Travis Perkins beats ‘kingdoms of data’ woes with Google cloud services

Travis Perkins has chosen Google Apps and Google Drive services to store and share data more efficiently

UK building material supplier Travis Perkins has selected Google Apps and Google Drive services to store and share data more efficiently and overcome inefficiencies related to data silos.

The supplier works on large critical projects, such as Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, and requires serious coordination in its data tasks to ensure accurate quotes are created and materials are delivered to where they were needed. The IT team has to enable collaboration across Travis Perkins’ 2,000 locations, 24,000 people and 17 different business divisions.

Google Drive for Work is the search giant’s premium service for businesses that includes unlimited cloud-based storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls, such as eDiscovery services.

“We use Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents, which has reduced travel, email traffic and the time taken to get things done,” said Jon Spruce, Google programme leader at Travis Perkins.

Prior to that, the process of creating quotes at Travis Perkins was disjointed and confusing.

“We’ve made a series of acquisitions over the last 30 years, and with each one, also acquired a new technology and system, which left us with a mismatched set of storage and document-creation products,” Spruce said. “People created their own ‘kingdoms’ of data, and expected they'd be able to share information – with very limited success.”

According to the IT team, Google Drive has helped its employees deliver quotes to customers at a steady pace and access the most up-to-date information at any time. 

“Drive has also taken the sluggishness out of the quote pipeline. In one of our businesses, BSS Industrial, we start by creating a document about the project at the customer’s local branch, then create a shared folder, and add in blueprints, estimates, and photos – anything the rest of the team needs to build and fulfill the quote,” Spruce added.

As employees locate and price supplies or visit the building site to take precise measurements, everyone can update the same files and the IT is able to control document versions. Drive’s audit view allows the IT to monitor activities such as moving, deleting or sharing of a business file within or outside the company. It also provides an audit API for developers.

“We no longer worry about which email or spreadsheet is correct, since we all work together on the same project quotes,” Spruce said.

Google Drive for Work was launched by Google in July at its I/O 2014 conference. The service is available for $10/user/month. As of June 2014, it is estimated that Google Drive had 190 million monthly active users with enterprises such as HP, Seagate, Jaguar Land Rover, Travis Perkins and Crate and Barrel using it.

According to Google, all files uploaded to Google Drive are encrypted, not only from users’ device to Google and in transit between Google datacentres, but also at rest on Google servers.

At I/O, Thomas Davies, director of Google Enterprise, explained the main reasoning behind Google Drive for Work was the IT department wanting to regain control it has lost through the BYOD and BYOA trends.

Dale Ville, research director at Freeform Dynamics thinks Google Apps, Google Drive for Work and other similar applications, though not Google’s main strength, are an attempt to present Google products in a more enterprise-driven manner.

Google Drive for Work competes with the likes of Box, Dropbox and OneDrive. Last year, Hybrid cloud and on-premises provider Egnyte has integrated its product with Google Drive, allowing users to access Google Drive directly from a corporate network drive.

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