Tim Levy, co-founder of mobile phone retailer Mo’s Mobiles, is using Google Apps to bypass the IT department — and he is pretty happy with the results.
Mo’s Mobiles has 94 locations throughout Australia and more than 120 staff. Its distribution focuses on outer-metropolitan areas with “an ethnic skew”, according to Levy.
As with many growing businesses, Levy wanted a technology platform that would keep up with a rapidly changing industry and ensure his dispersed group of young retail staff had access to the right information. So he went to the Cloud.
“Importantly for me, we have no IT staff,” he said. “I find small and medium businesses run their businesses faster than their IT department can catch up. It’s such a bottleneck, and businesses like Google that really get the Cloud allow people like me to add functionality to their business.”
Two years ago, Mo’s Mobiles went to the market to evaluate options, opting for Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), SharePoint and Google Apps.
“We played around for a good three to six months,” Levy said. “To be honest, the Microsoft products were, in terms of ease of use at the time, probably ahead. Our staff were more comfortable using Microsoft Office and more familiar with it. But the Google platform had the breadth of functionality and search was fundamental; unless staff can find information quickly, it’s hopeless.”
CIOs discuss why they decided to go Google and the implications for their operations.
Now standardised on Google Apps, Levy said his stores have improved retail execution by 30 per cent, thanks to better information flow and workflow automation.
“We have fine control over what people can do and we’ve been using Google Apps for two years and have had no downtime at all,” he said.
The retailer has also made use of third party applications such as FormAssembly via the Google Apps Marketplace to help control transactions and monitor performance.
“We built it in two days,” Levy said. “It costs us $200 a month for all our stores to use and we have full visibility – we are able to make third parties accountable for doing things for us.”
Levy admits that starting from scratch in terms of the IT environment has made it easier, but he warns if businesses are not looking at Cloud technologies, they are going to be left behind.
Mo’s Mobiles use of Google is serendipitous, given the vendor’s increasing focus on the mobile environment.
“There are some really amazing environments that are coming out now with iPads and tablets where we are getting this strong mix between mobility and power that we are used to in a desktop or PC environment,” Google Apps product manager for Australia, Anil Sabharwal, said. “So the idea of being able to edit and view these things on the go is critical.”
The mobile version of Google Docs allows you to edit and co-edit documents directly from a mobile device.
“We are investing quite a bit on [the mobile space] around Google Docs,” Sabharwal said.
“And from an enterprise perspective, it is important to know that we have a mobile device management tool. That means that as enterprises roll out Android devices to all their staff, if devices are lost, stolen, employees leave and take them with them…all of these devices have the capability your expect from an enterprise mobile environment. The ability to do things like remote wiping and deleting content so that IP from the enterprise that lives on these devices will not go with the phone.”
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