Increasing engagement with Google Meet features

04 January 2021

Many of us have become accustomed to working remotely and hosting most of our meetings over some form of video conferencing tool (ours obviously being Google Meet). 

BUT, have you ever been to a meeting and been frustrated at the lack of communication or engagement from your participants? 

We have all been there. Ensuring you have engagement from your audience can sometimes seem trickier than we think. In this blog, we have some tips on keeping engagement throughout a Google Meet, and best practices to abide by when on video meetings. 

Keeping up the engagement 

Netpremacy Google MeetBy now, many of us will have experienced the deathly silence you get from Google Meet participants after you have asked for an opinion or for an answer to a question. Some people are still adjusting. There is no doubting that engagement was easier in face to face meetings, and you may have found yourself easily bouncing ideas off of one another. This may have changed as people may be worried about talking over one another when on a Google Meet. We have found a number of ways to keep your participants engaged and involved in the conversation. 

Using the Q & A function

On the right-hand side of the Google Meet screen, there is now a Q&A option. Anyone in a meeting can ask questions. The questions show until they are deleted or hidden. After a meeting, the moderator gets a detailed report of all the questions. Anyone who schedules or starts a meeting will be the moderator, and there can only be one moderator per meeting. 

This function helps participants to ask questions through the tool, if they may not feel confident to speak up on the video call, and will also help when there are more people on the call, as it may get harder to speak up. This feature eliminates that worry. The feature also allows the participants to vote up a question which brings attention to the more popular questions. 

Ask a question

In a meeting, in the top-right corner, click Activities, click QuestionsIn the lower-right corner, click Ask a questionEnter your question click Post.

Raise your hand option 

Ever struggled to be heard over other participants in a Google Meet? 

Do you want to raise an opinion but you are not quite sure when to interject? Google Meet has you covered. By using the raise your hand option, you can easily let the moderator know that you would like to speak. Moderators can then work through the raised hands to ensure that everyone has had an opportunity to voice their opinion. Once a person has had their opportunity to speak, the moderator can “lower people’s hands”, or you can lower yours yourself. 

To raise your hand: Scroll to the bottom of the screen , click Hand raise.

To lower your hand: Scroll to the bottom of the screen, click Lower hand.

How to Lower hands as a moderator

From the top right, click the People tab. Scroll to the “Raised hands” section. To lower a hand, next to the participant’s name, click Lower handTo lower all hands scroll to “Raised hands” and click Lower all.

Polls

Google_Meet_PollsAnother great way to keep engagement on a Google Meet, and to gain valuable opinions and thoughts from your participants, is through the Poll option now available on Google Meet. 

Not only does this help keep your audience engaged, it also allows moderators to display the results. It gets your participants more involved in decision making within a meeting, and helps to avoid people talking over one another, and risking not being heard. Meeting hosts also receive a report with the tally of the results to make it easy to refer back and take action. 

 

Create a poll

In a meeting, in the top-right corner, click Activities, click PollsClick Start a pollEnter a question and add options for the poll. Choose one: To post your poll, click LaunchTo save your poll so you can launch it later, click Save.

As a meeting participant, you can submit a response for a poll. 

You’ll get a notification in the meeting when the moderator starts a poll. Be sure to submit your response before the poll or meeting ends. 

In a meeting: In the top-right corner, click Activities, click Polls. In the poll, select your response, click Vote.

Read Google’s blog for more information on the Q&A and Poll functions. 

Best Practices

Keep your camera on

It appears to vary from business to business on whether employees keep their camera on when partaking in a Google Meet. Some companies enforce employees as standard, whilst others do not feel the need for video. 

At Netpremacy we try to keep our camera on at all times. We feel that it puts a face behind a name, and keeps the engagement up. Many people feel more engaged and motivated when talking to a real image of that person, rather than just a stagnant profile picture. It is thought that video conferencing can provide better communication across teams via body language. Video also creates a sense of empathy & connection with your peers. A simple smile whilst on the Google Meet can go a long way. Something that is lost if you keep your video off at all times. 

Video is what keeps some normality and personality when working remotely which is why we think it’s so important. It enables better communication across teams, regardless of where they’re located. Ultimately this improves on building ideas, problem-solving, and working together, which is why we recommend to keep your video on where possible as standard.  

Here are some interesting statistics on video conferencing to provide a little more context behind what we are talking about :

 82% of those surveyed in 2020, described the video as an effective tool for communicating work-related information.1

Techsmith: Two-thirds (67%) of people understand information better when communicated visually 2  

GigaOM: 87% of remote team members feel more connected to their team when they can use video conferencing 3

Turn yourself on mute when not speaking

Although there is a noise cancellation feature available on Google Meet, we recommend putting yourself on mute when in a large meeting when you are not speaking. This eliminates sound from your keyboard, or awkward breathing down the mic, and means that the meeting you are running will be a smoother experience, and nobody will struggle to hear the speakers. This feature is automatically turned on when a meeting of more than 5 people. How many times in 2020 did we hear the phrase “you’re on mute!”. Avoid the awkwardness of this by checking your mic button before attempting to talk! 

Don’t talk over each other 

Finally, it does go without saying but can be something that causes disruption on a video call and as a result, can make it hard for participants to hear what is being said. Wait your turn, and do not talk over one another. It is good practice and good etiquette that will help your meetings to run smoothly. 

As we delve into 2021 and plan to continue to work in a more mobile and digital way, our top tips and best practices should help to keep engagement in your future virtual meetings. If you would like to keep up to date and receive more tips and best practices, sign up for our newsletter here.

08 October 2020

Using Google Workspace to keep your data secure and business protected.

We use Google Workspace in many ways to keep our organisations thriving, more now than ever before. Netpremacy is here to support your Google Journey, and in doing so, we support the security of your operations. With this in mind, we have put together some guidance and information to help you optimise your security posture.

There is a global shift now in adapting to a new way of working, ensuring our employees are productive, collaborating, and driving business whilst operating in a secure environment all whilst working remotely. Securing cloud environments is what we are dedicated to providing.

By delivering Security Workshops, webinars, regular updates, and articles we are ensuring that our Google Cloud customers are utilising their cloud investment to the highest level. Enterprise-level security, such as DLP, endpoint security, MDM, and log analysis are all available with Google Workspace. However, many security failures have been a result of the person or the process and not the technology. With all this in mind, we are investing our time and resources into ensuring all points of failure are assessed and mitigated against using Google Cloud Technologies and our expertise, whether that is the person, policy, process, or technology.

If you are operating the newly transformed Google Workspace, you will be aware of the vast security features available at your fingertips. With the majority of our workforce now facing remote working as a somewhat permanent measure, we need to look at securing not only the perimeter but the user, the endpoint, the access control, and ensuring data loss is no issue. Previously, working from home policies seemed alien to most security pods, posing unmanageable risks. However, as we are heavily invested in enterprise-level cloud solutions like that of Google Workspace, these security concerns are met with mitigating controls and processes to ensure peace of mind whilst staying compliant to regulating bodies and guidelines.

Google Workspace

As discussed, the user has been given a bad press in former years due to lack of due diligence, mistakes, or failure to provide multiple authentications leading to significant breaches. Ensuring your users have a seamless process to access the services and documents they need to fulfil their employment duties is a must. Overcomplicating authentication and access controls can lead to user dissatisfaction and shadow IT. Authentication is heavily used across all Google Workspace features, having a strong authentication process ensures that the right data is being accessed by the right person on the correct device. 

2 step verification reduces this risk greatly, by using the features available in Cloud Identity you can ensure all your users are providing additional verification processes and lowering your risk of unauthorized access to your company data. Google also provides security key enforcement offering another layer of security. This is a physical security verification process and sends an encrypted signature that only works with the access that it is provided, helping G Suite administrators to manage and monitor security keys at large and without having to install many different types of security software.

Moving on from the user, we look towards securing the device. If organisations have not already, there has been seen to be a huge uptake on device management solutions. Solutions on the market that are available to ensure the safety of company data when employees are remote working or using devices that are not owned by the company themselves, such as a BYOD policy. Being able to control what applications a user can utilise, to be able to lock the device down and wipe sensitive content if the device is lost or stolen has provided another layer of security to those companies who can operate outside of the traditional network structure. Google MDM is available in both Business and Enterprise SKUs, with a significant feature enhancement when looking into Enterprise, this provides what is usually a heavy investment with an alternative MDM provider included in your license commitment. Google was named a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers Choice for Enteprise Mobility Management Suites.

There are many other features that enhance your cloud security posture with Google’s Suite, however, whilst security features are fundamental, regulated organisations need these security features to adhere to strict guidelines so their business can operate and expand. GDPR and ISO27001 are by far the most commonly adhered to guidelines in today’s data society. Google Cloud is compliant to GDPR guidelines as in most commonly known cases the data processor. Customers that utilise either Google Workspace or Google Cloud Platform take the role of the data controller, owning the data and must adhere to the data controller guidelines. GDPR has in essence given data protection and privacy and a dual-action approach, ensuring that cloud providers give assurances that data is protected in their environments and on the other hand the data controller ensures that the security processes around that environment are compliant with these regulations. 

Google has recently announced new security features, one of these features being data protection insights. This is a step forward in being able to classify data, the location of that data, and in turn be able to report on that to make informed decisions surrounding protecting your organisation’s data and can be of assistance when complying with regulations such as ISO27001. ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised data protection standard, which looks at all areas of data protection, from the virtual, physical, software, policy, and process. Many organisations wanting to work with the central government or organisations that hold extremely sensitive information will be asked to adhere to this framework. However, this is usually not light work, with some projects taking longer than 6/12/18 months to complete and become certified. When using any Google Service, you will adhere to these guidelines automatically and your data in that environment will be continually monitored and improved under the ISO 27001 regulations.

In addition, Google has also recently announced that Google Workspace has received ISO 27701 certification alongside their 27001 and alternate data protection and privacy certifications. This being part of the ISO 27001 family, aligns directly with data privacy and provides guidance for implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). This relays back to GDPR considerably when looking into data protection laws and guidance. You can read more about the recent updates and security certifications here.

Although this article merely touches lightly on some of the features available to you with Google Cloud Services, there are many more. We carry out regular Security Workshops with our customers to ensure their environments are optimised to the highest level of security standards available.

We will be discussing this further on our Google Workspace Security Webinar which will take place on the 12th of November, covering a variety of security topics that have been highlighted in this article. We welcome customers and non-customers alike to join us to discuss this further.

Please contact me if you have any further queries around security: amunroe@netpremacy.com 

24 September 2020

Adapting to a more digital world – Top tips to ensure you are set up to take your work home

 

Businesses around the world have been working remotely in a more permanent way for over 6 months now. To put that into perspective…that’s half of 2020. Now, in light of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, it looks like working from home will continue long into 2020.  We are over the initial shock to the system, but we need to keep on top of keeping our employees happy and motivated and start putting into place measures that are more permanent. 

Netpremacy was born in the cloud, and working remotely is what we teach to other businesses across the country. Which is why we wanted to share our experience and best practices with businesses that were not traditionally used to remote working. Office culture has changed dramatically, however, employees’ mental health and wellbeing is important, as is keeping business running as usual. 

Working from home has benefits and struggles you should consider:

Benefits 

  • Increased productivity 
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Reduced office maintenance costs 
  • Good for the environment
  • Increased flexibility 
  • Good for the environment

Struggles

  • Difficult to unplug from work
  • Loneliness
  • Different working environments
  • Distractions at home
  • Affects mental health
  • Hard to stay motivated

 

Do you have the correct setup?

When the UK was sent home to work, it was done overnight in a panic. Businesses didn’t have a choice and had to ensure their employees were sent home to keep them, and the rest of the country safe. 

Now we have started to adapt, more businesses have decided that working from home benefits them in several ways. Businesses are making the decision to keep this a more permanent solution, and we need to ensure that our employees have the correct setup and working environment. This can have a major impact on a person’s physical, and mental health. There are some simple steps that should help you and your employees to work comfortably and effectively. 

Ensure that when working from home you have somewhere comfortable to sit, that supports your back and neck. Yes, it’s a novelty working from your bed, but how much goodwill that do your back in the long run? The answer is not a lot! 

Working from a clean, and clutter-free environment is another way to ensure employee happiness. Make sure the area you are working in is free from distractions such as the TV, and is a clean space, to keep your mind clutter-free, and to create a productive environment in which to work. 

 Having a consistent spot that you “go to” every day to work helps your brain associate that spot with getting work done. Choose the same spot for a few days and your brain will learn that when you’re in that spot, you’re focused.

Customise your working environment, so that you feel comfortable and at home- make it a place you WANT to go to – just like you would at your desk at work! 

Ensure that your MDM is set up correctly

Mobile Device Management is essential when working remotely, which is exactly why employers need to make sure that this is set up correctly so that company devices can be managed no matter where your employees are working. Through Google’s single console, your company is able to manage the entire enterprise mobility. This provides comprehensive protection whilst being easy to manage.

G Suite admins can now define custom rules that trigger on device events and have associated actions. When an event specified in a rule occurs on a device within your organisation with a G Suite Enterprise license, the corresponding action you have set will automatically be executed by Mobile Management.

• Easy for admins to enroll all company owned devices for MDM

• Easily enforce device-owner mode on multiple Android company-owned devices

• Not be dependent on the end-user to enable device-owner mode

• Gather info on each and every Android device/app accessing G Suite

Read more on how to ensure your MDM is set up correctly, or contact a member of our team who will be happy to help you get set up. 

Keep your teams secure 

Security is important, no matter where you are located. Luckily, much of the Google technology we use has many security features already built-in (learn more here). But it’s always a good idea to have multiple security procedures in place to keep your employees, and data, extra secure. 

The challenge of remote working, when it comes to security, is that if something does go wrong, your IT team is not there to fix any issues. However, by utilising the Google Admin Control allows you to manage devices remotely, which is useful in a time where everyone has been sent home to work. Another suggestion would be to allow only company approved apps to be installed in the work profile, so your employees are not using apps on the work profile that your business has not approved. It is also recommended to set up dedicated work profiles that are isolated from personal apps, and you should make sure data sharing is restricted. These simple steps can help to keep your employees and your company data secure. 

Setting up employee devices correctly is a fool-proof way of making sure data cannot be accessed by people outside your company. The data is encrypted, and in case the device is lost or stolen, it can be wiped remotely. The new Advanced Protection Programme is an added level of protection for users who are more likely to undergo security challenges. This uses security keys which prevents unauthorised access to your Google account and protects the user from harmful downloads. New updates and security features are automatically added, so it’s one less thing to think about. 

Employees are generally kept safe from phishing attacks, as Gmail has in-built features that cleverly identifies and flags them; however, it is good practice to train employees, making them aware of what to look for and how to handle these types of cyberattacks. 

Adhering to these suggestions will definitely help to keep your mind at ease, however, if you have any further queries or questions our support and security teams are available to help. 

Regular communication & human interaction 

It’s important to remember that everyone is in their own unique environment, which may make working from home more challenging. Some will have a dedicated office space, whilst others are working in a one-bedroom studio. Whatever your situation is, you need to make sure it works for you, whilst being able to communicate with your teammates. 

Regular communication is important to stay motivated, and to keep up the morale too. Schedule catch-ups with your co-workers, so you are on top of your workload, but also socialising with the people who you usually spend most of your working week with.

Probably the most obvious, but it does get overlooked more often than not – take your lunch break! It can be quite difficult to cut off from work when you are in your own home, so step away from the computer, clear your head, and refresh. If you can spend your lunch break outside, that’s even better.

Keep things fun

Office culture differs with each organisation. Distractions in the office may make things difficult to get things done. Equally, you may find it easier to focus in the workplace more than anywhere else. No matter what you are used to, this is your opportunity to make things fun and make it work around you and your workload. Perhaps suggesting an online office quiz, or meeting up virtually on a Friday afternoon for a virtual drink will help keep things fresh!

Being successful in a digital environment is not just about getting the work done. Balancing health, both physical and mental, whilst having the right technology to communicate, collaborate, and keep your data secure is the key to allowing your business to excel.

Contact us and speak to one of our experts today about the technology we use in order to thrive in a digital world and remember to look after your mental health in times of uncertainty!

14 August 2020

Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir: Half Time Round-Up

 

We are half-way through Google Cloud Next ‘20: OnAir, and have already seen lots of exciting new content and product updates. The first 4 weeks have covered Industry Insights, Productivity & Collaboration, Infrastructure, and Security – and we are excited to see what the next 5 weeks will bring!

In this blog post, we have highlighted some of the stand out sessions that we have found insightful. See below for just some of our highlights and find out how you can access the on-demand content.


Week 1: Industry Insights

In Thomas Kurian’s opening keynote, we were given a first look at updates such as the upcoming new interface in Gmail, the release of BigQuery Omni, and we got an insight into how companies have been able to adapt using Google technologies during the pandemic. Read our blog: Netpremacy Next Insights: Week 1 Industry Insights for our top highlights from the opening week.


Week 2: Productivity & Collaboration

As one of the UK’s leading Google Premier Partners, specialising in business transformation with G Suite, we anticipated this week would be full of exciting and valuable content for us, and our customers. We weren’t wrong!  Here are just some of the sessions we thought really highlighted the value of G Suite and how you can use it to power your organisation.

G Suite’s Vision: Your Future Workplace

Ever since the sudden and global transition to a remote way of working, more than 6 million businesses have chosen G Suite as their partner in digital transformation, and billions of people are using it to stay connected. This could be the catalyst that will accelerate the shift to a more flexible work culture.

*80% of employees want to see a more flexible way of working continue

**74% of CFOs are seeing a permanent shift in the way they are going to run their business

Giving employees more flexibility is helping to prepare us for the future. It has other benefits too, like saving businesses money and reducing their carbon footprint. Google is cloud-native, so G Suite tools were engineered with flexibility in mind. Noise cancellation and low light mode in Google Meet was just one of the many updates Google announced to help with the challenges of remote working, where often your environment isn’t that predictable. 

Google Meet is now free for everyone, so more people can enjoy secure and reliable video meetings. Google also announced earlier in the year that G Suite Essentials, for businesses, will be free until October 2020. The better home for work update was another exciting new feature, which will integrate the main G Suite collaboration tools to work even more seamlessly, helping users better manage the pace of work.

Watch the full session here and learn more about Google’s first step in their long-term vision of what the future workplace could look like.

Power Your Business with Search & AI in G Suite

This session looks at some of G Suite’s incredible capabilities that help with employee efficiency, by improving meeting experiences, simplifying tasks, and turning data into insights: 

  • Google Calendar is able to automatically suggest the time and place of a meeting, based on the number and location of participants. 
  • Gmail and Google Drive use powerful search and assistant features to enable you to find the files you want, quickly. 
  • Machine Learning (ML) is used in Gmail (and now Docs) with smart compose, allowing you to write more quickly and accurately – powered by world-class Google search technology and ML models. 
  • Deep learning signals are used to learn and utilise these behaviours, delivering relevant and highly intelligent results.

Watch the full session here to learn more about the intelligent features in G Suite you should be using in your business.

Communication in G Suite: The Future of Gmail, Chat, Meet, and More

In this session, Google announced the key features, tools, and updates they have made to make it easier for people to work remotely. 

  • Extended tile view layouts in meetings
  • “Guest Access” – collaborate with external partners on Google Chat
  • Forward to inbox – makes it easier to follow up on specific chat messages
  • Ability to edit messages in Chat
  • Voice and Chat now available in Gmail 
  • New home for work – access everything you need straight from Gmail

Personalisation in Retail

Consumer behaviour in retail has been changing for years, but the sudden closure of brick and mortar stores highlighted and accelerated the importance of digital strategies. Now, the customer journey is much more complex, but behaviours online can be tracked and used to personalise experiences. Data science, AI, and ML models are at the forefront of implementing these strategies in an intelligent, scalable, and automated way. AI is fuelled by consumer demand, so it’s more important than ever to collect and analyse data properly. You can then make better decisions, such as delivering personalised product recommendations based on products they have previously viewed, and with Google’s powerful ML models, you can suggest products based on what other consumers have bought.

Watch the session here to learn how you can use this technology to deeply understand your customers.


Week 3: Infrastructure

Infrastructure is a vital part of any business which is why we need to ensure that it is protected and working to the best of its ability to keep businesses running efficiently. There was a range of interesting updates, and below are just a few that we felt stood out, and that will make a big impact on the way that businesses work going forward. 

New Transatlantic cables – Grace Hopper cable system

Google already has a deeply impressive private network, including many different sub-sea cable investments. However this week, Google announced the new transatlantic cable that they will be building, named after the famous Grace Hopper. This cable will be linking the US, UK, and Spain and will provide extra bandwidth to this key connectivity route. People will be able to share, search, send, and receive information more than ever. After all, in today’s day and age reliable connectivity is more important than ever before to ensure business continuity. The new transatlantic cable will provide even better resilience for the network that underpins Google’s consumer and enterprise products. Read more about the new cable and all the others here.

New private service connect

Private Service Connect in alpha, which allows you to connect and consume first and third-party as well as customer-owned services easily and privately. It creates service endpoints in consumer VPCs that provide private connectivity and policy enforcement, allowing you to easily connect services across different networks and organisations. Private Service Connect abstracts the underlying infrastructure for both the teams consuming and delivering services, making it easier for you to use value-added services. With Private Service Connect, traffic stays private and secure over Google’s global network. See the overview video, or Read more here.

Google Cloud Armor

There has been 3 stand out Google Cloud Armor updates over the infrastructure week that will have a large impact on many businesses across the globe. Google has simplified the way you can use Cloud Armor to help protect your websites and applications from exploit attempts as well as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Here’s a quick overview:

Cloud Armor Managed Protection Plus 

This is a subscription service with a predictable, enterprise-friendly monthly pricing model that mitigates cost risk from defending against a large L7 DDoS attack. Leveraging the edge of Google’s network, as well as a set of products and services from across Google Cloud, Cloud Armor Managed Protection Plus can help protect applications from DDoS attacks and targeted exploit attempts. Businesses can now benefit from the same scale and expertise Google employs to protect applications and critical services from malicious activity.

Named IP Lists 

Named IP Lists are now in beta. These are Google-curated rule sets containing a pre-configured list of IP addresses that can be referenced and reused across policies and projects. Google is starting with providing Named IP Lists that have source IP ranges for common upstream service providers that many users would want to allow through their Cloud Armor security policies.

New WAF rules: RFI, LFI, RCE

Google is also making RFI (Remote File Inclusion), LFI (Local File Inclusion), and RCE (Remote Code Execution) rules available as a beta. Collectively, these rules contain industry-standard signatures from the OWASP ModSecurity Core Rule Set to help mitigate the Command Injection class vulnerabilities while enhancing the out-of-the-box coverage for OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities as well.


Week 4: Security

Security is something that is on everyone’s mind. At Netpremacy, we want to ensure that our employees and customers are safe, especially with so much of the world working remotely since early 2020. Google has introduced a range of new security measures to ensure that everyone’s new normal is safe. This week Google made sure to speak about security to people on every level, from introductory sessions all the way to advanced sessions.

Google also shared with us some of the recent resources, features, and products they’ve been working on in the Security space:

Cloud Security Best Practices Center

With Security being at the forefront of organisations minds, Google has collated lots of information, whitepapers, and blog posts relating to the best practices and key considerations across a number of workloads. It’s a central place to go to ensure you’re meeting your compliance and security needs in Google Cloud.

BeyondCorp Remote Access

Google’s BeyondCorp methodology is one of the most innovative parts of Google’s overall security posture. By using the principle of Zero-Trust, Google enables its own employees to work and access internal systems from anywhere in the world. BeyondCorp Remote Access is a solution built on top of Google products (Cloud IAP and Cloud Identity) that enables organisations to adopt the BeyondCorp methodology for their own applications and employees.

Certificate Authority Service

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and certificate-based authentication are one of the most popular methods of securing networked devices and services. But Google recognises that there is a significant problem – it’s hard to set up Certificate Authorities (CA), and even harder to do it reliably at scale. Google has announced that they are releasing the Certificate Authority Service: a highly scalable and available service that simplifies and automates the management and deployment of private CAs.

Confidential Computing + Confidential VMs

Google has widely documented its security controls, governance, and policies and is completely transparent when it comes to their usage of data. However, Google still recognises that there are organisations that need extra assurances that their data is secure while on Google Cloud. At the present, Google encrypts data at rest and in transit but must decrypt it for processing inside of its servers. Now Google is announcing a new product category called Confidential Computing, with its first product – Confidential VMs.

Like many Google products, Confidential VMs are based on the open-sourced framework Asylo and ensure that data is encrypted at all times, including during processing. And the best part is that enabling this technology is as simple as creating a regular virtual machine – just check the box during creation and let Google take care of the rest. Confidential Computing could truly be the next frontier in data protection in the cloud.

Confidential VMs are in beta, and you can read more about the service here.



These are just some of the announcements and links to the new content that Google Cloud Next has pushed out over the first 4 weeks. To see the full announcements and updates, head over to
Google’s blog. Week 5: Data Analytics is available now. To book on, head over to the Google Cloud Next website.


*Source: Global Workplace Analytics: Work at home after COVID-19 
**Source: Gartner: 74% of organisations to shift some employees to remote work permanently

 

21 July 2020

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This method requires little maintenance and minimal admin, making it an easy solution to adopt and manage.

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20 July 2020

Netpremacy Next Highlights: Week 1

 

It’s fair to say that the opening week of Google Cloud Next online did not disappoint. With a range of product updates, industry insights and sessions on diversity and equality, Google hit the nail on the head with a strong and exciting start. We can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next 9 weeks. 

We have compiled just some of the updates and sessions that stood out to Netpremacy in particular and have rounded up what each session covered, and how you can access the on-demand content. 


Opening keynote

The week began with the opening Keynotes from Thomas Kurian. 

This session covered how Google, and companies across the globe have adapted to a changing world amidst a global pandemic, and how Google technologies have made that possible. Thomas spoke around how the future of work is going to be more digital and collaborative. He touched on how businesses have had to accelerate their digital transformation projects and bring them forward by 2-3 years to adapt to the changes that have happened since the pandemic. In addition to this, he spoke around how businesses are reimagining the way they work and that data powered innovation will make this possible. Watch the full on demand keynote here


Product Updates 

Google Meet in Gmail

Some exciting changes were announced around how Gmail is going to be made into a more collaborative space, with tools from Hangouts and more all being accessible in one interface. This change will be rolled out to G Suite users by introducing a dedicated Meet tab in the Gmail iOS and Android mobile apps. This means users will soon be able to join secure video meetings directly in Gmail without needing to open another app on their phone. The full update can be found here.

BigQuery omni release 

Another exciting announcement was on BigQuery Omni. This is a flexible, multi-cloud analytics solution that lets you cost-effectively access and securely analyse data across Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Azure. All of this is now possible without leaving the familiar BigQuery user interface. Using standard SQL and the same BigQuery APIs you will be able to gain critical business insights from a single pane of glass. Due to BigQuery Omni being powered by Anthos, businesses will now be able to analyse data without having to manage the underlying infrastructure.

Google Meet Updates 

Next up was the announcement of many new changes coming to Google Meet in Q3, and how this can help businesses to become more seamless when communicating through Google Meet. There are many new features that will be rolled out soon that will make for a more streamlined and enhanced experience. We recently wrote a blog on the new features coming soon, read more here. 


Industry Insights

As well as product updates and announcements, Google released a series of online content that put into perspective how different industries have adapted along with the pandemic. These industry insights have helped businesses gain confidence on how they can successfully adapt and thrive due to Google technologies. 

Retail 

In this briefing, Google discusses the recent challenges in retail and what they are working on to help their customers. Digital transformation in retail has been happening long before COVID-19, but now businesses are seeing a sense of urgency to innovate faster. To help tackle these challenges, Google has been working on industry specific solutions, through driving operational improvements, capturing digital and omnichannel revenue growth, and helping make data driven decisions. Watch the full session here.

Manufacturing 

Here Google addresses what the “new normal” is for businesses in the manufacturing industry, and how they have moved and adapted throughout the years when faced with serious disruption. We have witnessed unprecedented disruption to a strong economy and our daily lives. This has included dropping oil prices, record unemployment, demand uncertainty, supply chain disruption, major austerity measures, unprecedented government intervention and unstable credit markets. Watch the full session here to learn how manufacturing businesses have moved to a more digital environment to adapt and continue to thrive.

Healthcare 

This session covers how healthcare has had to adapt their technologies and make changes that would have taken 10 years, in just 10 weeks. It explains how Google technology has been helping with the fight against COVID-19. Whether it’s been helping people access information, supporting hospitals and research, or working alongside customers to build a strong foundation for the future. In particular how Google meet has been used to replace in-person appointments when social distancing measures have not allowed face-to-face appointments. Technology has been shaping the world’s response to coronavirus and that doesn’t stop in just the healthcare sector. Watch the full session here. 

Earthquake detection 

A recent experiment using one of our subsea fiber optic cables showed that it could be useful for earthquake and tsunami warning systems around the globe. This is exciting news for the advancement in technology, and how it could potentially help us to avoid or cope with natural disasters in a much more controlled and successful way. Read the full blog post here

These are just some of the announcements and links to the new content that Google Cloud Next has pushed out in week 1, and we can’t wait to see what week 2 brings. To see the full announcements and updates, head over to Google’s blog. To book onto week 2, productivity and collaboration head over to the Google Cloud Next website. 


 

17 July 2020

Google announces more features for the ultimate video conferencing experience

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Since lockdown began, Google Meet has grown in popularity and demand. Thanks to Google Meet, colleagues have been able to stay connected, companies have been able to live stream to a remote workforce, virtual healthcare visits have allowed care to continue, and schools have maintained collaborative contact with students. This is all down to the amazing technology we have available at our fingertips. 

With plenty of video conferencing tools available, it can be quite difficult to distinguish which is the best on the market. Google Meet, which is now free for everyone, is launching several updates that will allow for the ultimate video conferencing experience. 

A New, Customisable Background
The long-awaited customisable background will soon be available to use in Google Meet. In addition, it will be possible to blur out your background, which is especially useful if you are sharing your workspace with family or pets and want to make sure calls are uninterrupted and free from distraction. Netpremacy will find this update really helpful during our webinars, as we will be able to make the experience for our viewers even more smooth and streamlined.

Nest Hub Max Integration
A high-tech, smart solution to help virtual meetings run seamlessly is the integration of Nest Hub Max with Google Meet. It will soon be possible to join meetings with just one click or a voice command through your smart home display. This is great for those who may not have room at home for dedicated office space, so you can free up your laptop and work from anywhere in the house.

Extended Tile View
The last update saw the tile view layout reach a maximum of 16 people, making for more fun and collaborative experience. With more people working remotely and relying on Google Meet to stay connected, Google will increase it to 49 participants. This means whole organisations, or larger teams, can all be visible on a call, making it the most connected, collaborative, and streamlined experience yet. 

Hand Raising
Google has not only announced long-awaited updates, but they have thought about the finer details to make the enhancements seamless in so many ways. The new extended tile view layout is great, but the accompanying “hand-raising” tool makes it even better. This allows participants in a larger call to “raise their hand” if they have a question or want to contribute to the meeting. Making a more organised, and smooth experience. 

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Netpremacy’s Top 5 Updates

Netpremacy was born in the cloud, our teams are incredibly familiar with Google Meet. The new updates add more inclusiveness and make the sessions more seamless in a remote environment. The most exciting benefit of the updates is how they will affect our webinars. The introduction of the below features will allow us to have complete control and increase engagement, which makes an even greater experience for our audience. 

1. Meeting attendance: This will make it easier to track who attended, so we can follow up efficiently and make sure attendees receive collateral and the slides/recording of the webinar.
2. Breakout rooms: We try and personalise the experience for our attendees, as we want to make sure everyone leaves with valuable information. These breakout rooms will give the opportunity to ask the experts directly.
3. Q&A: Our team of experts that deliver these webinars tries to answer as many questions as possible, if not all, so this Q&A channel will make it easier to monitor and direct the questions without disrupting the flow of the webinar.
4. Additional moderator controls: The introduction of more controls, makes the experience smoother. So muting, presenting, even joining the webinar is an afterthought for the speaker, as the hosts can organise and monitor, making it a polished experience for all.
5. Polling: Real-time polling is also a new feature that will be added to Google Meet. We can ask for instant feedback and can get an idea for what content our audience wants to hear in future sessions there and then.

If you want to learn more about our webinars and the topics we talk about, visit our events page.

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To help businesses stay connected and to continue working, we have been offering G Suite Essentials to new customers, which includes Meet, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and it’s free of charge until 30th September 2020.

For more information download our one-pager or to book in your free installation, contact us here: netpremacy.com/contact-us/get-g-suite-essentials-free/

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22 June 2020

In a new age where most of the population is working remotely, could now be the time to look at transforming the way your business works, for good?

 

Hear from our account director, Alastair Lumley on his personal experiences of working remotely, and how he sees the workplace changing.

The world has changed as we know it and there are no signs that we will go back to “normal” any time soon. It, therefore, poses the question, do we ever want to return to normal? 

lady remote workingWe have all suddenly had to adopt a new way of working. Personally I’ve fallen victim to poor WiFi, seeing nothing but a freeze-frame of a colleague only knowing they are there by the sudden boom of their voice. My colleagues have had to deal with my face being too close to the camera, or my persistent shouting as I refuse to use headphones, maintaining that my set up is the best! We’ve all probably had our own experiences of suddenly working from home and things we’d want to change, but these are all teething problems right, this is now the new normal?  

This is why now is the perfect time to look at the tools we use, understand how the wider workforce has adopted a digital-first approach, and really evaluate the business. To put it bluntly, the shock is over, now how do we make it work for us? 

Netpremacy has recently been announced as Google’s Global Partner of the year for Work Transformation – Enterprise. This is a result of over a decades worth of work & experience, implementing some of the largest transformation projects with the likes of, Just Eat, Monzo, Morrisons, Ovo, DFS… the list goes on.

With this in mind, we wanted to share a few things to remember/consider when looking at a digital transformation, they may be obvious but, here they are written down. 

Netpremacy’s 5 top tips

  • Staff are the most important asset. Provide them with the right tools and you’ve won half the battle, we employed them for a reason so let’s ensure they can do their job to the best of their ability
  • Change for the right reasons. Yes a cashable ROI is important, but it’s also imperative we do this for the right reasons, do we want a more flexible working environment, are we looking to reduce operational costs at the same time?
  • Are we looking for a younger workforce, do we need to become more collaborative & innovative to react to market demands? Therefore do the tools we use need to attract that demographic and drive the adoption across the wider organisation 
  • What are our competitors doing? Have they changed how they operate? Are they making changes we arent and benefiting from them? Are we beginning to fall behind? Or, are we the first to change, can we get ahead of the curve? 
  • What’s happening on a global scale? (particularly important right now) Can we learn from other countries and their success or even mistakes? 

 

These are just a few things to take into account when we start a transformation project and very high level questions. Once we start to answer these questions, we can begin to focus on choosing the right tool for the job, and that is where Netpremacy can help. 

At Netpremacy, Google & in particular G Suite has kept us running like clockwork over the last few months. We simply picked up our Chromebooks, in some cases monitors (large scale project planning to do), opened them up at home, and away we went. 

We have teams creating training plans using docs, teams supporting customers via GoogleMeet ensuring they can still operate. Senior management has been able to constantly update the company via weekly meetings ensuring we know what’s going on. Our delivery teams are creating project plans, our Account Directors are creating proposals to roll out GoogleMeet for free to give those who need it most access to vital tools. Our developers are still…..developing. It’s business as usual here at Netpremacy.

The best bit is, that as we do this it’s all super-fast, reliable, and secure as it’s all floating above our heads in the cloud (i am aware that is not strictly true). None of the struggles or delays in wondering how the hell we were going to operate, we just did and it worked. 

What I’m trying to say is, if ever there was a time to take a step back, pause for a second and look at the last 10 weeks now’s the time, but use that reflection and think forward as this is likely to become our new normal. As we all begin to return to the office let’s make sure we have the right tools, our teams have access to everything they need and try to use the positives to build the next generations’ way of working. 

In order to help share some lessons and experience, we’re running a series of webinars that are focusing on how tools such as G Suite, Chrome & Googles wider cloud platform are helping us prepare for a  return to the office, as well as specific industries and how they are coping. 

To find out more about how digital transformation can dramatically improve your company’s way of working, take a look at our digital transformation whitepaper. Or, if you would like a more informal chat, please contact me at alumley@netpremacy.com

12 June 2020

How Netpremacy & Google can help you utilise G Suite & GCP to become more digital and mobile

 

Register now for our 3-part webinar series, featuring guest speakers from our partners FinTech North, and Google Cloud, as we discuss:

• How to create a return to work strategy with Google technology

• Increasing collaboration and productivity in the manufacturing industry

• How to use smart analytics to stay ahead of competitors

Follow the links below to find out more and how to register for each webinar.

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How ML & Smart Analytics are helping FinTechs understand their data

Date: 09/07/20 Time: 11:00-12:00

Join us, FinTech North, and Google to learn about the power of Machine Learning, and Big Query. Hear more on how FinTechs are driving their business forward thanks to Google Cloud. Understand how businesses are using data to gain a competitive advantage, and how Big Query is the tool that makes this possible.

Guest speakers:

  • Alastair Lumley, Netpremay
  • Tom Anderson, Netpremacy 
  • Julian Wells, Director, FinTech North
  • Richard Ashby, Google Cloud 

REGISTER HERE 

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How businesses can use the G Suite tool-stack to return to work

Date: 22/07/20 Time: 11:00-12:00

Sign up to our webinar to understand how businesses can use tools from G Suite to create a complex and intelligent booking system, to get your teams safely back up and running in an office environment.

Hear from Google and Netpremacy on what our plans are for getting back to the office, and how we are using tools from G Suite, App Script, and Data Studio to do so.

REGISTER HERE 

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Manufacturing with G Suite during and post-pandemic

Date: 23/07/20 Time: 11:00-12:00

Sign up for our webinar to hear how manufacturers in the industry are increasing their agility and digitizing their way of working thanks to Google Cloud.

To sustain a business we must transform digitally and culturally. G Suite has been a go-to solution for many organisations within the manufacturing and distribution market, providing that competitive edge during times of uncertainty.

Guest speakers:

  • John Boyle, Google Cloud

REGISTER HERE 

If you are unable to attend these webinars, but would like to find out more, please contact us.

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18 May 2020

At Netpremacy, security is number 1 on our list, especially with so many companies now working remotely. We wanted to share a high-level summary of some of the security features Google Chrome offers to ensure your employees and data are kept safe. 

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A Chromebook is an ultra-secure computer, with little setup required, making it a great choice for remote workforces. It runs on Chrome OS with embedded security, which uses Google-powered security features to make it well-protected against malware and external threats. There is no need for antivirus software or scans as it comes with built-in malware and virus protection. This multiple protection approach means that if one layer is bypassed, others are still in effect. 

Secure Design

 

Automatic updates

Chromebooks automatically manage updates so they are always running the latest and most secure version of the OS. Feature updates are available every 6 weeks, while security patches every 2-3 weeks. This eliminates the need for direct action from administrators and they take place in the background, without downtime or interruption, so the end-user can continue to work. There are also two versions of Chrome OS on every device, so one can be used while the other gets updated. 

Verified Boot

Chromebooks are protected every time it starts up. It does a self-check called “Verified Boot”. This confirms if the operating system is authentic and unmodified. In other words, it can detect if the system has been compromised or tampered with dangerous malware. It will repair itself without any effort, and with two versions of OS, it can proceed with boot-up even if one OS has been corrupted. The Chromebook will be restored back to an operating system that’s as good as new.

Data Encryption

The primary use case of a Chromebook is for browser-based applications and for important data to be stored in the cloud. However, there will be files and data that need to be present on the machine, like downloads, cookies, and browser cache. These data are protected because they are encrypted using tamper-resistant hardware, called the Google Security Module. This user data encryption is enabled on every Chrome device by default, which cannot be switched off, making it very difficult for anyone to access these files.

Trusted applications

 

Sandboxing

Chrome Browser uses sandboxes to contain possible threats and uses site isolation to keep all Android, Linux, and OS processes separate from each other. If a user is directed to an infected web page or application, the sandbox security feature contains the possible threat, so it can’t affect any other tabs or apps on the computer. 

Protection against threats

 

Safe Browsing Protection

The Safe Browsing service protects users from phishing attacks, dangerous malware, and unwanted software, which can be buried in and amongst websites. Google’s servers will scan billions of URLs and the content on each web page. If it detects harmful material it will add that URL to a list of unsafe websites, and that list will be stored locally on the users’ device. This means if the user goes on an unsafe website, Google will alert them with a warning. 

Ransomware

Every 40 seconds, a company is hit with a ransomware attack*

With limited data held on a Chromebook, there is often little which can be held at ransom. Nevertheless, there are a number of Chrome security features which minimises the risk of a ransomware attack. Similar to phishing attacks, Machine Learning works on Gmail to identify emails that contain malware, and Chrome Browser warns the user before accessing hostile sites. The built-in protection on Chrome OS also helps to stop malware from spreading across your network. If an attack should get through, Verified Boot would restore the operating system.

*Source: Kaspersky Lab “Kaspersky Security Bulletin 2016”

 

Recovery Mode

The above security features are designed to work together, safeguarding end-users against harmful attacks and mitigating the impact if one does slip through. The recovery mode is the final step to quickly restore the operating system if something does go wrong. You can use this option to restore the Chromebook back to its original factory state. This will wipe everything from the machine, including downloads, local files and it will remove all user accounts.   

Sign up for our webinar on 27/05 as we delve into how Google Chrome is keeping businesses running securely, and to learn more about Chrome security features.

REGISTER HERE

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