(Editor's note: This is a guest post by AAPT COO David Yuile)

As a challenger telco in the competitive Australian market, AAPT has worked closely with Google in the past couple of years to get the most out of the technology opportunities available to us - using search in smarter ways, and using Google Maps and Google Earth when it has made sense as a way to better visualise and plan our operations and communications with customers. These decisions were easy – Google’s technology was leading the way, and we were committed to being at the cutting edge. The decision to ‘go Google’ for our internal IT infrastructure was a tougher decision at a philosophical level than a technical one, because it fundamentally concerned a new way of working within enterprises, but it’s a decision we haven’t regretted. Let me tell you about our journey to go Google.

Feasibility phase
The first, and perhaps most fundamental question we had to answer was around how much control we would have when we adopted more open, social collaborative methods rather than more traditional enterprise methods. The breakthrough for us was in realising that both worlds can exist and people will use the methods that best suit them. With this decision made, we quickly moved on to what the business case would be and what benefits we would gain.

Most of the tangible benefits were in the Gmail and storage arena. However, we were rolling out only Google Video and Google Sites in our ‘Phase 1’, with a view that Gmail would quickly follow. We resolved that Phase 1 was “strategic’ (a euphemism for ‘gut feel’) and would significantly contribute to a more engaged (and hence productive) workforce.

15 days before go-live:
With the business case approved, we moved into implementation mode. Firstly we had to convince our security guys that we were all still safe, and then we started to tackle the old “single sign on” chestnut, believing firmly that we need to embrace ease-of-use as a core principle for this and many other things. It was a really interesting experience, as along with Google we were really educating our security guys on the robustness and security of the cloud, a new area for them.

Next, we moved into the test phase, with about 20 of us. Here, we picked up and solved a few minor issues, such as firewall and monitoring configuration which were pretty confused with the sudden increase in video traffic!

While all this technical stuff was going on, we were busy working away on the “how-we-launch” part and what should the landing page should look like. In line with our internal philosophy to keep things simple and straight-forward, we used a basic landing page and worked on the premise that many people were already familiar with the technology and/or it was so intuitive that little or no training was required. We decided a company-wide announcement and restatement of the internal internet usage policy would suffice.

Perhaps the hardest part of all was preparing the welcome video for the landing page, as I became stuck in the retake loop and ended up trying to use video editor to tidy it…which then chewed up inordinately large amounts of time. Suddenly, the penny dropped and I realised I had forgotten it was meant to be easy to use and it was not meant to be studio quality.

Day of launch
We went live with 1,300 users and, even as I was trying to upload my second video at 7.30am, I realised that several people had already hit the landing page and watched the video. More impressive is that I’m still getting feedback and comments from people about what I post. I think this whole ‘engagement’ thing must be working …

Day 15 after launch
We’ve had loads of videos and sites popping up around all sorts of topics that I never knew about. Personally, I’m sucked in hook, line and sinker with video updates, which are proving a much simpler and quicker way to spread the word (or am I just really saying it saves me writing it down?!).

We’re now looking forward to the next stage, which we’re aiming to accelerate into Phase 2 (Gmail).