Today we hear from Thomas Rizzo, CIO at Contoso, a manufacturing firm headquartered near Seattle.
Lured by promises of “proven cost savings,” a year ago today we switched all 1,200 Contoso employees to Google Apps for Business. Finally, we’ve decided enough is enough. Yes, you’ve got that right: we’re moving back to Microsoft.
Why, you might ask? Our experience, to put it mildly, was a tad frustrating.
I quickly learned that Google Apps for Business costs much more than the listed price. Fifty dollars per user a year was just the tip of the iceberg. We still had to buy several solutions to cover web conferencing, archiving, better IT administration, and like most Google Apps users, we found ourselves using Microsoft Office to do most of our work. Next came all the IT and user training required to get our employees up to speed on Google Apps. No more lunch time office yoga for me!
After finally implementing Google Apps for Business, we worked very hard to persuade our 1,200 employees to actually use the service, giving them every incentive we could think of, from complimentary downloads of Angry Birds to free copies of Justin Bieber’s hit movie, Never Say Never.
Despite our efforts, after eight months hardly anyone had migrated. Much like employees at the District of Columbia, most continued to secretly use Exchange & Outlook, clumsily switching to Gmail whenever an IT person passed their desk.
Puzzled, we surveyed our employees to find out why. The survey revealed that Google Apps was costing our staff hours upon hours in lost productivity and real frustration. Using Gmail, for instance, many employees complained they were wasting precious time searching for specific emails. And when they opened a Word file using Google Documents, graphics disappeared while revisions and comments appeared jumbled together as plain text. Some tore their hair out; others began to call in sick.
For the 10 people in our workforce who are visually impaired, productivity was even a bigger challenge. Since Google Apps wasn’t compatible with their screen readers, they weren’t able to get any work done at all. Frustrated and confused, many of our employees turned to knitting to drown their sorrows, decreasing their productivity even further.
Hoping for help, we reached out to Google’s recently implemented 24 x 7 phone support. The support person was friendly, yet never deviated from her script. I spent lots of time on the phone answering her endless questions. When the grilling was finally over, she bumped up the call to a ‘real’ expert who told me a fix didn’t exist. That’s when the real problem finally occurred to me: Google Apps for Business just isn’t a priority next to advertisements, consumer products, and new products like Google+.
The next week, Google Apps went down in our finance division, leaving 58 people unable to work. When we called Google, we were told that 58 people with no service did not qualify as downtime. By their definition, the system was not truly down unless more than 5 percent of users were affected. They were sorry, but to receive a service credit, 61 employees needed to be without service, not just 58. As a result, the finance division issued employee paychecks three days late, creating a near mutiny.
A couple of months later, we noticed our profits had begun to fall. Upon further investigation, we discovered that one of our top competitors had started to produce the same signature widget that we do – for a dollar less. We had no idea how they had figured out our secret. We later learned that because Google doesn’t support Information Rights Management, email message recipients can easily edit, forward, or print sensitive information. One of our employees had leaked out our secret without us knowing it!
We also realized we weren’t closing as much business as usual. When we talked to our resellers, they told us they weren’t able to insert images uploaded to Google Docs into their Google Presentations. Without any images, our sales presentations were boring, with prospective customers visibly fidgeting in their seats. Even worse, many of our salespeople were missing customer meetings. Why? Because with Google Calendar, they weren’t getting any email reminders.
Last month, things came to a head. The Contoso workforce occupied the IT department offices chanting, “Enough is enough.” When some of the management team approached, they pelted us with pies. Reluctantly we brought out the riot gear, tasers and pepper spray, to get them to retreat. When we finally sat down at the negotiating table, we learned that the Contoso workforce had only one demand – that we abandon Google Apps and return to Microsoft.
At that moment, I realized they were right. Enough is enough. There’s a reason why 750 million users count on Microsoft Office for business productivity – because it works!
My advice to you: Don’t be fooled by Google.