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CIO's call: Google apps in the workplace: News podcast

Google applications are popular among employees but may hurt productivity. CIOs have to decided whether or not to allow employees to continue using Google apps in the workplace.

Listen in as Zach Church, former news writer for SearchCIO-Midmarket.com, discusses the benefits and drawbacks of allowing employees to use Google applications in the workplace. While the integration offered by Google apps may help employees do their jobs, CIOs have to consider whether to block the application in order to keep productivity up.

Read about how Google applications may affect your workplace.

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Read the full transcript of this podcast below:

CIO's call: Google apps in the workplace: News podcast

Hi. This is Zach Church, news writer at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com.

Add one more to your list of applications, Web-based or not, to keep an eye on. Unlike social networking, games, and standard instant messaging, the new Google Apps Team Edition might actually be the most productivity-stimulating unsanctioned application that IT departments are confronted with.

But the free, user-friendly application suite still makes an end run around CIOs by encouraging employees to do their work outside of a boss's watchful eye, and it's going to be up to IT departments whether they want to do anything about it.

Released earlier this month, Team Edition -- essentially a bundle of Google's Web-based document programs, calendar-scheduling program, and Google Talk -- will flirt with popularity. Forrester Research Principal Analyst Chenxi Wang believes it may be a big hit. Wang cited that, although it is intended as a business application, Team Edition takes a consumer-oriented approach, and that it is also free and fairly simple to use.

Key to that consumer feel of Team Edition is that users sign up independent of their IT departments. Like Google Maps, Google Pictures, and Google Blog Search, to name a few, Team Edition is simple, colorful, and uncomplicated. Once signed in using an email address from their employer's domain name, employees can use the application to invite their co-workers and others using the domain name to join.

In some business sectors, engineering, for example, Wang thinks Team Edition could be a godsend for employees who thrive on constant collaboration with their peers. But from a corporate standpoint, she said, IT departments lose control. A useful tool, yes, but not for highly-regulated industries.

The standard cautions apply. Employees storing and sharing documents, spreadsheets, and the like will be doing that on Google servers, which could present a compliance problem in some industries. There is instant messaging included, a feature that still makes some executives wary. And there exists the possibility that sensitive business information could be shared with the wrong people inside the business.

So Team Edition becomes something of a judgment call for CIOs, but it's a call they'll have to make. Wang predicts popularity, and to hear Google tell it, the whole thing is on its way to becoming a worldwide hit.

Google Marketing Manager Jeremy Milo said university students, employees at thousands of small businesses and at Fortune 500 companies all spontaneously began using Team Edition in the program's debut week. He would not say how many domain names have users registered, or how many users are registered overall.

Milo emphasized that Google understands some CIOs won't want this used in their company, and encouraged their IT leaders to sign up for the administrative control options on the Google Team Edition homepage. Those options allow CIOs to change the company domain CNAME record or upload an HTML file provided by Google, proving they are in control of the site. Once that's done, they can control which employees can use which applications, or they can shut the whole thing down altogether.

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