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BBH fosters international collaboration with the help of Google Apps

Posted by Ian Dobb, Interim Global CIO at BBH

Editors note:Today’s guest blogger is Ian Dobb, Interim Global CIO at the renowned advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH). Ian led the implementation of Google Apps for Business across five different countries for BBH’s 1,000-strong workforce. Ian Dobb is co-founder of Ionico. He was brought in to BBH to lead its IT change programme.

At BBH, collaboration is the cornerstone of developing award-winning advertising campaigns. As BBH expands its global coverage, staff are increasingly required to work on projects that have team members in multiple countries. Our international workforce of creative thinkers wants to operate without boundaries and not be held back by clunky email systems and restrictive mailboxes. The previous email system, Lotus Notes, did not live up to the demands of this modern and vibrant workforce.

With the help of Google Apps deployment expert and partner Appsbroker, we implemented Google Apps throughout the organisation across 1,000 staff, a move that completely transformed the way our teams now work together and share ideas.

In addition to email and calendar, many employees now use Google Talk to chat with each other, and they hold multi-person video chats through the Hangouts feature in Google+. For instance, the global executive team, including the Group CEO, recently held a meeting via a Google Hangout. This spanned multiple time zones and three continents. Cutting back on using a third party video conferencing service and associated data comms circuits will save BBH approximately £100,000 a year.

Google Apps also proved its worth as a mobile working and business contingency tool. Last winter BBH employees in London arrived to work to discover the basement was filled 5 metres deep with water due to a broken sprinkler valve, leaving the main building without power, where 450 people work. Google Apps was invaluable in keeping staff up and running. With the help of Gmail, Google Chat, Hangouts and Docs, work continued with minimal disruption while staff worked from home or from local cafes.

With the help of Appsbroker, we’re now building a custom app on Google App Engine to help feed creative thought at BBH. The app will help teams search and browse the vast BBH database of ideas and inspiration, making sure nothing is forgotten and lost in an archive file. It’s an exciting prospect for a business where intellectual property is the key currency.

With so many benefits and some exciting future prospects, we are confident that Google Apps and its constantly expanding range of collaborative features will aid the creative process for BBH staff by making it simpler for them to share ideas, streamlining processes for fast-paced teamwork, and giving clients a more responsive, dynamic service.