Google Docs: can you work without it?

Summary:Google Docs is a popular cloud-based word processor, spreadsheet, calendar and email application provided by the search giant. But should you deploy it in your business?

Google Docs is a popular cloud-based word processor, spreadsheet, calendar and email application provided by the search giant. But should you deploy it in your business?

Definitely not, according to Telstra's chief technology officer Hugh Bradlow, who argues that Google Docs doesn't contain enough functionality.

"Google Docs as a word processing and spreadsheet application [which] is great if you want to do simple things, but it is simply not up to the capabilities of a Microsoft Word or even an Open Office for doing serious work," he said.

But surely it has enough features for a small business? Apparently not.

"It's very limited in my view. Even for small businesses, I think you want to do a lot more than that," he said.

Bradlow dislikes Google Docs so much that earlier this year he threatened to throw his laptop at the company's then CIO John McInerney if he implemented it.

"That was probably one of my more regrettable remarks but I said it," admitted Bradlow.

Despite this, he wanted to clarify that he wasn't anti-Google and likened the applications to consumer and professional DSLR camera models.

"By the way, I am not knocking Google, I love what they do. It is not a go at them; it is just not the same thing. It is like the difference between your Canon 1D [MKIV] and me wanting to get a Canon 500D, right? Different purposes.

A Canon 1D MKIV camera costs around 10 times more than a Canon 500D.

But Bradlow's comments were a surprise, especially since during the IT Priorities Roundtable events, panellists seemed very keen on Google Docs.

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In Mumbai, Yogesh Dhandharia, administrator from manufacturing firm Rashi Peripherals, said that his company's move to Google Docs was "working like a charm".

Almost half the panel members in Sydney had already migrated to Google Docs while in Melbourne, but Kevin McIsaac revealed that although IBRS uses Google Docs for email and calendar, he keeps a copy of Microsoft Word handy for sending proposals to potential clients, the majority of whom still use Office.

So is Google Docs good enough to be used as a core business productivity suite? Unfortunately, the answer isn't clear cut.

As with everything in IT, it depends on your needs. After all, even after everything he said about Google Docs, Telstra's Bradlow admits to using it regularly.

"I still do use Google Docs at home for various things. Every time I do something on the computer I make a note of it on Google Docs because I know if I have to do it on my wife's computer I can look it up on the browser, wherever I am. So I use it as a form of note taking but it is not a proper word processing application," he added.

Do you agree with Bradlow? Is Google's word processor good enough for everyday use? Can you relate to McIsaac, who uses both, depending on specific needs?

Topics: Google, IT Priorities


Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.Munir was recognised as Austr... Full Bio

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