Food chain EAT has just released details of its recent Google Apps rollout, arguing that the productivity suite has "increased email capacity by 1,000 per cent, significantly increased ROI and delivered numerous business efficiencies".
The chain rolled out the cloud-based Apps productivity suite seven months ago to help meet its goal of doubling the size of its business. It replaced a 10-year-old Novell GroupWise system.
Cesar Ramanauskas, EAT systems engineer, told Computing that it took a while to get the board to back the deployment.
"Executive buy-in was necessary for a rollout of Google Apps across the business," he said. "We had everything ready to go in July 2010 and then presented it to the directors.
"They seemed keen and said ‘When can we try it?' I was able to say ‘Now' and give them their new Android mobiles straightaway."
Ramanauskas explained that the suite was rolled out across the company within two weeks. "That's testament to how flexible Google Apps is," he said.
The on-demand software suite is being used by 500 of the 1,700 employees across 100 stores and is providing a number of business benefits. One of them is the instant messaging function, which can slash the time it takes to order a delivery of a popular sandwich from a nearby store, for example.
Staff use Google Forms as a way of capturing issues and ideas on improving the business through the suite, which can then be viewed by head office.
And most staff appreciate the way the suite's applications for email, calendar and chat integrate with the latest mobile or tablet device, according to Ramanauskas.
"Having these applications in the cloud means that the system is set up to share information, and managers can check emails on the shop floor: it keeps them doing what they do best – that is being on the shop floor with customers and staff," he said.
He also said that all users were migrated to the new HTC Desire Zin in just one day, retiring EAT's BlackBerry Enterprise Servers in the process, thereby delivering additional infrastructure savings.
The move means EAT has also avoided the growing capital and time expense of owning, running and protecting its own servers. The Google Apps adoption also removed the upfront cost of building the infrastructure required to accommodate aggressive expansion plans to double its high street presence, meaning it can scale its IT as the company grows.
Ramanauskas added that there was no downside to the new system: "We appreciated the flexibility of Android devices with native Gmail, calendar and the latest corporate and management apps, such as Google Apps Device Policy and Authenticator for two-step verification," he said.
Having introduced technologies such as an integrated chip and PIN contactless payment solution in 2008, as well as offering customers free Wi-Fi and an iPhone app, the food chain has also reduced IT costs, as well as disaster recovery and storage requirements, by embracing cloud computing with its Google Apps implementation.
This, in turn, has supported an increase in user satisfaction, productivity and revenue opportunities.
"We are now able to allocate more time and resources to activities that really matter – good service and quality food," said Ramanauskas.