these threats by creating a more desirable work environment.

Who can spark change?


While business leaders look to departments across the organization for innovation and collaboration, they consider IT the greatest changemaker. Twenty-six percent named IT the leading department for driving innovation, and 28% named IT the department that best collaborates with internal and external teams. So we weren’t surprised when leaders also told us that investing in technology, which IT manages, has the biggest impact on knowledge sharing and collaboration. We saw that companies of all sizes rely on IT and technology for the tools to share, innovate and transform.

Business teams with access to the right technologies and tools and the support of IT and leadership can work better together, with greater mobility. And this paves the way for a collaborative culture that may bring a host of benefits, including greater profitability, happier employees and more consistent innovation. We may continue to be surprised by what results when teams truly sync.

See the full report on collaboration here.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

As you gear up for the new school year, try the newest features in Google Classroom for more ways to save time, engage your students and keep everyone organized. Most of these features are rolling out this week; stay tuned in the next few weeks for more back-to-school goodies in Google Classroom, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, all designed to help you make this school year yours.

Keep students engaged with question-driven discussions 

Since Classroom launched last year, teachers have been using their class stream to host student debates, Q&A and discussions. Starting today, you’ll be able to do this in a more collaborative way. You can post questions to your class and allow students to have discussions by responding to each other’s answers (or not, depending on the setting you choose). For example, you could post a video and ask students to answer a question about it, or post an article and ask them to write a paragraph in response.

“Often, teachers want to do a quick check-in on what their students are learning. Now with this built in to Google Classroom, teachers can easily do this on the fly, any time,” said Michael Fricano II, who teaches at Iolani School in Honolulu. “Your class can have a really engaging, focused conversation.”

Reuse posts 

You know those lessons that worked so well last year that you want to use them again? Now you can reuse assignments, announcements or questions from any one of your classes — or any class you co-teach, whether it’s from last year or last week. Once you choose what you’d like to copy, you’ll also be able to make changes before you post or assign it.

“The reuse post feature gives teachers the gift of time. Making changes to something already created is way easier than starting from scratch,” said Heather Breedlove, Technology Integration Coordinator at Flagstaff Unified School District in Arizona. “It’s working smarter, not harder.”


Calendar Integration 

In the next month, Classroom will automatically create a calendar for each of your classes in Google Calendar. All assignments with a due date will be automatically added to your class calendar and kept up to date. You’ll be able to view your calendar from within Classroom or on Google Calendar, where you can manually add class events like field trips or guest speakers.





And a few more improvements you’ve asked for:

  • Bump a post: When you want to make sure an older item is easy for students to find, you can now move any post to the top of the stream. 
  • Due dates optional: For long-term projects or student-driven assignments, you’ll now have the option to create assignments that don’t have due dates. 
  • Attach a Google Form to a post: Many teachers have been using Google Forms as an easy way to assign a test, quiz or survey to the class. Coming in the next few weeks, teachers and students will soon be able to attach Google Forms from Drive to posts and assignments, and get a link in Classroom to easily view the answers. 

In case you missed it 

We know YouTube is an important source of educational content for many schools. Because it also contains content that an organization or school might not consider acceptable, last month we launched advanced YouTube settings for all Google Apps domains as an Additional Service. These settings give Apps admins the ability to restrict the YouTube videos viewable for signed-in users, as well as signed-out users on networks managed by the admin. Learn more here.

All of us on the Classroom team have been deeply touched by the teachers in our lives, who inspire us in the work that we do. For me, that’s my brother Tuan, an English teacher at the Chinese International School in Hong Kong. We make these products for you. And we hope these new features will help you kick off another incredible year of teaching and learning.

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Editor's note: It's easy to see how real-time collaboration eliminates frustration from your day or how mobile access from anywhere helps keep your projects moving forward even when you're on the go, but it takes a bit of number crunching to understand the impact across an entire company. To help make this easier, we commissioned Forrester Consulting to quantify the benefits a typical Google Apps for Work customer enjoys.

Companies across the globe face increasing pressure to stay competitive and meet their customers’ needs. Tools that allow teams to share ideas instantly, attend meetings remotely, collaborate from anywhere in real time and work on the go are helping companies innovate and engage customers in this new competitive landscape. These types of outcomes are possible only by “pure” cloud-based architectures that overcome the inefficiencies of legacy desktop- centric computing.

While it’s easy to understand how collaboration and mobility impact our day-to-day work, it’s more difficult for organizations to quantify these benefits in monetary terms.

So Google commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study examining the value that Google customers achieve by implementing Google Apps for Work. Forrester measured the total economic impact over three years for organizations moving from legacy on-premise infrastructure to Google’s web-based solution. To quantify the complete value of Google Apps for Work, including collaboration and productivity benefits, they interviewed six of our current customers. They then aggregated each piece of customer feedback to create a representative composite organization on which to base the development of a Total Economic Impact model.

The composite organization is a global B2B multinational services company with 10,000 employees using Google Apps for Work and $4 billion in annual revenue. The analysis they completed showed that this composite organization would realize millions in collaboration and mobility efficiencies in the course of three years.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • 304% return on investment (ROI)                                                                                                       Over three years, Google Apps for Work generated a risk-adjusted $17.1 million in benefits, outweighing the total costs of $4.2 million and resulting in a risk-adjusted ROI of 304%.

  • $8 million in collaboration efficiencies:                                                                                        Employees can streamline business processes by working together in real -time using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, creating project collaboration spaces in Google Sites, and accessing and sharing files with Google Drive. These collaboration efficiencies save employees up to two hours per week — which, over three years, adds up to more than $8 million in savings.

  • $9 million in mobility benefits and legacy IT cost savings                                                            Google Apps for Work creates an environment where employees can work together, share ideas, innovate, evaluate decisions and improve business performance — all without having to be in a physical office. The ability to work from anywhere and join meetings remotely saves the composite organization more than $5 million in 3 years, while decommissioning legacy servers, software and phone systems saves another $4 million. And $9 million can go a long way.

Though these findings are the result of in-depth analysis, we strongly encourage any Google Apps customer to conduct their own impact analysis to see what specific benefits they experience from using Google Apps for Work. You can read the full study, “The Total Economic Impact of Google Apps for Work,” by visiting g.co/AppsEconomicImpact.

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Editor's note: To learn more about the new features that make Chromebooks ready for work, join our Chrome product team for a Hangout on Air on Tuesday, September 1st at 10AM PT. 

Today, Chromebooks are putting on their power suit. Customers like Netflix, Sanmina and Starbucks have adopted Chromebooks for their ease of deployment, security and ability to integrate well with existing technologies, and a recent IDC study of Chromebooks use in K-12 education shows that Chromebooks require 69% less labor to install and 92% less labor to support than other devices. And with today’s announcements, the Chromebook family gets even bigger and better:

Work-ready devices: Today, the new Dell Chromebook 13 joins the Asus Chromebook Flip and Chromebook Pixel in the Chromebook for Work lineup. Built with a lightweight carbon fiber cover, the laptop comes with a 13.3” FHD IPS touchscreen display, 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processor, magnesium alloy palmrest, backlit keyboard and high-precision glass trackpad. And if you’re often on the road or rushing between meetings, you’ll have the machine power to keep moving, thanks to a 12-hour battery life. Starting at $399 and available for purchase starting September 17th, the Chromebook 13 brings enterprise class performance at an economical price point.


Plays well with others: Using Microsoft infrastructure? No problem. Single sign-on and support for legacy apps mean Chromebooks can now plug right in with VMWare, Dell vWorkspace, or Citrix’s improved Chrome receiver. Connecting to your files is even easier with Windows File Shares (SMB/CIFS), Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive. Need to print? Printing to local printers with Cloud Print 2.0 or to any existing printer using the improved Cloud Print CUPS connector is simple. With the help of a new API, HP supports over 100m+ printers with the HP Print for Chrome app. And connecting just got more seamless VPN support from Pulse Secure and Dell SonicWall join Cisco AnyConnect on the Chrome Web Store (F5 Networks and Palo Alto Networks coming soon).

Manage from the beach: Chesterfield School District deployed 14,000 Dell devices in just a few weeks, and manages almost 32,000 devices today. What’s their secret? The Chrome Device Management console, a cloud based management solution with 200+ features that integrates Chrome devices with your infrastructure and helps manage thousands of devices with ease – from users to networks to applications. We've made enhancements such as domain autocomplete and asset management, making users and IT admins lives easier.

With so many businesses undergoing transformation, shifting to the cloud and rethinking how mobile and devices play into this transformation, Chrome authorized resellers and SYNNEX corporation are ready to help you.

Check out our webpage or join us on Tuesday September 1st at 10AM PST for a Hangout on Air to learn more about Chromebooks for Work.

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Google Slides helps you share your big ideas with the world, but sometimes presenting these ideas can be challenging. In June, Slides added support for Chromecast and Airplay, which made it easier to project your slides on the big screen. Now there’s another new way to share your work: easy presenting to Hangouts video calls. Teammates, partners, clients and classmates can see your ideas, even if they’re on the other side of the planet.


As you get ready for the big meeting, all you need is your Android phone or tablet. With one tap of the present button, you’ll see the option to present to a Hangouts video call. Meetings that are scheduled on your calendar will automatically be listed, so you can be up and running in no time.

You’ll also get a handy look at who's on the call before you start presenting. Once you’re ready to rock, you can use your mobile device to advance slides, view speaker notes and stay on track with a built-in timer.

Presenting just got even easier with Google Slides on Android – available starting today and rolling out over the next few days.