UK Company Adopts Google Apps, Gmail To Collaborate

A UK pest control company with an international presence has standardized on Google Gmail and Google Apps as a way to tie together a diverse company in 50 countries. "This was never about cost reduction. It was about collaboration," said CIO Bryan Kinsella at the Cloud Computing World Forum in London.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

July 14, 2010

3 Min Read

A UK pest control company with an international presence has standardized on Google Gmail and Google Apps as a way to tie together a diverse company in 50 countries. "This was never about cost reduction. It was about collaboration," said CIO Bryan Kinsella at the Cloud Computing World Forum in London.Rentokil Initial is a pest control company with 68,000 employees in 50 countries with annual revenues of $2.5 billion pounds. Kinsella said that means his firm grew into its present operations with 80 email systems using 35 different products, including Novell Groupwise and Microsoft Exchange. It had a similar pattern of varied office applications and user desktops as well. There were 180 different email domains across the company when Kinsella confronted the problem.

By moving everyone to Gmail and Google apps, Rentokil Initial is giving employees whose documents and spreadsheets were previously incompatible a means of sharing information. "What we're doing is connecting information in ways we've never been able to do before." It may help that Rentokil is a UK company and the standard language throughout the company is English. Kinsella didn't explicitly address the language issue. Nevertheless, once the decision was taken, the whole firm plunged into online apps. "I wanted the CIO to be able to press one button and send a message to everyone," he said. Only a cloud-based email system was going to be able to do that.

"We didn't decide to put 20 employees on cloud applications and experiment. We put the entire business on them," he said in an address June 30 to attendees at the Cloud Computing World Forum at London's Olympia Centre. The firm started with 700 employees making the changeover in March 2009; the figure is slated to reach 11,000 this fall. In Kinsella's example, months of expensive integration of incompatible email systems and applications could be sidestepped by sending everyone to the same Internet data center. There was reluctance by employees to change from applications that had been long familiar to them. But "once people got used to them, they became big converts," he said. And in being active on the Google site, they found additional applications, such as Google Maps, helpful in running the business. With the need to find locations of widely scattered customers, Google Maps "proved helpful to all sorts of people in the company," Kinsella said.

Kinsella is careful not to disparage continued use of older applications or the systems on which the company depends that preceded adoption of Google Apps. "I will not use the word, 'legacy systems.' It's disrespectful," he said.

But for Kinsella, the availability of Google Apps and Gmail solved a set of intractable problems for a widely distributed company. "We are looking for other areas of our business where cloud computing can help us," he said.



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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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