MADRID--Spanish banking giant BBVA announced Wednesday that its jumping from hard-drive e-mailing to the cloud-o-sphere with Google Apps. Its 110,000 employees in 26 countries must seize using Microsoft Outlook and the like by the end of the year and convert to the Google cloud-based system.
BBVA will adopt the entire suite of Google Apps: Gmail with Gchat, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Groups, and Google-related searches, spreadsheets, web-conferencing and videos, BBVA has renovated its Intranet to be on a cloud-based platform.
"We wanted to promote a new way of working among employees, based on collaboration, productivity and being more agile in making decisions. This is why we are making the change," said Carmen Lopez, head of BBVA's department of policy and innovation strategy, in the press announcement of the signed contract.
While Lopez claims collaboration is the predominating factor, it cannot be denied that the continued inability to disconnect from work is a big draw, as well. Google Apps work with all forms of SmartPhones, including iPhones and iPads (of which 3,000 BBVA execs received for Christmas this year,) Blackberrys and Androids. Thus, employees have another excuse to take their work home with them.
Of course, the significantly lower cost of a cloud (or "nube" in Spanish) system must be another reason. BBVA will free up hard-drive space, while having an unknown cost-saver. The official details of the BBVA-Google contract are so far unpublished, but the Google App Web site quotes the charge of 40 euros per user per year, charging BBVA about about 4.5 million euros.
So far, while committing to phasing out Outlook, the banking company is still waiting to decide if it will also replace the Office Suite. BBVA will encourage its employees to use Google Docs as an alternative to Word and Excel, but will wait and see if it is worth abandoning the Microsoft software entirely.
The 35,000 employees, mostly in the human resources and asset management departments, will be the first to start using Apps, with the rest of the world's seventh-largest bank to follow by the close of 2012.
The BBVA contract is Google App's largest to date. Google has only 4 million App business customers, compared with Microsoft Office's 750 million customers. Office 365 is their cloud-based product, but is certainly not nearly as popular as their desktop dominator.
As the world becomes increasingly mobile, it is no surprise that big companies are now hopping on the cloud bandwagon. BBVA is sure to be one of many companies to choose this option for its financial and flexible benefits.
Photo: Self-portrait of BBVA-Spain computer systems engineer Erik Garcés with his iPhone.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com