Google Apps

Do you ever recommend Google Docs to smaller clients?

Google Docs seems like a flexible and affordable solution for small businesses (it's free), yet a recent study found that nobody's using it.

 If a company has more than one employee, chances are they're collaborating on something. Typically, they e-mail documents back and forth. The more employees involved, the more documents they exchange, and the harder it is to incorporate all the changes. Even worse, the potential exists for someone's edits and comments to get lost in the shuffle.

The Microsoft shop big enough to deploy SharePoint doesn't need help. Still, even small businesses have choices, such as Microsoft Office Groove and Office Live Small Business. Beyond what Microsoft offers, there's also Google Docs, a Web-based office suite that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Users share the documents with one another and decide who can view and edit. Google Docs' features are impressive:

  • Users can view and edit a document simultaneously.
  • Users can see other viewers as they edit.
  • Users can make comments rather than edit content directly.
  • Google maintains a copy of each revision and users can revert to earlier versions.
  • It's free!

Google Docs seems to supply a viable alternative for expensive collaborate software; however, there are some limitations:

  • Users must have a Google account, which really isn't a deal-breaker.
  • Google can (and does) change the suite without informing users.
  • Applications are limited; power users will balk at the limited features.
  • You can't control security.
  • Shared documents are on Google's servers, not yours. It's not the right place for company accounts and confidential documents.

Google Docs should be wildly popular, but an uncontrolled survey found no one recommending it for their smaller clients, and I'm wondering why. Is there just no market for it, or are users leery of putting documents on a foreign server? Have you recommended Google Docs to any of your smaller clients?

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

7 comments
andycho
andycho

i like the idea from the beginning. and I tried to use it myself. but... 1) docs on web is just too clumsy 2) learning curve/strangeness of it scares people 3) there's no market for it... (People/company who wants it free, just don't make money for us)

tpham
tpham

I would recommend it but not for my company, we have way too many important docs to just use a freeware edition and to have it on another server other than ours is not cool too.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

There have been many cases where documents that have been 'deleted' have re-appeared, others that have been made public. As far as privacy and security go - there is NONE. Who knows what happens when certain 'sensitive keywords' contained in the documents are recognized by Google? One wonders what it would take for Homeland Security to be alerted.

paul.vaysberg
paul.vaysberg

I feel it would be fantastic if the whole offer was available as an appliance that I can host at my own data center. This would really open up the door for many uses. It would be kinda like the Google search appliance.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... but how many clients send sensitive information over unsecured email? I'd trust Google Docs about as much -- though companies really should do a better job of securing their information.

william.r.thomas
william.r.thomas

I like the general idea for nonsensitive documents but the app itself is clumsy - it doesn't use the same concepts as applications people are used to using. I would like something like it on a virtual appliance that I could plug into the network - that would be cool.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Both a great for those than can't afford the extortion money for MS Office.

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