2. You never have enough Web access.
As powerful as Google Apps is, it means you absolutely must be connected to the Web. And on this trip that took work. Sure, it's possible -- I logged on in a crowded Vegas parking lot and in a crowded taxi behind a camel-drawn cart in Uttar Pradesh. But to do all this Web connecting I took not one but five different mobile network options: a domestic Wi-Fi hotspot from Verizon (VZ), a Samsung Galaxy Tab from Sprint (S), a Novatel (NVTL) Wireless hotspot from a company called XCom Global, an AT&T (T) globally roaming phone from LG and a BlackBerry (RIMM) supplied by Tru. And thank heavens I did, because Google Apps forced me to use every single one. I rapidly become my own mobile global IT officer. And even I, a professional geek, wore down in the process.
3. Real-time collaboration tends not to work across great distances.
Even when connected, clearly there are things Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin did not think through when they dreamed up Google's collaborative approach. Namely, once your people are more than, say, six time zones apart, the real-time collaboration features at the core of Google Apps break down. We were able to collaborate between Vegas and New York; but once in India, critical layout, spacing and even words were lost. If you are dealing with global teams, Google rapidly becomes a file-sharing tool, where single users make changes one at a time, not a real-time collaboration tool.
4. Keeping team calendars synced was surprisingly challenging.
While basic calendars absolutely worked -- we could see each other's rough schedules -- scheduling was tricky. Why? It seems that when I built my calendar in Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. and traveled to India Standard time, my original events stayed in their original time slots, 12 some-odd hours too late. Google tries to put those events in one's current time zone, but that never quite worked for us. So meetings and events had to be updated by hand, which defeats the purpose. If you rely on Google Apps calendar functions across the globe, make sure you double check appointment times. They may be wrong.
My little digital world has been all about Web-based collaboration for years. And during this trip, everybody here needed every last moment of that experience. The main problem is part of the team is asleep while the other part was awake, so the quick-connect options such as chat, text-messaging or a quick call that grease the Google Apps collaborative wheels were not available to us. It turned out to be far too easy to work on the wrong document, mismanage notes and otherwise not get the right content where it needed to go. If you are getting spread out around the globe, it is not the time be learning how to collaborate online. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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