Google Docs: can you work without it?

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 Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

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 Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • ho hum - why bother asking Tel$ra about a compeditive brand. They will rubbish anything that competes against their MS cloud. I use both flavours of word processors depending upon the customer/client.
    To use the same camera analogy : if your target is web pictures then anything will do as low res is all you need.
    You pay for the Tel$ra pivilage : MS Live has MS Office: Google has Doc's.

    ( BTW i use my A300 more than my D1 because of the potential replacement cost where i use it )
  • We have just implemented Google Docs in our organisation and it fits the bill for 95% of the stuff we do. The reality is that in most organisations very few people use anything other than the basics of office/outlook etc. Google Apps is becoming more and more sophisticated all the time and closing the gap quickly in functionality. As for callaboration and pricing, nothing comes close to google docs it is miles ahead. Whether you like it or not at the moment the truth is they have the right model and others will need to follow or be left behind.
  • Google docs is absolute crap. It can't even honour a document's formatting and fidelity within an enterprise let alone when you send it beyond the firewall. Imagine that document is your CV, a tender response or your final assignment. Massive FAIL !!!!!
  • So what happens when your internet is down?? Please remember, all your data is stored on servers outside this country. That means access to the data on those servers is dependant on the laws of the country/ies the particular server/s may be hosted in. If that country decide they want access to the data on that server located in their country, Australian laws will not protect you and do not apply. You would have to mount a defence in court in a foreign country to stop it. Is it really worth puting your companies data at risk?
    Why Knot
  • try zoho docs, it is amazing
  • i love google doc unconditionally. when i use google doc years ago, other clouds r so inferior. no compare at all.
    this days, msoffice, open office r getting better. but google doc always r master with touch. do, done, on the cloud, easy, beautiful.
    complications, yes, when things won't come down. getting simple ? perhaps whole lots are.