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Clear skies ahead: The Weather Company forecasts success using Google Apps

Posted by Bryson, Koehler, CIO of The Weather Company

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Bryson Koehler, CIO of The Weather Company, the parent company of The Weather Channel, weather.com and Weather Underground, the most popular sources of weather news and information on television and online. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Most people know The Weather Company from checking out the forecast on TV or from using our mobile app, but we actually do much, much more. Beyond our TV channel and online presence, we sell weather data to business and foreign governments, as well as sell graphic capabilities to local network affiliates. We’re a big, complex organization with a lot of smart people who need the right tools to do their work. It’s my job to make sure those needs are being met.

When I joined the company last summer, one of my first responsibilities was to get all our employees on the same email and collaboration platform. The Weather Company has grown quite a bit through acquisitions during the past year, leaving our 1,200 employees all over the world using a mixed bag of tools. Each business was still working as an independent entity, so getting everyone under the same technological umbrella was crucial to us moving forward.

The choice came down to Google Apps and Microsoft® Office 365. We knew there were strong allegiances to each platform within the company, so there was no clear winner at first. After taking a closer look at Office 365, though, it seemed like a set of individual tools rather than a fully integrated suite like Google Apps. On top of that, Google Apps’ single user licensing was far less complicated than Microsoft’s model. Ultimately, Google Apps was a better fit for our company.

About two months ago we rolled out Google Apps with the help of Google Enterprise partner, Cloud Sherpas. Though change management was definitely a large undertaking, we do feel that the switch brought the company together. It helped us untether people from the traditional corporate collaboration approach of searching through multiple versions and waiting as documents were passed from one to another - something I desperately wanted to do. The culture of our company and the IT department is changing, and Google Apps was a great catalyst to get that moving in the right direction.

We’ve only been live for a short time, but Google Apps has already changed how we work. Google Docs have caught on like wildfire, and people can work from anywhere as long as they have Internet. I see people bouncing around between their laptop, a tablet, their Android phone or whatever – it’s seamless. We’ve also started using Google Drive to replace personal Box and Dropbox accounts that people had been using to share documents, so we’ll have centralized control of our intellectual property. We’re going to roll out Google+ companywide to replace Yammer, although Google+ Hangouts have begun to spread organically. Our marketing, sales and PR teams all use Hangouts to meet, and one employee set up a Google Chromebox and a monitor to create a Hangout station in his office.

Google Apps has created a real sense of excitement at The Weather Company. People are really exploring and embracing it, and that’s exactly what I wanted to see. As we’re abandoning the traditional top-down IT department mindset, all I can do is provide a toolkit for people to work with. Google Apps gives them those tools and lets them work.