October 29, 2021

Google Cloud Next: Cobry’s Highlights

Google Cloud Next is an annual summit, held by Google, which celebrates the achievements of its customers and partners, and announces Google’s plans for future innovation. This year's summit took place recently and, as you can imagine, there were so many exciting things mentioned that we just had to shout about. We decided to pick the brains of each Cobry Department and have gathered what we believe were the show-stopping announcements. Firstly, we address the elephant that’s in everyone's rooms. The new world of work and how Google is supporting customers in sailing these changing seas. 

Fuelling collaboration in the future workplace 

As work was changing rapidly before our eyes, Google's focus was on providing solutions and tools to allow users to work from anywhere. Now that these are sturdily in place, thanks to Google Workspace, Google is turning its attention to Collaboration equity. 

Prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic, work, for most of us, meant travelling to a physical office location. During the pandemic, remote work became essential and we all had to familiarise ourselves with working at home and communicating virtually. Now, as we begin to move to post-pandemic, hybrid work is surfacing as a popular trend where organisations are implementing a mix of both in-office and remote work. 

Whilst this is an exciting new approach to work, it doesn’t come without its challenges. For example, team members may find it more difficult to participate in meetings to the same level of their colleagues, depending on whether they are there virtually or physically. 

In order to combat such disparities, Google has been working hard to develop innovative products which will allow employees to fully embrace new ways of working. For example, Companion Mode in Google Meet is a new feature which is designed to seamlessly connect virtual and in-person attendees by giving everyone advanced participation tools. 

The feature provides everyone, no matter their location, with interactive tools such as live captions, polls or hand raise, whilst leveraging the best video conferencing and audio capabilities. The idea is that colleagues in the same room together can connect visually and audibly to the meeting through use of a Google Meet kit. Meanwhile, enabling Companion Mode on their personal devices to connect and collaborate with remote colleagues. 

Empowering all users to build their own solutions

Continuing with the theme of the new working world, Google recognises that modern work requires employees to switch between contexts and tools more than ever before. Therefore, during Cloud Next, Google announced the brand new integration between AppSheet and Gmail. 

AppSheet is a no-code application development platform which tightly integrates with Google Workspace. It allows users to build apps and transform business processes. The beauty of AppSheet is that it is no-code. Meaning that you don’t need to have any development knowledge in order to create and deploy a valuable app. 

Now that AppSheet integrates with Gmail, Google is providing employees with even more opportunity to streamline processes, work more efficiently and regain time previously taken up by manual tasks. For example, users may create processes where budgets or holiday requests can be approved or create asset management systems directly from Gmail. This is an amazing new innovation which further enables organisations to customise their use of Google Workspace. Building a platform which satisfies their unique needs.

Making data sing, no matter the cloud

Each cloud has its own unique advantages. Understanding this, savvy customers have been adopting multi-cloud strategies in order to reap the benefits of each cloud. This, however, can cause some friction when users want to analyse data which sits across various clouds. Traditionally, to do this, you would have to move, or copy data from one cloud to another. Resulting in an extremely clunky and inefficient process. 

At Cloud Next, Google announced the general release of BigQuery Omni which will solve this problem for millions. Big Query Omni is a data analytics solution that enables you to access data across Google Cloud, AWS and Azure. This means that you will be able to gain critical business insights all from the same user interface. As well as use the same BigQuery APIs and standard SQL. In addition, since BigQuery Omni is powered by Anthos, you won’t have to manage the underlying infrastructure, you can just get straight to querying data. 

Data accessibility is pivotal for organisational decision making across organisations whose criticality will only become stronger as multi-cloud adoption increases. Therefore, development of BigQuery Omni by Google will provide customers with unparalleled support in gaining business insights and making transformative decisions. 

Building a more sustainable future, together

To round things off, we’ll take a look at a topic that is central to the culture and goals of Cobry - Sustainability. 

Google has already accomplished great sustainability feats, such as the use of 100% renewable energy and being carbon neutral. Now, it is pledging to use its unique position to help others do the same. It will do this by developing innovative solutions that will empower organisations all over the world to measure and reduce their environmental impact. During Cloud Next, Google announced its newest sustainability innovation - Carbon Footprint. 

Carbon Footprint is a product which provides customers with the gross carbon emissions associated with their use of Google Cloud. By logging into the GCP Admin Console, users can find such information and use it to measure, track and report on their own gross carbon emissions. Of course, net Google Cloud operational emissions will remain zero. With such strong reporting opportunities, organisations are able to demonstrate progress towards climate goals to employees, customers and boards. As well as uncover insight into how they can further develop sustainability efforts. 

This announcement is really just a drop in the ocean of all of the amazing sustainability initiatives that Google carries out. Nonetheless, a hugely exciting one as it provides customers the opportunity to understand their own emissions and do their part in the fight against climate change. 

So, as you can hopefully see, a lot to celebrate and a lot to look forward to this year with Google, and of course with Cobry! There’s nothing we love more than to help customers get the most out of cloud technology and apply it in a way that will positively impact business as well as the world around us. If you’d like to find out more about how we can support you in implementing the Google tools, please get in touch.

October 22, 2021

5 Google Calendar features that will transform your work schedule

For many of us, our calendars are the lights navigating us through our world of work. They tell us where we need to be, when we need to be there and what we need to be doing. Understanding this, Google has been adding great new features to the tool that will make schedule planning simple and speedy. These great Google Calendar features are the topic of conversation in the latest episode of the Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the Cobry team's favourites.

Collaborating in Google Calendar

As ever in Google Workspace, the collaboration capabilities available within Calendar are second to none. You can share your calendar, view those of your colleagues and even manage secondary calendars, should you need to. At Cobry, we find that having access to one another's calendars enables us to easily schedule meetings whilst respecting our colleagues’ other meeting commitments. Essentially, It means we can spend more time doing valuable work instead of playing the game of ‘does this time suit you?’ ping pong that we all know too well!

Setting your working hours 

Whilst this seems like a simple feature its impact is mighty. Within Google Calendar settings, you are able to define your working pattern which can be viewed by your colleagues. Once you’ve set your pattern, you also have the option to auto-decline meetings outside of these hours. Meaning that, if someone invites you to a meeting at a time that you don’t work, it will automatically be declined with a note sent to the organiser explaining why. 

In addition, working hours in Google Calendar can be synced to other Google tools such as Google Voice. Therefore, if someone calls your number outside of your working pattern, the caller will be automatically forwarded to your voicemail. This feature helps you to clearly define the line between your working and non-working hours, which for many has become slightly blurred as a result of remote work; and more importantly, stops you working when you shouldn't be!

Set your working hours in Google Calendar

Creating recurring events in Google Calendar

Using the recurring events function in Google Calendar is a great way to streamline the process of creating meeting events and reduce the time spent doing admin tasks. Whether you have meetings which recur daily, weekly or at an even more granular period, you can easily specify this in Google Calendar and eradicate the pain of setting up multiple meetings. 

Recurring Events in Google Calendar

Calendar Resources

Calendar Resources are a feature within Google Calendar which, if set up in the admin console, enables users in your organisation to book shared organisational resources such as rooms, equipment or company vehicles. For example, organisations using a 'Hot Desking' strategy for hybrid work may want to add their desks as calendar resources. Employees can then check desk availability in the resources calendar and book when they'd like to use one.

Additionally, admins can generate reports for calendar resources to understand how employees are using them, what’s most in demand and when. Thus, enabling important strategic decisions regarding business resources to be made.

Google Calendar Insights 

To round off this episode of the Cobry Cafetiere, we have one of Calendar's newest features - Calendar Insights. The feature allows you to see a breakdown of metrics related to meeting events. For example: the average number of hours per week spent in meetings or on which days you attend the most meetings. This is a really exciting development in Google Calendar - or scary if you spend a lot of time in meetings! At Cobry, we have been using the information given to us by Calendar Insights to evaluate how our time is distributed at work and what we can do to ensure we are using our time as effectively as we can. This is yet another amazing feature from Google that has helped us transform the way we work for the better.

Hopefully it's clear by now that Google Calendar has an abundance of features that are designed to help users work better together, maintain a good work-life balance and win back some valuable time. All of these initiatives will support teams whether they work in office, remotely or in a hybrid environment.

If you want to find out more about Google Workspace for your organisation, get in touch!

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