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Google Apps Is a Hit At Classic Cinemas

Posted by Tristan Dobbs, Managing Director of IT for Classic Cinemas

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Tristan Dobbs, Technical Services Team Guru for Classic Cinemas, a family-owned movie theater chain based in Downers Grove, IL. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Classic Cinemas has been bringing families, couples, kids and film enthusiasts together in front of the silver screen for more than thirty years – around the time Christopher Reeve donned the famous tights and cape for “Superman” in 1978. Over the years, we’ve grown to 500 employees and over 13 movie theaters in and around Chicago. We’ve also outgrown the film technology we started with. After years of using 35-millimeter film projection systems, we upgraded to 4K Ultra High-Def Digital Projectors. We’re a true 21st century cinema.

When I joined the IT department in 2012, it was clear we were in need of another upgrade – this time, from our Microsoft Exchange server. We had ongoing issues with downtime that cost the company a lot of money and the IT team a lot of time. We looked into cloud-based systems and Google Apps was exactly what we needed – the 99.9 percent uptime sold us.

We switched to Google Apps with the help of Cloud Sherpas in August 2012 and couldn’t have been in better hands. At no point did we ever have a question that they couldn't answer. Data migration? They walked us through each step along the way and made sure we didn't lose a single megabyte. Change management? They ran webinars for all of our employees about moving from Outlook to Gmail, Word to Docs and Folders to Labels. They made switching feel seamless.

We created an employee intranet on Google Sites that houses all our necessary documents – employee schedules, upcoming screenings, movie schedules and parking lists, among others. This means everything important sits in one single place, and everyone on the team can access it. No more wild goose chases over email and no more bothering groups of people with email barrages.

Google Apps also helped us bring our maintenance request system up to date. Before we switched over, people wrote out their problems in a Word doc and emailed them to us, then we printed them out, tracked them on a bulletin board, and took them down one by one as the maintenance team went on-site to handle each issue. With Cloud Sherpas’ help, we built a Google Form on our intranet, so now everyone submits their requests online. The Form automatically feeds into a spreadsheet, which alerts the maintenance team that work needs to be done. We’ve been able to dramatically reduce administration time and boost our productivity to a new level. We now have complete history and statistics capabilities, as well as the ability to identify trends and be more proactive.

Just as digital technology helped us move into the modern era of film, Google Apps has helped us adapt to the future of business. It’s been a smash hit for us - just like “Superman” was back in the day.