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5 Lessons from Using Google Around Globe

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Is Google (GOOG) global-business ready? I just spent a month and 22,000 some-odd miles finding out.

One of the raison d'etres of international Web powerhouse Google is that it's, well, international. The Mountain View, Calif.-based software firm's world-conquering vibe -- and sky-high equity valuation -- comes in part from the steps the company takes to support the world's roughly 7 billion citizens.

Get online and Google Apps really is a global player -- but the farther apart its users, the less likely real-time collaboration gets.

Its interface works, by my count, in 149 languages. Including, no lie, "Elmer Fudd." (Here, look it up yourself.) And there is country-specific content for consumers for most every nationality.

But for businesses, the global Google is a trickier deal.

Google Apps for Business, its work-oriented package of word processing, mail, document and presentation tools, does work in many languages. But I as a business owner couldn't care less if the world's businesses can use it; I care if my business can use it.

So I arranged for the ultimate test. I committed to creating about two dozen written pieces, including several for this publication, on an extended business trip from New York to Michigan and then to Las Vegas, Paris, Amsterdam and finally northern India. And I planned to do them all using Google Apps for Business. My collaborators reside in southern Arizona, New York and southern Florida. My firm pays for the upgraded Google Apps for Business product, which offers a service-level agreement and live customer support for $50 per user, per year.

Here's my read on Google's global "skillz:"

1. Assuming you have Web access, Google works.
Assuming you can get online, Google Apps for Business really did let my business be a global player. The critical core tools of mail, documents, basic calendars, chat and even video were stable from the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas to Gurgaon in suburban Delhi. Assuming your people know what they are doing, there is no reason why you cannot create documents, spreadsheets, project plans and otherwise conduct business anywhere on Earth without ever attaching a file -- or being out of touch with the absolute most current information in your shop. It's pretty darn cool.

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