Woolworths staff equipped with iPads, Google Apps

Preview of Google+ for businesses launches with restricted posts.

Woolworths is using iPads and Google Apps for Business at its grocery stores to increase collaboration and streamline support to headquarters.

Woolworths last week gave iPads to 890 supermarket store managers, Woolworths head of run IT, Damon Rees, wrote on the official Google blog.

“Our managers can now stay abreast of administrative tasks while still maintaining their shop floor presence and focusing on their customers,” Rees wrote.

“The mobility has been further bolstered with the collaborative power of Google Apps for Business, as each Woolworths Manager now has a Gmail account.”

Woolworths added a custom application built on the Google App Engine called Tap for Support. The app lets Woolworths staff submit support tickets to HQ.

“In an instant, a Manager can log a support request for example to fix a faulty freezer and get back to the multitude of other tasks at hand,” Rees wrote.

The app is built, hosted and stored on Google infrastructure, he said. “This removes many layers of complexity, and the simple licensing on consumption structure means it can scale very quickly when we need it to.”

Google apps are easy to use, cloud-based and device agnostic, supporting existing and future IT infrastructure, Rees said.

Woolworths rival Coles recently tapped Microsoft Office 365 to create its own cloud-based staff portal.

Also this week, Google expanded its business products by launching a preview of Google+. Organisations can use business features of Google+ free through the end of 2013, it said. Google plans to add more features and administrative controls as the preview progresses, it said.

A new business feature on Google+ is the ability to restrict a post so that it can only be read within the organisation and cannot be re-shared publicly.

Kaplan and Banshee Wines have been pilot customers on the Google+ business service, Google said. Kaplan, an education publisher in New York, uses Google+ Hangouts for many of its meetings, the company’s CIO Edward Hanapole said in a recent post to the Google blog.

“We're starting to see great usage of Hangouts across our business,” Hanapole said.

“Greg Marino, CEO of the Kaplan Higher Education Group, uses Google+ Hangouts to stay regularly connected with his organization's Chief Difference Makers, employees from around the country who help drive employee engagement at various sites. He finds Hangouts convenient, simple to use and cost-effective. As time goes on, I expect usage to increase across our operations.”

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