If you’re using Google’s document feature, you already have access to full-featured spreadsheet, word processing and forms-based software. For months, you’ve been able to attach tags to files created by each, automatically convert documents temporarily or permanently, and share them on a document-by-document basis.
My favorite part has long been the ability to have a complete audit trail of any changes made to any document. Now Google has added… search. Yes, I know you’re yawning, but Google’s new document search is far different from anything you’ll find on a PC. Now you can search your email and your Google documents for a phrase.
Say what you will about Google, but the company knows how to search stuff. This is a tweak, but it’s an important tweak. Your takeaway as a small business is that you can create online versions of any popular office suite application that is at least as full featured as Microsoft Office. And maybe most important, you can upload existing documents from your hard drive to your Google account.
Now your backup is tied to your Google account rather than the server in your closet or a pay service somewhere. If your client or the other person doesn’t want to use Google’s applications, save your file as a PDF and send it to them that way. But every client I’ve worked with for the last 18 months has started the ROI model with us in Google docs, and this process just plain works.
The IT crowd has told us since at least 1980 that the single biggest point of failure for a computer is the mechanical drive. Google applications remove that layer of failure and allow sharing. Privacy watchdogs continue hounding the company to ensure your data is not inappropriately used. This is a win-win. If you’re not using Google documents now, give it a try. If you are and want to try the new feature, it’s located in the LABS section of Gmail.