Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rogers Wireless Speed Test: LG Nexus 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3 vs. LTE Hotspot

Our customers are always asking for our advice on smartphones. Apple's iPhone is very user friendly and a great choice, and as a Canadian I really hope RIM succeeds with BlackBerry 10 but I'm concerned that they may be too late to the party to get a seat.

But we're all Android fans since Android-based phones integrate so nicely to the Google Apps platform and the Google ecosystem as a whole. Android phones have been on the market since 2008 and in the third quarter of 2012 accounted for a full 72.4% of all smartphones.

Yesterday I received the popular and hard-to-get Google Nexus 4 built by LG.  The Nexus 4 (with 16GB of storage) costs just $359 in Canada (even less in the US), unlocked, and without a contract! It is a "pentaband" phone which means it works on nearly all GSM carriers worldwide!

It's a top-spec phone that is just as speedy as my wife's Samsung Galaxy S3, but it doesn't have LTE. So to help others in deciding if they can live without LTE, I did side by side speed tests on the Rogers network:

Download Speed
Upload Speed
LG Nexus 4 HSPA+
3109 Kbps
987 Kbps
Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE
11423 Kbps
7013 Kbps
LTE Hotspot (Sierra 763S)
21647 Kbps
5458 Kbps

LTE is certainly faster than HSPA+, but using the Galaxy S3 and Nexus 4 phones side-by-side on media-intensive apps like Google+ the difference is barely noticeable. YouTube videos certainly start up a touch faster over LTE than HSPA+.

The side by side usability difference is not sufficient to make me regret the purchase decision, and I love saving $220 over the outright price of $599 for the Samsung Galaxy S3. I also have the added benefit of getting the latest Android software directly from Google as soon as it's released, where S3 owners will have to wait months on end to receive Android 4.2 and its new features like Photo Sphere.  Even my two year-old Google Nexus S received Google Now long before S3 owners did. The S3 also comes pre-loaded with carrier applications that you can disable but not remove. The Rogers Visual Voicemail plus app constantly nags you that it doesn't work over Wi-fi even if you don't have the service.  Rogers also has to approve the S3 software updates which delays getting new features after Google releases them.

The bottom line is I highly recommend the Nexus 4 smartphone for Canadians, and at its current price, there's almost no reason to buy anything else. Let's just hope LG and Google can catch up with the huge demand. I think it will have an impact on smartphone prices worldwide. Google's disruptive move, delivering a flagship phone for a value phone price, demonstrates their continued industry leadership and innovation.

Samsung S3 on Rogers LTELG Nexus 4 on Rogers HSPA

Test Notes:

  • Android application and website on MacBook with Google Chrome used for testing.
  • Nexus 4 Android version 4.2.1 on Rogers Wireless network using HSPA.
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 Android version 4.1 on Rogers Wireless using LTE.
  • Rogers LTE Hotspot Sierra Wireless Aircard 763S tethered via USB to a Macbook Pro. Wi-Fi Hotspot speed test results were lower than USB.
  • Rogers LTE has a theoretical download speed of 100 Mbps.
  • Rogers HSPA has a theoretical speed limit of 21 Mbps.
  • The LG Nexus 4 has HSPA+, capable of 42Mbps speeds.
  • 1 Mbps = 1024 Kbps.
  • Nexus 4 LTE hack was not tested since it causes other issues like breaking Google Now.
  • Your results will vary depending on your location and time of day.  This was done on the window sill in our office in Mississauga where I show 3 out of 4 bars on the Nexus 4.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Norada Solve360 CRM and Xero integrate beautifully in the cloud!

Congratulations to the Norada team on officially becoming a Xero Cloud Accounting Software CRM Add-on! is proud to be a Norada Solve360 CRM Strategic Partner and a Xero Certified Partner.

The Xero integration shows your customer's outstanding balances right on the Solve360 company or contact record.  You're only 1 click away from creating a new invoice, syncing the contact info from Solve360 to Xero, or opening the customer record in Xero.
At we believe that the next killer business application in the cloud won't come from one vendor; instead it will be a multi-vendor fully integrated solution like Solve360 combined with Xero and Google Apps.

In fact, we've already replaced the expensive all-in-one cloud ERP solution from Netsuite at a customer site with Xero, Solve360, Freshbooks, Google Apps, and Mailchimp.  The customer's employees love the greatly improved functionality, ease of use, and on top of all that they're saving thousands of dollars per year in license fees.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Secret Gmail Feature Is Hiding In Plain Sight...

This is an awesome Google Apps Gmail tip posted on Gizmodo.

Including the entire chain of text from prior emails is not necessary due to conversation threading in Gmail.

A quick way to help your email replies be more focused and concise is to select the relevant text in the email you want to reply to, then hit the reply button.  Only the selected text will be quoted.  Continue your reply as per usual.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tips for "The new compose in Gmail"

Google Apps users now have the option of turning on "The new compose in Gmail".

Note that you've always been able to Shift-Mouse Click the Compose button to open your new message in a separate web browser window.  You can also click the small black up arrow on the right hand side of the "To:" field to open in a window after you've started composing.

We are bringing this to your attention because the new compose button is missing lab features like Canned Responses and doesn't appear as a separate window on your Windows taskbar making it harder to find when it is embedded in your main email tab.

Certainly try it out.  You can always switch back to the prior compose interface from the arrowhead menu at the bottom right corner of the new compose feature.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 becomes a Xero Certified Partner

Blair Collins, a Certified Management Accountant and Google Apps Certified Specialist has passed the necessary exams to become a Xero Certified Advisor.  This also means is officially a Xero Certified Partner and able to integrate your business with our favourite small business online accounting solution.  Xero boasts over 110,000 customer's worldwide and has grown 118% from last year.
Here's why we like Xero:
  1. Collaboration - Xero's software is integrated with Google Apps so you're only 2 clicks away from opening the financial dashboard and doing your accounting in real time.  No separate passwords to memorize, but still completely secure and encrypted.
  2. 100% Web Based Cloud Computing - Work from anywhere, at anytime, on any device.  Too many vendors are distorting the definition of cloud computing; you can't be 100% web based without starting from scratch and building a new product.  Why is your accounting system still running on traditional on-premise servers and computers that are expensive and cumbersome to remotely access?  Just open your web browser and get to work.  No software to install, patch, upgrade, secure, or backup. It just works.
  3. Continuous improvement - Just last week all Xero customer's gained the ability to do online invoicing instead of emailing pdf file attachments.  Due to its modern technology platform, Xero can deliver continuous improvement without interruption.
  4. Web Services API - Xero's Application Programming Interface allows us and other vendors to extend Xero's functionality.  It's why you can combine Solve360, Freshbooks, and Google Apps with Xero and they integrate rock-solid reliably and in a simple manner.  Our customers are never stuck with accepting what Xero provides them because we can program extensions at a reasonable cost.
You get all this for a mere $39 USD per month for as many users as you need--there is no limit.  Contact us at for more details.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 team member is re-certified for Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist

Google requires that all Google Apps Deployment Specialist's recertify every 18 months.  The Google Apps product changes frequently so it's important that specialists maintain their Google Apps skills.

Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist

Back in March of 2011, when our first team member passed his specialist exam there were 3 million organizations on Google Apps and over 2,500 Google Apps Authorized Resellers worldwide.  Today over 5 million organizations are on Google Apps and over 6,000 organizations are resellers. is proud to maintain our elite status as 1 of only 2 Google Apps Premier Authorized Resellers in Canada.  Our best guess is that only 40 organizations worldwide are Premier Authorized for Google Apps.

Is your current consultant a Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chrome web browser print preview problem, and why you need .NET Framework

Google’s Chrome is now the most popular Web browser worldwide, surpassing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the first time in May 2012 according to StatCounter.

We’ve run into an issue several times wherein a user will attempt to print a web page or document using Chrome’s default print preview rather than the standard Windows print preview screen, but upon actually sending the job to the printer it simply vanishes. Chrome thinks it’s printed the job and so keeps on going but the job is never actually delivered to the printer. Another variation of this problem is one where the user will try to print a document or web page but Chrome simply doesn’t load the print preview properly and the job can’t be sent to print at all.

Keep in mind that this issue only applies to systems running Windows XP.  Newer machines running Windows Vista and Windows 7 do not experience this problem.

There’s a simple fix for this issue and it comes in the form of Microsoft’s .NET Framework. Downloading and installing the latest version is always recommended anyway (just like Windows Updates!), but for systems that are running outdated versions of .NET (older than 3.5), this issue will nearly always crop up. The most up-to-date version Microsoft has published is .NET Framework 4.5, but the issue is resolved with version 3.5. Downloading these, or newer, versions of the .NET Framework will resolve the printing issues, and users should be able to print from Chrome as they would from any other web browser.

Now that you've got Chrome working properly, the next step might be taking a moment to think about retiring Internet Explorer...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blair Collins from presenting at CMA Ontario's Simplif•IT: Technology Foundations for Finance Professionals

Get the Job Done with Google: The consumerization of IT and what Google can do for your business beyond search, today!
A fundamental shift... There was a time when business technology was at the forefront of innovation and productivity. IT professionals have stopped innovating and rely on a handful of vendors who design bloated software that gets released every few years. At the same time, consumer technology has taken off. With the power of massive data centers, modern browsers and smart mobile devices at their fingertips, people find it easier than ever to communicate, create, and collaborate. Many people have fallen in love with the simplicity and freedom of these services, and they want to use them everywhere.
Learn more from and what solutions from Google your business can be using today! Plan now for the massive impact "The consumerization of IT" can have on your business now. Learn why Canadian Google Apps customers like Hoffman-LA Roche, Genetech, Solutions Stores-Your Organized Living, Golf Town, Delta Hotels, AMJ Campbell Van Lines, Feronia, Taylor Moving, Greenwood College, The York School and others love hitting "Refresh" on their business technology.

CMA Ontario Tech Symposium
Google+ Event

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Google Apps Script: How to retrieve more than 200 items from a List Page

We're constantly building customer solutions for Google Apps, Solve360, Freshbooks, and Xero with Google Apps Script and Google App Engine.   Below is a handy tip for Google Apps Script developers.

Google Apps Script
Posted on behalf of Cameron Roberts, Senior Developer,

When interacting with a Google Sites list page via the Google Apps Script SitesApp service, the documented getListItems() function returns only 200 items, while the maximum length of a List Page in sites is 500 Items. This function takes advantage of undocumented parameter values that can be passed to getListItems() to retrieve all items in batches of 200.  

   Function: getAllListPageItems(page)
  Parameter: page - An instance of the Google Apps Script Services "ListPage" class.
Description: A robust function which uses undocumented Google Services functonality to retrieve ALL items from a list page. At time of writing (June 2012), the Google Services getListItems() method returns only the first 200 items of a ListPage. This function will catch failed API calls and re-try until all list items have been retrieved. This function will also throw an informative exception if the passed parameter is not a valid ListPage object.

Usage Example:
   //retrieve items from list page and write to Log.

   var page = SitesApp.getPageByUrl('');
   var items = getAllListItems(page);

   for(var i in items){
       var item = items[i];
       //..Perform your processing on list items here.

Written by Cameron Roberts,


function getAllListPageItems(page){
  if(page && page.getPageType && page.getPageType() == 'ListPage'){
    var items = [];
    var start = 0;
    var size = 200;
    var failed = false;
        var item_batch = page.getListItems({start:start,max:size});
        failed = false;
        items = items.concat(item_batch);
        start += size;
        failed = true;
    }while(item_batch.length == size || failed);
    return items;
    throw 'Parameter passed to getAllListItems was not a List Page: '+page;

The relevant post from Google, which exposes the undocumented functionality, is

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Canada tops for mobile data loss

The HR Reporter recently shared a study by the Ponemon Institute which Crashplan also highlighted on their blog. notes:
  • Corporate mobile devices and the bring-your-own device (BYOD) phenomenon are rapidly circumventing enterprise security and policies in Canada.
  • 71 percent of 421 respondents in Canada agree the use of mobile devices in the workplace is important to achieving business objectives.
  • 72 percent of Canadian respondents also believe these devices put their organizations at risk — and only  half of the organizations surveyed have the necessary security controls to address the risk.
  • 58 percent of the organizations experienced data loss resulting from employee use of insecure mobile devices.
  • Canada and Italy ranked the highest out of 12 countries surveyed for mobile data loss.
Bottom line is Mobile devices are a huge security risk.  Smartphones can store an immense amount of sensitive emails and contact databases which may easily fall into unfriendly hands.

Google Apps has excellent built in Mobile Device Management that allows customers to remotely wipe the synced data contents of iPhones, and Androids plus enforce password and screen lock policies.  You can even control and approve what devices are allowed to connect to your organization's Google Apps data.
For Blackberries we offer a Google Apps integrated Blackberry Enterprise Server solution for $10/device/month with similar capabilities for remote wipe of data, etc.

There are no complex integrations requirements or other extra costs for Mobile Device Management with Google Apps for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices.  There is no need to purchase expensive 3rd party solutions like RIM Mobile Fusion that exceed the $50 USD/year/user cost of Google Apps.  Zenprise is another Mobile Device Management solution with prices starting at $40/device/year.

Contact us at to learn more about protecting your organization's valuable data with Google Apps.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The rumours were true... Announcing Google Drive

On April 24th Google announced Google Drive, a new way to access and share all your files and folders, at any time and on any device.  Google Drive replaces and enhances what you know today as your Google Documents List.

Google Apps users now have a fantastic alternative to other cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, Egnyte, and Box.
An immediate benefit to Google Apps customers is that your 1 Gb non Google Docs storage limit has been expanded to 5 Gb.  The storage of Google Docs format files is still unlimited.

Effective this week Google Apps Resellers like us can sell you Google Apps domain licenses for additional storage that you can then assign to specific users.  Pricing starts at $4/month for 20 Gb.

Think of Google Drive as your personal stash of files and folders that follows you wherever you go - it lets you keep everything and share anything. With Google Drive, you can access files, folders, and Google Docs from a web browser or any device where you've installed your Google Drive.

Your Google Drive is in the cloud, but you can also install the desktop and mobile application to access your files from your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other Android or iOS mobile device, in addition to the online interface at Google Drive's built-in sync capability ensures that your files, folders, and Google Docs are the same on all your devices.

To try it out visit

Note that currently only rapid release domains will see Google Drive.  Scheduled Release domains will see it in Phase 2 for which a timeline has not yet been set.

Contact us at if you'd like assistance with configuring Google Drive, purchasing licenses, or understanding better how this might help your business eliminate file servers completely!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Crashplan vs. Mozy

We've been Mozy users since 2009 for cloud online data backup but had read various positive reviews for CrashPlan.  Two months ago we started testing it out and have completely switched over all our workstation and server backups to CrashPlan.  Today we cancelled our Mozy account before it renews.

Here's what we like about CrashPlan over Mozy:
  • easier to understand user interface
  • no lengthy delays selecting or changing which files are backed up.  On a home theatre PC with 23,000 files and 125 Gb I would open Mozy and go get a coffee before I could start making changes.  Then when you pressed OK it was another long delay.  No such long delays with Crashplan.  We had a similar even longer delay in selecting files to backup with MozyPro (business version) at a customer site on their file server.  We had to give up and put the customer on Storage Guardian which works fine but is way too complex for most small businesses to manage.
  • Windows Servers can be backed up without any additional cost or restrictions with Crashplan.  We must admit that we were cheating by using MozyHome and running a batch routine to copy files from the file server to a workstation to then be backed up in the cloud on Mozy.  Crashplan runs fine on our old Windows Server 2003 file server directly.
  • 3 way backup/social backup that's easy to setup.  Have a brother with some extra hard drive space?  You can use Crashplan for free and back up your data on his computer and his on yours over the internet.  Inside our office we backup both to Crashplan online and to a large hard drive on one of the workstations.  We do this because restoring from a local drive copy will always be  faster than downloading it from the web.
Certainly contact us at if you would like some assistance with deploying your online data backup and disaster recovery plan.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Show your customer addresses on Google Maps

Do a Google Search on mapping customer addresses and you'll get all sorts of overly complicated ways to do it with third party stuff, etc.

Google Spreadsheets does it very easily "out of the box", well that is... in the cloud for free.

Follow these steps published by Google: to use a gadget for mapping addresses from the rows of a Google Spreadsheet.  Last column as tooltip is how you can show the customer name.
In our case we used a Google Apps Script to populate the rows of the Google spreadsheet instantly from our Norada Solve360 CRM using this:

So now with a few clicks we can display a real time map of our customer locations and refresh it instantly.

If you have a more complex reporting/spreadsheet need that might require Google Apps Script programming contact us at


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Apps Vault brings better integrated email archiving to Google Apps

As a Google Apps Postini Authorized Reseller we've handled numerous implementations of Postini email archiving and message security.  While Postini has great technology its user interface was ages behind the simplicity of Google Apps.  We're definitely excited about the release of Google Vault which is so much better integrated into the core Google Apps product.

Google Apps Vault eliminates all sorts of administrative headaches for Google Apps and Postini customers such as managing duplicate user lists, email aliases, and email distribution groups across the 2 systems.

Currently Google Vault is only available to new Google Apps customers but we expect Google to allow the migration of existing customers from Postini to Google Apps Vault soon.

By the way, Google Postini is still the best cloud spam and virus filter for Microsoft Exchange or other emails servers on the market.  It will continue to be supported and enhanced for the long term as there is a huge install base of existing users.  Since ~90% of all email is spam, Google Postini removes this heavy load from your internet data lines and on-premise Exchange server.  When we switch customers from an on-premise firewall based spam filter to Postini or Google Apps they are often shocked by the dramatic drop in load on their internet data lines.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google Apps integration with

We've helped lots of customers configure their integration to Google Apps.  From that experience we've learned which Salesforce AppExchange for Google Apps products work well.

We like Cirrus Insight.  You can lookup the relevant Salesforce data as soon as you open an email in Gmail.  Plus it's all done in the Cloud so there's no software to install. Just configure it once and everyone in your company can use it.

Contact us if you need help with the set-up or more advanced tricks like only showing the Cirrus Insight Gmail Contextual Gadget to some users instead of all.

Friday, March 23, 2012 Website Relaunch

Check out our relaunched website at!

The site is 100% based on Google Sites so it's super easy for our team to update it and we pay zero hosting fees.  If they are logged into their Gmail/Google Apps account it is only a few clicks away to start editing the site.  No separate passwords to remember.  We can also set page level permissions to allow team members to modify only certain sections.

We have the right talent on board that can do amazing things with the Google Sites platform.

Our Contact Us form is live integrated into our Solve360 CRM; so no re-keying of information from emails and a task is assigned to a team member to follow-up.

Let us know if you would like a quote on building your own website with Google Sites!

Thursday, February 23, 2012 team member becomes Google Apps Certified Sales Specialist

As part of the launch of the new tier of Google Apps PREMIER Resellers effective Feb. 14th, 2012, myself, Blair Collins, has received the Google Apps Certified Sales Specialist Certification.  We were part of the beta exam process so we're among the first in the world to receive the certification.

Details on the requirements can be found at: is pleased to be able to further differentiate ourselves in the Google Apps Marketplace with two Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialists, a Google Apps Certified Sales Specialist, and our Google Apps PREMIER SMB Reseller status.  Very few organizations in the world have achieved this level of recognition.

Deploying Google Apps is what we love to do!

Is your current provider Google Apps certified?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Custom reports for Freshbooks, Xero, and Norada Solve360

We've been building custom reports for Norada Solve360 CRM in Google Spreadsheets for a while and realized that since Freshbooks has a published open API we could do the same for Freshbooks customers.

In our case we wanted to know billings/revenue by employee.  The default Freshbooks report lumps the full invoice amount under who created the invoice not who generated the billable time entry.

Our custom report directly grabs the invoice line items via the Freshbooks API so updating the report with the latest data is as simple as clicking the menu option "Refresh Invoices".

Freshbooks Billings by Staff/Employee

Since it is programmed in Google Apps Script inside Google Spreadsheets sharing the report is a snap and you can use the invoice line item data to populate pivot table reports.  Pivot Tables in Google Spreadsheets allow you to slice the data any way you choose for billings by week, by task, by rate, etc.

All the Javascript like code runs on the Google infrastructure so there is zero software to install or manage and zero recurring costs.

Contact us at if you'd like to purchase your own copy of this report or have us build a different report specific to your needs for Freshbooks, Xero, or Norada Solve360.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Becomes a Google Apps Premier SMB Reseller announced today that it has become a Premier SMB Reseller of the Google Apps™ suite of communication and collaboration tools. This new designation from Google enables customers to more easily assess a reseller’s expertise advising on and deploying Google products. has moved from an Authorized to a Premier Reseller based on their expertise and success in helping customers deploy and use Google Apps. was launched in 2009 to help small and medium businesses (SMB's) leverage Google Apps for an enterprise class email, calendar, and document collaboration solution that's easy on the wallet, simple to use, and allows you to be productive from anywhere, with anyone. Our solution offering has grown to include Google Apps integrated products such as Norada Solve360 CRM/project management, Freshbooks billing, Xero accounting, plus custom programming on Google App Engine and Google Apps Script.

Google Apps brings simple, powerful communication and collaboration tools to organizations of any size – all hosted by Google to streamline setup, minimize maintenance, and reduce IT costs. With Gmail (including Google email security, powered by Postini), Google Calendar, and integrated IM, users can stay connected and work together with ease. And, using Google Docs and Google Sites, which include word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and website creation tools, they can share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever users work.

The Google Apps Reseller program includes companies globally that sell, service and customize Google Apps for Business for their customers. As a part of the Apps Reseller program, receives training, support and deployment tools from Google, as well as access to APIs for integrating Google Apps into their customers' business operations. To learn more about becoming a Premier Reseller, including eligibility criteria and benefits, please visit the Google Reseller Program website:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Feronia Inc.: Bringing a Company Together with Google Apps

Founded in 2008, agricultural enterprise Feronia Inc. has spent the last several years pursuing a far-reaching ambition: to develop large-scale, sustainable agriculture in Africa. Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with a network covering thousands of square miles, Feronia is a formidable operation that has quickly built itself a prominent reputation within the DRC and beyond— it is not only one of the largest employers in the DRC, but also the first African agri-business to be listed on a North American Stock Exchange.

Of course, overseeing such a large network of 4000 employees spread throughout a developing nation larger than the size of Western Europe that includes three palm oil plantations, a farming operation, and headquarters in Kinshasa, was a sizable task for the company in the beginning.

“There were virtually no communications [systems] on the plantations– it was very ad hoc.” says Bill Dry, Chief Executive Officer of Feronia. Everything from daily operational demands like time logs to “big picture” details like the refurbishment of the plantations were stalled again and again by a lack of a manageable and comprehensive system of communication across the enterprise.

“If you can imagine,” Dry elaborates, “these plantations have been operating for 100 years in very remote locations… to run our business on a daily basis we need information and reporting.”

Making day to day operations manageable… in a country the size of Western Europe

Feronia decided to reach out to Interlockit for a viable and sustainable solution, and found it with Google Apps. “We made a strategic decision to [migrate] on to Google,” says Dry. “It was the best solution for our company and in the region. With 4000 people, we have payrolls to do, cash to move around… we need up-to-date numbers to do our business. In the past, this was a very difficult thing to do. Now, we’ve got the daily input we need to manage our business.” 

The retrofit of the plantations was also facilitated by the transition. “With a big refurbishment program and bringing equipment in from overseas, we have to schedule all of our plans and paperwork… Before, this was taking a long time to filter down to headquarters— now we can get [the information] on a daily basis.”

Enjoying the benefits of communication

An unexpected benefit of migrating to Google Apps was what it did for company morale. Many of Feronia’s managers are based in rural areas on-site at plantations and isolated from their families in the capital city of Kinshasa. The flexibility of Google Apps communication interface has made it dramatically easier for these key players to stay in touch with their families. This has eliminated stress and increased productivity for the company. “In addition to being an excellent communication tool, [Gmail] is also a very good social tool,” says Dry, “It means that our workers are more content working there.”

Plus, with Google Apps the company is able to fulfill an obligation not only to its employees, but also to the 45,000 people who live within the vicinity of their plantations. “We are the only business in those regions… we have a lot of people relying on us. Prior to us taking over, there were no communications in place for those workers.” Now with Google Apps in place, the company is able to support a communication infrastructure for the entire community. This has resulted in some considerable savings for the company, according to Dry. “When you have had zero communication, just the delay of trying to operate on a daily basis has a huge [financial] impact on the business.” Since implementing Google Apps to facilitate daily operations and communications, the company has experienced thousands of dollars in cost savings on a monthly basis. 

Google Apps also helped facilitate relationships with current and potential shareholders outside the DRC, according to Sangeet Sood, President & CEO of Osaka Capital, the firm that handles Feronia’s investor relations. “We track all conversations with investors [with Google Apps] through our CRM,” says Sood, “that’s how we do a lot of our outreach. Everything is connected seamlessly from our email into our database of contacts which is thousands of names, actually. The integration has made it very easy to successfully communicate with our investors.”

Looking to a productive future with a sustainable solution 

In the end, one of the biggest assets for Feronia in partnering with Google Apps is that, as an agri-business focused on sustainability, Feronia was able to align itself with a solution in lockstep with its company ethos. Feronia has always been focused on pursuing a green agenda in its operations across its enterprise and was pleased to be able to eliminate the need (and energy drain) of extensive servers by pursuing an environmentally efficient cloud-based strategy with Google Apps.

Moving forward, Feronia sees Google Apps as the right fit for expanding the company’s business and operations. Plans are in place to grow Feronia’s farming operation using a Brazilian model of farming that is new to the DRC— a user-friendly and comprehensive communication system is just what Feronia needs to make this work. Plus, Google Apps flexibility and user-friendly structure is a system that Feronia knows it can grow with, whether they are relying on young, tech-savvy graduates or older management who are unfamiliar with technology. “We know as we move forward that more people in the company will use it more, understand it more and we’ll benefit more.”

Google Docs copy