Modest Enterprise Win For Google Apps

Robbie Brillhart had one of those rare opportunities in IT to start over.

The tech press is rife with new technology announcements that sound great, but before most companies consider implementation they have to take their entrenched or legacy systems into account. New software, for example, requires training and may present compatibility issues with the established offering.

But as technology consulting firm Capgemini prepared for this month’s opening of a new contact center branch in Junction City, Kan., Brillhart recognized he had the proverbial “greenfield” opportunity to start fresh, even though Microsoft Office is the application suite of choice at Capgemini overall.

“I realized we had a group who were heavy users of a custom CRM application, but otherwise didn’t need the burden of a full desktop application suite,” Brillhart, global practice lead for Capgemini’s Customer Care & Intelligence group, told Instead the company went with Google Apps Premier Edition, a suite of online applications that includes Calendar, Gmail, Talk instant messaging, Docs and Spreadsheet.

Junction City is currently set up for 165 agents providing service for a specific telecom provider, but the site is expected to grow later next year to 600 employees, providing customer contact for several different companies. Brillhart said only about five percent of the agents in Junction City will use anything other than Google Apps and the CRM software. He also said 90 percent of an additional 2,500 agents he manages at other locations are good candidates for Google Apps. Capgemini has over 80,000 employees worldwide.

Brillhart said cost savings and speed of implementation (a few days, versus the weeks and sometimes months to roll out PC software) played in favor of Google Apps. He also noted some of his users need extra capabilities available in Office, and a few others need to go beyond Microsoft for more advanced analytical applications but, in general, Google provides more than enough for the contact center staff.

Google Apps is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that is distributed and updated via the Internet. Capgemini is paying the standard $50 per user annual fee for the Google software, a fraction of the upfront fee Microsoft charges for Office.

And in some cases, Google Apps has offered more than Microsoft could.

For example, Capgemini is leveraging security features in the Gmail component of Google Apps to check outgoing mail. “We’ve been able to add functionality to protect customer data like social security and credit card numbers. If that data is in an e-mail, it can’t be sent,” said Brillhart.

Another benefit has been collaboration features with Google Apps. For example, the Capgemini users have created a shared space of tips and issues that come up related to customer care. Before it was more of a random document one agent might e-mail to the group, but now it’s a “live” document constantly updated that any of the agents have ready access to. Since posters are identified, not anonymous, the content is trusted.

“It also gives them the freedom to make changes and improve on what’s been posted,” said Brillhart.

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