How Google Made CES 2011 Work for Livio Radio

CES marked the third anniversary of our company and was the most focused CES I have ever attended (including previous shows while working at Delphi and ION.)

Every show we attend we work hard to have a detailed list of goals and meetings. Maybe in another post I’ll explain our process for this year but in years past we have had trouble sticking to our plan with a lot of missed meetings.

For the past few years our office was using iCal and an online CALDAV server that pretty much sucked. I made the decision to make the switch to Google and it was a pretty good idea. (and it’s free to use)

Benefits and Examples:

1.     With the new system we could wirelessly sync calendars on our iPhones while we were in Vegas and during the show.

2.     We used our bookkeeper as a “temporary” administrative assistant to book meetings and make calls to manage our calendars.

3.     We set up a shared CES calendar to see all appointments, and had the CES calendar invite the people in our company that needed to participate.

4.     We had a press conference (our companies first) and used Google Calendar to send the press meeting invitations with the calendar event, which worked well. Also worth noting that one of the biggest failures of iCal is that sending invitations isn’t ubiquitous between Mac and Windows operating systems. Sending from Google really seemed to fix the issue

5.     Setting automatic notifications for meetings works out really well for the calendar system

Minor Complaints

1.     Time Zone support online is kind of joke. There’s now way to set a time zone of the meeting when you set one which made it difficult and confusing when visually seeing and sending out invitations. We solved this by putting the time into the subject of the meeting (e.g. “11AM – Livio/Grooveshark Meeting”)

2.     iCal support is pretty weak for Google – Basically sending invitations can be sketchy. I’ve been using it on my machine as a guinea pig but I had everyone else in the office stop using iCal all together. Also setting a location for a meeting in iCal kind of sucks as well as it is trying to reference some database and bubbles the name up like an email (weird.)

3.     To access calendars on the iPhone, you have to go to m.google.com/sync on your iPhone, log in, then select the iPhone, then select calendars.

4.     Picking colors for calendars was a pain on the iPhone as there is no way to set the colors. The only work around was adding one calendar at a time on step 3 above, then unselecting and reselecting to force the iPhone to delete and re-add one calendar at a time with a new color.

Notes:

1.     In addition to switching the calendar, we also switched over our email (changed MX records) to Google, which has been great and now supports push on iPhone when setting up the Google account as an exchange account in the iPhone settings.

2.     We are using the free version of google but there is an option to pay per user/year for more advanced business features.

3.     We were able to set up all the subdomains for email which is great to have for our staff to know how to log into the email/calendar/docs/etc when they are on a new machine.