Office 2.0: 10 new things you can do in the (Google) cloud

Business applications in the Internet cloud are improving at a phenomenal pace, says Matthew Glotzbach, a product management director with Google Enterprise. Glotzbach just finished giving a short talk at the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco, where he illustrated his point with a list of 10 things businesses can do in the cloud today that they couldn’t do a year ago.

Yes, at times the talk was little more than an infomercial for Google. But I thought Glotzbach’s list was useful as a summary of what Google Enterprise has been up to, and because it identifies which products the company says are most important.

Here’s the list. All direct quotes are from Glotzbach.

10. “Everything on the go” — “I can do almost anything, I would venture to say everything, from my mobile phone.” Obviously, the big mobile device on everyone’s mind is the recently released iPhone 3G.

9. “Search through all my email” — On the other hand, the brief-but-terrifying failure of Gmail illustrated that storing your email in the cloud alone can be risky.

8. “Chat with customer and partners in any language” — Glotzbach gave a cool demonstration of how Google Talk can translate a chat into the user’s native language.

7. “Collaborate simply and securely on projects with Sites & Docs”
— Glotzbach noted that Google employees themselves use Docs and Sites for their own internal collaboration, such as the Sites page used to plan for the recent launch of Google Video for Business.

6. “Organize all my business travel with email” — Sure, TripIt (which organizes trip details across multiple sites) is a consumer-focused site, but Glotzbach says he uses it for 90 percent of his business travel.

5. “Easily collect data from co-workers and customer in Forms” — Google Forms make it easier to collect data without forcing others to log into Google. They also make it easier to open the wrong thing whenever I try to create a new document in Google Docs. It’s a trade off.

4. “Build any scalable business application on the cloud platform” — Google has its own platform, the Google App Engine, but Glotzbach also pointed to Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.com’s platform Force.com. He says 80,000 business applications have been built on Force.com.

3. “Use online templates for documents, spreadsheets and [presentations]“ — With Google Docs’ templates, Glotzbach doesn’t have to open Microsoft Word to print out a fax cover sheet anymore.

2. “Run fast, secure, and stable web applications” — As anyone following the tech world knows, Google just launched its own web browser Chrome. I’m grumpy because a Mac version is still forthcoming, but Glotzbach said he feels my pain, and so does Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

1. “Securely share video in Apps”
— That’s the YouTube-like service for businesses that I referred to earlier.

Glotzbach closed by offering some impressive stats on Google Apps adoption — it has more than 10 million active users, and 3,000 new businesses sign up every day.