Google Add-ons: Where To Start For Small Business

Michaes Subramanian helms Jivrus Technologies, an up and coming Google Partner development company and publisher of several popular Google Add-ons. He took a minute to discuss how Small Business on G Suite can productively explore the benefits of using Google Add-ons.

For a small business first approaching Google Add-ons, what types of Add-ons should they look at first?

Invoicing is one example of how Google Add-ons can help save time and labor for a small business. Creating forms and managing the day to day business communications is also an area where Add-ons are worth investigating. Add-ons work well with task management, building quotations, proposals, and estimates, as well as 3rd party integrations like analytics data, email marketing, and productivity apps like

How do Add-ons work within the Gsuite domain backend? Can Add-ons from 3rd party providers be automatically updated? Can Add-ons be turned on/off for some users or organizations within the domain?

G Suite add-ons are written in Google Apps Script, Javascript, HTML, CSS and runs on G Suite platform. There are auto updates as new releases are made. No need to re-install. Yes, the domain admin has full control over the Add-ons.

How to make sure your Add-ons are secure when working with sensitive files, or files that are bound by compliance regulations?

Google makes it very transparent what permissions are required for each Add-on. So it’s pretty straightforward to review the permissions required to see if it fits within your industry’s compliance regulations. Also, make sure to accept only the trusted developers. As with any developer make sure the Add-on is still being updated, and that support services are available from the developer if needed.

Last Thoughts on Add-ons for small business owners?

Small and medium sized business can implement Google-Addons to improve efficiencies at a very low price. Add-ons function securely within your company’s G Suite domain. Additionally, your G Suite administrator has full access to configuration and permissions.  I am very bullish on the Google Add-ons market and believe it will flourish in the next 1 to 2 years.

When Security Compliance Creates More Problems

None of us has been spared the incessant nagging website popups, which force you to accept that the site is using cookies. You can thank the GDRP rules for this addition to life’s little annoyances. Whether the merit of the privacy transparency attempted with these notices is valid or not, the real problem is that they create an additional security hole that renders these cookie monster popups a net step backwards for web privacy and security.

Because surprise, surprise – web publishers who aren’t careful are allowing their users to get hit with malware:

After GDPR was enacted, many website owners were looking for an easy way to implement the changes to be GDPR compliant. Some webmasters turned to services that offered to display a cookie consent notice on their website through a simple JavaScript add-on.

Unfortunately, many website owners do not check the code they are adding to the website. This is a prime opportunity for hackers to trick website owners to add the malicious code onto their own website. It’s possible that initially, the code was benign and that the hackers were just waiting for a large number of websites to add it so they could modify the code and infect all of the websites at once.

So, in the attempt to give users control over their privacy, this compliance process is actually opening up users to all sorts of privacy compromises through any sort of malware injection you can come up with off the top of your head.

Add Some HIPAA to This Mess

Or take the recent example from a very large insurance company’s new app, which allows user to scan documents and upload them into an online beneficiary portal. Problem is, the images must be saved locally, then uploaded back to the app. Which means that very sensitive PHI, ie social security numbers, signatures, etc – are now locally on the customers device leaving them very vulnerable to not only device theft, but any sort of malware that can scan local image directories and (using a touch of AI why not?) surreptitiously upload infected device sensitive PHI scans to 3rd party servers.

Protect Your Business Against Its Protectors

Whatever side of the GDRP fence you sit, making sure that only clean code goes on your site is important. Whether you love or loathe the idea of HIPAA, making sure your health practice’s HIPAA compliance efforts themselves aren’t creating PHI vulnerabilities is critical.

Small business owners obviously must navigate the currents in this everchanging regulatory compliance environment. It would be wise to handle these compliance processes carefully. GDRP cookie popups can be managed properly if you take the time to see how it works on your site. Your practice can make sensitive PHI scanning work in a ‘best practice’ HIPAA compliant manner with a little foresite and planning.

SMB should expect more regulatory compliance management issues upcoming, certainly in the next 12-24 months as large government regulations are rolling out aspects certainly will be amended. Additionally, a fast changing cloud infrastructure means SMB will have better authorization tools that, while requiring some initial investment, should allow SMB to steer productively in the currently churning seas of privacy and security business compliance.


Enrich Your Google Docs With Fillable Document

It’s easy to transform unique Google docs into repeatable templates that can be used again and again for different customers. Fillable Document from Jivrus Technologies is a Google Add-on that allows you to simply create form fields and add them to your Google Doc. Using standard Word or Doc templates with Fillable Document and you can create a wide variety of quotes, forms, invoices, and contracts within minutes. It’s a good way to track the sales process and still allow for personalized customer service.

Why not just use Google Sheets or Google Forms? Yes Google Sheets and Forms are the typical ways to produce document templates which require variable inputs. But Sheets don’t have as much flexibility as Docs do for integrating text, form fields, images, and customer specific content needed on an ad hoc basis. And forms require a separate program on top of content. Fillable Document for example would be a great choice for a sales staff driven company which has a lot of personalized messaging with customers.

Fillable Document comes in a Free and paid version ($60/user which allows unlimited doc and email generation.) The Add-on’s maker, Jivrus Technologies, is a Google Cloud Partner which means you can install with confidence. Install and authorization takes just a minute. Then when you open a new Google Doc, click the top Add-ons menu and drop down to Fillable Document > Start.

A new menu appears on the right side of your Doc and allows you to create and insert new form fields. Field options are the standard – text, number, date, etc. Once you create a new field simply click into the Doc where you want to insert the field then click the icon to the right of your field and your field has been added to the document:

Your document fields will look something like this:

Then when you want to see a live version of your document click the page icon in the Open Form dialog in the Add-on menu. You can also see a web app version as well as publish the form here.

Your live document will look like this:

But where do you want to store or send this data? In the Fillable Document menu click Settings to find the configuration settings for your form:

You can configure the form to push data to an existing Google Sheet or create one for the purpose. You can choose to store all completed form documents in a folder in a Google Drive folder. Additionally, you can send completed forms to an email address for project tracking purposes. And finally, you can set collaborators within the Filliable Document settings to add additional users to the form. (Only the document’s owner can add or edit collaborator status.)

Fillable Document can be used for a variety of sales functions, especially in businesses where personalized customer contact is needed while improving sales and transaction tracking. For example, a sales member can keep a variety of quote templates in Google Drive and personalize them as needed, which allows for personalized customer services on top of an easy method to track and manage the sales process.

Fillable Document is available from Jivrus Technologies.



The Gmail API and What Your Small Business Can Do

Is your business heavily dependent on G Suite Gmail? Then It’s worth looking at the Gmail API for better business communications.

Simply defined, the Gmail API allows you to sync data and/or push data from your Gmail accounts with other applications. For example you can push all your Gmail users into a simple app that updates activity or unusual behavior. Or you can pull all email inboxes sender information into a central database or CRM applications.

Project Management software is obviously a common step email inundated business take to tame the tangled mess of their inboxes. But the Gmail API and a simple database, or even ported out to Google Sheets, offer an attractive alternative these days. First, cost is essentially negligible post set up within a G Suite environment. Second, there is less friction with 3rd party software integration. And last, employees work within familiar GSuite apps so another program isn’t required with contaminant maintenance and training costs.

Good first steps to researching the Gmail API for small business:

  1. Pulling and syncing inbound email sales leads
  2. Employee account monitoring (usage, volume)
  3. Integrating with CRM, accounting, and other 3rd party cloud services.

The Gmail API does require some upfront planning and development. But once running it can provide an effective tool to better manage and maintain Gmail for the long run.


AI Based Marketing: The Small Business Primer

AI software systems portend major changes to how businesses reach, connect, and convert customers. From simple sentiment analysis to powerful support ticket predictors AI has true potential to create significant efficiencies in the sales cycle.

But a not insignificant  investment is required, and the fast moving pace of this new technology means small business needs to be cautious when taking on the AI world for its own uses. The major points to consider when research AI for small business.

  1. AI only works well when it has a significant amount of historical data. So even if your small business isn’t ready for AI today, it’s worth organizing primary business data that can be the basis for a quality AI program down the road.
  2. AI technology and cloud based offerings for business are expanding and changing at a fast rate. Small business needs to hedge on committing to any one  AI software platform to be sure it doesn’t find itself on the wrong end of the tech trends that are pushing AI forward. AI cloud based offerings from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offer a relatively low risk way to test AI solutions without committing significant resources.
  3. AI solutions won’t replace your CRM or support desk software, they can only enrich them. Your AI marketing and sales options are largely dependent on the configuration options of these existing business systems. Certainly within the next 2 years almost all CRM and support desk software will come embedded with AI options, so small business will want to investigate the options and the roadmap of their existing software.


Perhaps the biggest danger for using AI for small business is losing the human touch that is the landmark of so much that makes small businesses successful. Automation, prediction tools, and sentiment analysis can all enrich the customer/sales loop, but at the same time they take away human eyeballs who can spot idiosyncrasies and unique scenarios that require anomalous customer actions. Small business, certainly vis a vis their larger business counterpoints, must ensure customer satisfaction at the most granular level, and indeed this human relationship with customers is the foundation for many small business success. So AI must be inspected that it is not creating too much ‘artificial’ contact at the risk of losing actual human customers.

How Much Efficiency Is Too Much?

This question is a very germane one for small business who want to investigate using AI. Especially in high traffic, highly competitive sectors, small business owners would be well served to remember that multiple studies show people overwhelmingly still prefer human customer support to AI based support. A percentage that is in excess of 80% in some studies.

AI is already impacting live chat, email, and phone support for business. Small business would be well advised to see where cloud based AI services can assist and enrich the customer/sales loop while being aware of the downfall of too much ‘artificial’ in their customer services processes.

The 6 Second YouTube Ad Solution

Local small and medium size business can profitably test YouTube video advertising with Trueview In-Stream options. Trueview In-Stream ads are not skipable, and if deployed effectively can provide solid lead generation with a highly configurable cost structure.

With local media fragmenting, and cable/satellite local advertising bandwidth as narrow as ever, TrueView In-Stream can be a profitable test to build on and extend current online marketing efforts.

YouTube’s bumper ads are quick in-between video ads (no more than 6 seconds) that cannot be skipped. A great Trueview In-Stream option for small to medium sized business looking to extend branding to locally targeted audiences. New office in the north suburbs, or on the far south side? YouTube’s bumper ads can finely target and more importantly find enough repeat eyeballs to make an impact on brand recognition.

Bumper ads, which are not skippable, must entertain, enlighten, or enliven. They work through repeat contact and are best for branding. In other words, don’t cram an offer, a logo, a tagline, and a smile in 6 seconds. Think music, consistency, and the Big Idea.

Demographically too, bumpers can work to push into new demographic groups. Trying to reach females 35-54 years old within the city of Chicago? Trueview’s bumper ads make this not only easily accomplished, but effectively so through consistent, repeated, and most importantly positive engagement.

Finally, bumpers make for robust and frequent feedback loops, from which advertisers can get enough parsed data back to make good ‘next step’ decisions.

Bumper Baby Steps

YouTube’s Trueview ads can be bought in multiple formats with multiple configuration options. Where traditional video advertising media outlets have become more and more scarce for local advertisers, YouTube provides a way for local to make an impact with commercials in an environment where costs and testing can be closely monitored.

YouTube’s Bumper ads offer a good way for local business to dip a toe into the YouTube ad space. If advertisers take a brand first approach, they can get low cost good brand advertising. Think bumpers as a good test for turbo charging a new product or location campaign.

In the beginning commercials were 60 seconds. Then 30 seconds; then 15 seconds, and now yes it is time to halve it one more. Local dvertisers can do a lot in 6 seconds over time. In fact, short format bumpers provide both media outlets and advertisers with positive engagement to highly configurable targets.

Chatbots: What’s All The Hype About Hal?

Bot Fact from Fiction

It’s amusing to read the latest Google News ‘chatbot’ search – the hype, the predictions, the visions of ever-loving glory in a world free of humans interfering with customer service – totally clean, very cheap, and constantly evolving with AI tools.

Isn’t it time that businesses took a step back of all the anticipation surrounding chatbots and realize that most appalling of truths: sometimes your customers need to be able to talk to an actual human being.

Not that chatbots can’t assist a growing business trying to field an ever-growing amount of customer requests daily. But at the end of the day, how ‘revolutionary’ really can chatbots be when (unfortunately?) this world is still mostly human beings buying things from other human beings. Sure when the bots take us over and it’s bots selling to bots, then chatbots will be able to move front and center of the customer experience. Until then, chatbots need to be viewed within the larger perennial issue of ‘customer service and sales.’

Chatbots for Small Business?

Customer experience – ugh – what despair these words usually deliver to busy small business owners trying to keep it all together. Yes small business needs to focus on the customer experience. But aren’t most small businesses so close to their customers everyday that customer experience ‘strategy’ is basically the business plan itself? Chatbots by definition separate the customer from your business. And while they can provide a step up in customer service offerings, chatbots can easily feel remote and clunky, especially when compared to human interaction.

Which gets to the real possible benefit of chatbots for small business at present, better customer service at lower cost. Or at least comparable customer service at lower cost. Much lower cost potentially, when you consider all the costs surrounding the employment of a human being, free coffee and refrigerator storage allowance just to name a few.

Chatbots get customers to where they want to go faster. Think reservation and catalog searching. And when you add even basic AI tools to the mix, chatbots can quickly deliver information to customers how and when they want it. And of course, at significantly less cost than a human being providing that information.

Where They Can Fit Into Your Customer Service

For small business the allure of chatbots has never been more enticing. Cheap to build, cheap to maintain, juiced with new cloud based AI services, chatbots have a lot of potential. In 2018 though, chatbots for small business need be thoroughly scrutinized to make sure they aren’t making the whole customer service experience worse than better. How many times would you rather have a new prospect on the phone rather than on an automated chatbot? Still chatbots for small business can:

  1. Manage growing inbound inquiries: If your find your inbound system frequently taxed by periodic surges investment in chatbot tech is justified.
  2. Tame a large product catalog: If you feel your customers get frustrated at your spec sheets, catalogs, and product descriptions chatbots are a great way to help customers find specific product information quickly.
  3. Market research: Perhaps chatbots greatest benefit right now is the feedback you can get from customers experience with them. How your customers navigate chatbots can provide instant insights into how customers want to buy, and the common questions they seek answers to can help better define your marketing and sales collateral.

Chatbots have tremendous upside but can make more mischief than money for small business that can’t afford to smooth out the rough edges of chatbot tech or integrate chatbots within a larger sales apparatus effectively.




Does My Small Business Need Care About Blockchain Yet?

Short answer, no. Long answer, if you’re in professional services then no, but it’s coming to you soon in some form.

What’s funny in all this bitcoin hoopla is that the technology underpinning it is really pretty simple. Or the idea anyway of blockchain once you look under the hood is very simple in concept. And the uses of blockchain one can argue will be far more impactful on day to day of business than it will be as the engine of cryptocurrencies of whatever flavor.

Where’s block chain coming to business? Transactions, contracts, quotes, documents, and the management of these is where blockchain tech will likely surface. Hence, professional services like legal, medical, and accounting will probably first be exposed to the potential and the pitfalls of investing in block chain tech.

Main issue for small business and block chain: the ridiculously fast paced nature of block chain development means that you have navigate this torrid river of updates and upgrades and the concomitant security issues that will come with such immature technology.

Block chain or the next iteration, or the one thereafter 😉 promise to have a profound effect on business transactions. It’s a very simple but very secure idea that has a lot of room to grow, but also a lot of growing pains in front of it.


GSuite Device Management To Ease “Bring Your Own Device” Pains

How does a growing small business manage the complexity that Bring Your Own Device brings to employee management. Device Management, included with Gsuite for Business, is one solution that is both powerful and simple, allowing even busy business owners to control and track employee devices that are used for work.

If you’re unfamiliar with Gsuite mobile management this is a good place to start:

The first and obvious benefit of Gsuite device management is that if an employee phone is lost or stolen you can remotely delete all work related Gsuite information from the device. Also you can lock screens, provide strong passwords. This is obviously a needed feature for business with compliance requirements such as health and medical who need to be stringent about private health information sharing.

Gsuite device management also allows you to organize employee mobile apps quickly and easily. And perhaps the biggest selling point for Gsuite device management is its ease of use. Adding, deleting, and monitoring employee devices is managed in the Gsuite admin via an intuitive, easy to learn dashboard.

Couple of issues if you are considering Gsuite device management

  1. Gsuite device management requires employees to download and app on iOS and android. And sometimes it will require a restart or in rare cases an uninstall/reinstall of the device management app to get the phone registered and running properly.
  2. Gsuite is advancing their mobile security features, but you still need to configure them properly. Default-On mobile management from Gsuite can be a powerful way to manage devices but again each company’s use case will require an assessment of Gsuite device management’s security settings.
  3. Consider segmenting your ‘device classes’ from the beginning. Device notifications for example you can turn on for some users but not for others.

Gsuite device management is a power tool that is included at no extra cost with the Gsuite for Business service. Google is currently rolling out new mobile management features that all small business using Gsuite should investigate.

For more information of Gsuite’s latest mobile security features:


Test Your Site on Mobile Lately?

Sometimes you actually have to turn off your phone’s wifi, open up Chrome and plugin your site’s URL and make sure everything is up to snuff. It happens more times than you think, that changes to the site’s design, even small, can knock the mobile view off kilter. Especially in areas of image rendering, simple header resizing, or font changes.

Google has a very nifty tool for mobile testing your site that is definitely worth the 2 or 3 minutes it takes to run the test. And no, it’s not a substitute for turning off your phone’s wifi and checking your site live. But the tool analyzes a wide range of mobile issue, provides you with a score, and offers to send complete results to your email.

Google site mobile tester

And these days let’s face it, it’s not enough that you have a decent looking presence on a phone, your site needs to look just as sharp and crisp in 5 inches as it does in 17 inches or more. Mobile responsive themes written for WordPress are more sophisticated than ever with granular configuration for each page for up to 4 different screen resolutions.

But yes, take the time to open up your site on your phone why don’t you? You might be surprised that your beautiful laptop loving site has grown a few blemishes on the small screen. Consider it par for the course in the blurring world of mobile and web apps. Your site can do a lot more on mobile than you think, and production grade tools exist to provide fine tune control of how your site gets rendered on multiple screen.