Google adds analytics for Apps admins

Google Apps Premier customers can now point Google Analytics at their domains.

Google Apps administrators can now point Google's Web analytics tools at their systems and gain detailed insight into how users are working with Google Docs and Google Sites, according to a company blog post Monday.

"Want to see how many employees checked out your company's new travel policy? Curious if your European sales team is taking advantage of the same resources as your US team? Because you can slice and dice usage information for content by hour, day, week, month, user location, browser type and more, answering these kinds of questions is easy," wrote Nick Cooper, a Google Apps engineer.

Google has made it easy for administrators of Google Apps Premier and Education Edition to invoke the new capabilities from their control panels, according to Cooper: "Just go to the 'Advanced Tools' tab, click 'Setup Google Analytics' and enter the profile ID number from your Google Analytics account to begin collecting usage data."

The announcement drew mixed reactions from Google Apps users on Tuesday.

Tom Kelly, CIO and chief financial officer of 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, a retail chain based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, said the company has already been using the analytics for some time, because it often serves as a beta tester on new Apps features.

The analytics have helped the company drive Apps adoption by tracking which employees are logging in and which are not, according to Kelly. 2nd Wind has 300 Google Apps users.

"Those that are not, we reach out to and find out why and help them get into the system," he said via e-mail. "It also serves another purpose in that we are a [software as a service]-based company and there is a direct correlation between employees not logging into Apps and the other SaaS offerings we use to run the company."

But Darryl Shippy, vice president of technology at TruckMovers in Kansas City, Missouri, said the service would be only "marginally helpful" even if it was available to companies like his, where about 40 people are using the free version of Google Apps.

"I don't see it as a big benefit," he said. "All of our employees have to use Gmail, Google Docs, et cetera, to simply get their jobs done. I, personally, wouldn't gain much by seeing statistics on how much traffic they are doing with Google Apps."

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