Editor’s note: Last week, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps power businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using the product in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Scott Crowley, SVP & Chief Information Officer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, a part of HomeServices of America, the nation’s second-largest provider of total home services.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, is the largest REALTOR® in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We’re constantly looking for competitive advantages to recruit and retain experienced agents, while also appealing to the next generation entering the workforce. Because our more than 4,000 sales associates spend most of their time on the road, all the tools need to be available on mobile phones and tablets. They need to access important information at their fingertips, whether they’re in the car, a property site or at one of our 65 offices.
A little over a year ago, we realized that not only was our technology platform lacking the mobility our workforce needed, but our sales associates and employees were not solely using the technology we provided them. They were looking elsewhere for IT solutions, forwarding work email to personal third party accounts for additional storage and using third party cloud storage providers. We needed a solution that could provide the same quality of technology tools to our users without them going outside of IT — and knew Google Apps was the answer. After running a pilot with our IT department last July, we migrated our more than 5,000 users to the new platform throughout with winter with the help of Cloud Sherpas, our Google Apps reseller.
The move to Google has enabled us to provide our users with an all-in-one communication and collaboration platform to increase productivity and efficiency by bringing our tools together in one place, with one login. Among the additional benefits that Google Apps provides, it’s easy to use, works seamlessly with mobile devices, and offers significantly more storage space.
Google Drive allows us to share documents instead of sending attachments back and forth, making it easier for teams to work together on projects more effectively and collaborate on live documents. Not only is Drive transforming how we collaborate and collect information from around our footprint, but it also provides a great cloud backup, especially as a personal disaster recovery solution in case hardware fails or mobile devices are lost or stolen. Google Drive works for any kind of file type, not just Google Sheets, Slides and Docs — which is important in a business where we still work heavily with PDF contracts and photos for listings. Today, everything is automatically stored in the cloud for access from any device, anywhere.
We’ve been using the shared Google calendar to revamp our closing process. Instead of calling remote offices to book rooms, our coordinators can now schedule the settlement, invite all parties involved and book the room all at the same time. If the settlement gets postponed or moved, all participants are notified immediately, saving critical time and making us more efficient.
With the flexibility of Google Apps, it’s much easier for us to integrate with other systems. Via Google Sync, we can push and pull contacts directly to and from our CRM, providing our sales associates constant access to all leads as they arrive, particularly on their mobile devices. Our transaction management system allows documents to be uploaded directly from Drive, which eliminates the need for local storage and makes working from a mobile device a true advantage.
We’re constantly growing our usage of Google Apps products. Our IT department uses Hangouts to help diagnose problems for remote staff, allowing them to resolve issues faster and provide better support. Later this year, we plan to use a combination of Google+ and Sites to replace our existing Sharepoint based intranet.
With Google, we get a technology partner, not just a vendor. We receive several updates a month, instead of waiting for bi-annual releases, each providing new innovative functionality to our company. No one asks
“what version of Google apps are you running” — everything is up to date without IT intervention. Our sales associates and employees now have the ability to work and communicate in one platform, making the entire company more efficient, integrated, and successful.