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Editor's note:Today’s guest blogger is Milt Baker, CEO at Blue Water Satellite. BWS is the leading provider of algorithmically enhanced satellite images that identify the presence and concentrations of minerals, vegetation, chemical and biological constituents on land and in water. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business: Maps are Going Google.

At Blue Water Satellite (BWS) we use satellite imagery to monitor the world's land and water resources. Our goal is to change the way these resources are managed by helping our customers get detailed, real-time data about the minerals, vegetation and chemical constituents on land or in water, anywhere in the world. We’re doing it better and faster now that we we’re using Google Earth Engine and Maps Engine to automate the image-serving process.

Our customers need accurate, digital information about the resources in a particular area. For instance, power plants use our imagery to measure water effluent temperature and ensure they’re complying with cooling regulations. Previously, an engineer would have to travel to take manual samples and send them back to the lab for testing. This provided information about a finite area, but didn’t show what was happening in the entire region over time. Our imaging technology makes it possible to get that data without having to get in a boat or car, take samples, then wait for the results.

The richness of our satellite imagery provides valuable information to our customers, but poses a challenge when it comes to delivering data at scale. After being quoted hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single software product that would automatically process and serve our images, we asked one of our engineers to investigate Google Earth Engine. Using Earth Engine, within three days we had figured out how to integrate the functionality we previously got from multiple products in a unified, high-speed, cloud-based solution. Soon we were processing and delivering our imagery using Earth Engine, without buying expensive hardware and software licenses, or training people to use the software.
Using Google Earth and Maps Engine, BWS can deliver processed images to customers seamlessly formatted for any browser-enabled device — desktop, smartphone, tablet — anywhere in the world. In addition to being familiar and easy-to-use, Google Maps imagery is rich in detail and comprehensive. Google has archived historical shots going back to 1984, which means our customers can see how resources have changed over time and note degradation trends. Google also provides ancillary data, so we can see the names of buildings and other physical objects that are in and around the water and land sites.

With nano-satellites, drones and hyperspectral cameras on the horizon, we’re excited for the future of mapping. Google Earth and Maps Engine are very much a part of that vision too, giving us and our customers the processing power we need to improve the way we use data and solve resource issues on earth.

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Editor's note:Today’s post comes from guest blogger Sanjeev Kumar, Group CIO and Group President – Business Excellence of Adhunik Group, a conglomerate in India with businesses in mining, steel and power. Read Adhunik Group’s full story here.

The name of our business is both a moniker and a reflection of our philosophy: just as 'adhunik' means 'cutting-edge' in Hindi, the Adhunik Group is always looking for new ways to innovate, both in creating better products and services and in making our operations more efficient. Our focus on staying ahead is the key to our success. We are one of the fastest-growing conglomerates in India, overseeing more than 15 mines, three steel plants, 1 merchant power generation unit and 14 offices around the world.

Time is money for the Adhunik Group. Our businesses operate round-the-clock, so project delays, mechanical or IT based, can cost us almost US$1 million a day in penalties and costs. We’re always looking for reliable technology solutions that can improve our business operations.

We adopted cloud computing in 2010, but continued to look for more cost-effective, innovative alternatives as we grew. If we had better visibility into our operations, we could accelerate project delivery and make decisions faster. What we needed was a reliable, intuitive platform in line with our culture of productivity. We found our solution in Google Apps for Work.

We felt the benefits immediately. Our employees feel better connected across the organisation with Google Apps for Work, and are able to respond faster to each other. They’re now more energised and showing much higher morale. The numbers speak for themselves: Google Apps for Work is 70 percent cheaper than our previous solution and yet delivers up to a 15 percent increase in productivity. We also see further cost savings because of its reliability and effectiveness. There’s no need for frequent servicing, IT support or customisation.

The technology has completely transformed the way we work. Teams spread across different business units and locations use Google Sites as an internal project management portal to help them work together, track progress and share ideas. The added visibility provided by Google Sites means that everyone can look for ways to improve project effectiveness and optimise timelines. Today, project timelines are more predictable, so we don’t have to deal with penalties from project delays. Instead of sharing files over email, we now store them in Google Drive, where team members can work on them together at the same time.

Customer relationships have significantly improved too with the help of Google Hangouts. We connected cameras that were already installed at our manufacturing sites around the world to Google Hangouts to show customers how we work in real-time. Our customers love it. They can now see the progress of their orders and be assured that their items will arrive on time. This unique capability helps us stand out in a crowded market.

Google Apps for Work has raised our efficiency levels. With Google Apps for Work driving innovation in the company, Adhunik Group can now truly live up to our name.

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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger Meheriar Patel, Chief Information Officer of USV Limited, a healthcare company from India. See what other organisations that have gone Google have to say, and find USV Limited’s full story here.

At USV Limited (USV), we’ve been in the business of pharmaceuticals for more than half a century. Today, more than 4,000 employees work in six offices and four plants in India, manufacturing and marketing our products to 75 countries around the world. We believe that the key for us to succeed in the highly competitive healthcare industry is to constantly innovate on internal collaboration, operational processes and research capabilities. Technology is key to delivering faster market response.

A few years ago, we realised our client-server email system, which we had developed in-house, was inefficient. Our IT team spent too much time trying to overcome storage and bandwidth limitations and hardware breakdowns. Productivity was hit hard as employees lost emails. It was definitely time for us to look for a better way to foster internal collaboration and support growing employee demand for mobile email access.

Google Apps for Work stood out as the ideal solution to achieve our productivity goals. We rolled it out swiftly in all areas of the business, from manufacturing to office operations. Employees found Google Apps for Work very easy to use, while Google's 99.9% uptime guarantees us peace of mind.

Employees appreciate the flexibility they have when it comes to accessing and sharing emails and documents from anywhere, whether they’re on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. We can access business-critical information more quickly too. With our previous in-house system, sales reports used to take us at least 10 days to complete. Now, by sharing sales information in Google Drive, our employees update and analyse sales performance in real-time, and respond to customer demands faster.

We found Google Sites and Hangouts to be great employee-connectors, and morale boosters too. We use templates in Sites to develop internal websites with just a few clicks. Employees can upgrade their skills when they choose with the educational resources shared on Sites. Google Hangouts saves us travel time and costs by connecting everyone in multiple cities and locations. With the “screenshare” feature, we edit documents in Drive and make critical decisions on-the-spot.

Our IT Department also experiences greater benefit from the highly secure system. Google’s Apps Script helps us automate the logging of all IT actions, a requirement for any company operating in a regulated environment. Our IT team now focuses on enhancing the customer experience instead of low-value tasks like spam control and updating security software.

At USV, we believe that successful healthcare companies must continue improving themselves. We are looking for new ways to move forward, with further process automation to connecting with channels and customers directly. And we believe that Google for Work helps us secure long-term benefits for our employees and customers.

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Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is A V Dharmakrishnan, CEO of The Ramco Cements Limited. Read more about RCL Wind Farms’ full story here.


RCL Wind Farms was established in 1993 to help supply power to our group’s cement manufacturing operations. Previously, power costs took up as much as 40% of our expenses. Generating our own captive power gave us significant savings on cost of operations.

Today we have built a capacity of approximately 160 MW of electric power from over 200 wind farms. Some of this is used to power our manufacturing facilities and the rest is sold to the state (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board).

From the start, we wanted everything to be automated. And in the 1980s, we were one of the first companies to have an ERP system. The ERP served us well, generating more than 1,200 reports to support planning and decision-making. However, we wanted to take a step further. We thought about integrating the ERP system with a mapping solution that could immediately show us how individual wind turbines are performing. We envisioned a visually rich dashboard where we could quickly pinpoint areas that need immediate attention.

We found what we needed in Google Maps API for Work. We plotted the location of our 229 wind turbines and integrated this with performance data information from the ERP system. The result is a single screen that tells us all the key turbine performance indicators at-a-glance.

For example, similar turbines located within the same area should be able to produce roughly the same amount of electricity at any one time. On the Google Maps API for Work dashboard, the performance of each wind turbine is marked using a colour coding system. Wind turbines of similar make, in close proximity, should show the same colour coding on the dashboard. One look at the colour bullets will tell us if a wind turbine is not performing at its expected level. This important insight lets us address issues that are impacting turbine efficiency and output levels quickly.

The new solution has also realised benefits in other ways. Using Google Maps API for Work, field maintenance crew can now plan the most effective routes to reach faulty wind turbines. In meetings with vendors, we use the data generated from the solution to drill down our discussions to maintenance and efficiency improvements. Overall, Google Maps API for Work has increased our use of wind farms for power generation by 10%.

Google Maps API for Work helps us turn complex data into simple information that we can use to achieve greater cost savings and efficiency. In fact, with Google Maps API for Work, expanding the use of green power in our business just makes perfect business sense.

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After more than a decade working with customers of all sizes from all over the world, we know that if you encounter an issue with your Google for Work services, you want reliable help—fast. As part of our commitment to customers, we’re announcing improvements to the Google Apps support program to make it even easier for administrators to resolve issues quickly. Here’s an overview of new features:

Chat Support
A couple months ago, we started a pilot for chat support with a subset of Google Apps administrators. Based on the tremendous feedback we received (over 90% were satisfied), we’re now rolling out chat support as an option for English-language Apps administrators globally, and we’ll be adding more languages over the coming months. Admins of verified domains can initiate a chat session directly from our Help Center.
In-Product Help
Finding help should be easy, which is why we put our support documentation and help articles at your fingertips in the product interface. Help is also useful when its contextual — if you’re having trouble in Gmail we want you to have the phone number to call Google without leaving Gmail. To access these resources, sign into one of our Google Apps products, such as Gmail, or the Admin Console then select ‘Help’ from the gear icon drop down in the upper right of your screen. You’ll see a direct link to call Google under ‘Contact Us’ and be able to search our Help Center from the same window.
Hangouts is ready for business
This summer we announced that Google Hangouts is now covered under the same Terms of Service that support our other Google Apps services, like Gmail and Drive. That means we’ve got your back with 24x7 phone support and a guaranteed 99.9% uptime.

Our continued guarantee to you
Over the past few years we’ve been improving our Apps support program to provide a better experience to our customers. We stand behind these improvements and our products, so today we’re happy to announce updated Technical Support Service Guidelines that reflect and guarantee the many improvements we’ve made, including 24/7 phone support for Admins, numerous language options for support, and Google moderated help forums.

So how are we doing? Customer satisfaction is one important way we measure success and a few years ago we set a goal to reach 95% customer satisfaction. We’re proud to report that we achieved this milestone for Google Apps. We’ll continue innovating and improving our support program to bring you new ways of getting expert help quickly.

If we’ve done our job well, you shouldn’t need to reach us. But rest assured that if you do, we’ll help you get the most from Google Apps for Work. So drop us a line — we’re happy to chat!

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(Cross-posted on Google for Education Blog)

Primary school students in rural Australia are using Google Classroom to collaborate with astronauts on the Space Station. A school without any IT support in Mexico was able to go paperless with Classroom. And in the United Kingdom, a Holton, Oxfordshire school is exploring local historical villages and writing reports using Google Apps and Classroom.

These examples represent just a few stories from the more than 40 million students, teachers and administrators around the world who are using Google Apps for Education. Classroom launched this summer to make Google Apps for Education even simpler — saving teachers time and making it easier to collaborate with students. And today, we’re launching 5 improvements to Classroom, focusing on things educators and students around the world told us were most important to them:

Invite students more easily with Groups
If you already have a Google Group set up for your class, you can now use that group to invite students to Classroom. And if your school uses tools like School Directory Sync, your Google Apps administrator can sync your school’s class rosters from your student information system (SIS) into Google Groups, helping you use these groups to set up a class in seconds.
Teachers can create classes using existing groups
Mark assignments as “done”
Not all assignments require students to submit work online — like reading a chapter or conducting an experiment — so we’ve added the ability for students to simply mark assignments as "done" if there's nothing to turn in. We’ve also given the Assignments page a refresh, to make it easier for students to keep track of upcoming work.
Students can mark assignments as "done" if there isn't anything to turn in
Greater teacher controls
We’re also giving teachers greater control over their class stream. Teachers can now set permissions for whether or not their class can post or comment in the stream, they can mute individual students from posting or commenting and can even view previously deleted items in the stream.

Export all grades
Teachers will now have the ability to download grades for all assignments at once, making it easier to export assignments to any gradebook.

Sort by first or last name
And now teachers can also choose to sort students by first or last name, depending on their needs.

We hope that these updates make Classroom even more efficient and effective to use with your students. We'll be making regular updates throughout the year, so keep submitting feedback and stay tuned.

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Until recently though, we relied on a manual, time-consuming and inefficient means of getting food delivered to the right place at the right time. We used to give each of our drivers a piece of paper at the beginning of the day with a schedule and list of drop-off locations. This became quite a hassle if anything changed along the way. If a client’s address was different to the one listed, the delivery time or order changed, or the driver got stuck in traffic, we’d have to jump on the blower and let the customer or driver know what was going on. It was inefficient, to say the least, and made it hard to give customers exact arrival times for their food.