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Scranton Gillette stays current across centuries with Google Apps

Posted by Joel Hughes, Senior Vice President of eMedia strategy and IT at Scranton Gillette

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Joel Hughes, Senior Vice President of eMedia strategy and IT at Scranton Gillette, a media and publishing company based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Scranton Gillette has been around for more than a century - we’ve lived to see the first Model T, a man walk on the moon and the birth of the Internet. We’re a media and publishing company, so you can imagine our industry has changed quite a bit since we were founded 108 years ago (typewriters, anyone?). It's not easy to keep afloat in the business world, let alone in a market that’s undergone so many massive and fundamental changes. But we've been fortunate enough not only to survive, but to thrive, and we owe much of that to our technology.

We first opened our doors in 1905 as a publisher dedicated entirely to the transportation construction industry. We’re still a publisher, and we still cover the transportation construction industry, but now we're a full-service media agency that covers a variety of verticals and helps with everything from website development to event planning. Just as we've outgrown our publisher roots, we've also outgrown the slow-moving stereotype that many associate with the publishing industry. To us, speed and technology are essential to growing our business. Technology can make or break an organization, so if our solution fails or slows us down, we won't hesitate to find something newer and better.

That’s exactly what happened over the Fourth of July weekend in 2011. Our Exchange server died during the holiday break and left us without email or access to our shared company files. We'd been considering a switch to Google Apps for a few months, so this shutdown solidified our decision. We couldn't be tied to a physical server anymore, let alone an unreliable one. We needed a more trustworthy system that would let us be more quick-moving and nimble, and we knew that meant moving to Google Apps.

By the time our employees returned to the office after their Independence Day barbeques, we’d already started our migration to Apps with the help of our reseller, CloudBakers. We haven’t looked back since.

Apps has completely changed the way we communicate. We’re headquartered in Illinois with a satellite office in Arizona, and we want our remote workers to feel just as part of the team as everyone else. Hangouts do exactly this: they facilitate a closer connection and collaboration that conference calls just can’t match. Google Chat is equally integral to our day-to-day. It’s perfect when you’re not in the right place to hop on the phone and need a quicker response than an email typically gets. We didn’t have a dedicated chat client before we moved to Apps, and I can’t imagine going back to that way of working.

Google Drive has been the biggest eye-opener for us. Documents are our lifeblood, so it's essential for us to have a robust system around organizing and sharing them. Before, we just saved everything to our hard drives and sent files back and forth as attachments. That got messy and confusing fast. Drive gives our documents a better, safer, more accessible home. Our employees store their spreadsheets, presentations, mocks and proofs in one place and share them to the right people with just a few clicks. Our marketing team, for example, has a folder on Drive dedicated to campaign materials, knowing that everyone collaborating on those campaigns—internal and external—can access all the images, ad copy, videos and proofs they need without having to search through their mailbox. It’s comforting to know that every document we need can be found in Drive.

A company can’t survive for over 100 years without the ability to see trends before they happen and adapt based on those trends. That’s not always easy to do, so you need a technology solution that can adapt as quickly as possible. With Google Apps, we're confident we have the right tools to last us another century.