10 lessons over 10 years: State of Wyoming and Google Cloud celebrate a decade of serving the community
When Wyoming became the first state to transition all its employees to Google Workspace ten years ago, everyone expected a million dollars in cost savings. What started as a move to save money and ease communication has turned into much more. While the cost savings continues to be significant, state efficiency skyrocketed, allowing employees to spend more time working directly with the community.
This year, we're celebrating 10 of the most important lessons learned over ten years in our Wyoming-Google partnership.
1. Collaborative tools breed a collaborative culture. Wyoming was prepared when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing our workers to transition to at-home environments. Employees across the state were already using Google Workspace collaboration and productivity tools, which made the switch easy. We also had already set a precedent by hosting a key budget meeting over Google Meet from outside the country. Using Google Meet in such a high visibility meeting showed state employees that every level of government could benefit from digital collaboration. This culture was made possible by Google Workspace tools.
2. Digital tools can connect the community with essential services. That same collaborative spirit helped our government employees better connect with our community throughout the pandemic, delivering key information for food assistance, as an example. One in five children in Wyoming suffer from food insecurity. Google Workspace allows programs like the Wyoming Hunger Initiative to run smoothly, as everything from scheduling and planning events, to tracking and research, is handled with Google Workspace. The data gathered and stored in Google Cloud is protected and helps to bring meals to the kids who need them most.
3. Easy-to-use apps make transitions simpler. Google Workspace apps have been a breeze to learn from day one. They are designed to be intuitive and state employees are able to get the hang of the software simply by trying it themselves. We also developed a training series for new users to further ease the transition. Training is offered every six weeks so users can take the training when they are onboarded or at any time they need a refresher.
As I started my career with the State of Wyoming, Wyoming began its journey as the first state to go Google - forever changing how and where we work. This was especially evident as we worked through our emergency telework at the height of the pandemic. Whether meeting with stakeholders around the capitol complex, across the state or teleworking from home, Google ensures our teams are always connected and collaborating.
4. Invest in students, invest in the future. How do you enable students to retain access to their work and emails as they transition from elementary to middle and high school? Wyoming developed "Wyo for Life ," which established a state email domain across all our school districts. Students get an email address with unlimited data that they can keep forever. This makes the transition for students seamless, and their digital portfolio is theirs for life.
5. Switching to Google Cloud saved millions on technology costs. The cost savings from moving to Google have taken many forms over the years. Google Cloud's migration tools made it easy to move various systems to a single centralized platform, consolidating IT resources—and saving money—across the state. In the past 10 years, the cost of Google Workspace within the Department of Transportation has increased by only 7%, a third of the inflation rate over the same period. Our state also switched from a $1.5 million legacy video conferencing system to Google Chromeboxes in 2015—at a fraction of the cost. When combined with the savings over each year, the switch has saved taxpayers a compelling amount of money. This allows our state to keep innovating and adapting without putting pressure on taxpayers.
6. Security is both simpler and stronger. In the last decade, Wyoming has become the state with one of the best security records in the country. We have consistently ranked in the top five most secure states, year after year, with the help of Google Cloud. Other states have found it difficult to keep constituent data secure, and major breaches have left communities across the country floundering. By partnering with Google, we have ensured constituent data is constantly secure.
7. Flexibility is crucial for governments that want to grow. Focusing on flexibility, the State of Wyoming has been able to look at the needs of our employees and community and change the way we apply technology to our constituent services with Google Workspace. As those needs have changed, we have been able to shift our focus and better serve constituents without having to spend time rebuilding internal systems.
8. Working together has led to stronger, more cost-effective solutions over time. Our state has access to Google Cloud experts, and that relationship has allowed real flexibility. For example, Google Meet and its predecessor Google Hangouts, weren't available at the beginning of our partnership. When it became clear that those tools could serve the Department of Corrections, we worked with Google Cloud to ensure the tool was added to our Google Workspace portfolio.
9. Workspace apps are always improving. Google Cloud is constantly evolving, upgrading, and improving their products to serve their users better. The hundreds of product updates they’ve put out over the years have benefited us as a long-term customer, and Google Workspace for Government ensures the complex problem of running an efficient public office has real solutions.
10. Community is key, even outside of Wyoming. The State of Wyoming is part of a larger community of public sector workers using Google called Public Sector Connect. All public sector employees can connect with others, join discussions, and get inspired by how Google tools are changing government and education. All community members hold positions in government or education, and new ideas are being shared every day. This community is at the forefront of public sector innovation. We meet with Google engineers and suggest solutions, feature set requests, and learn from others about problem-solving, innovation and implementation. This is the space that has been lacking in the public sector for years and if you are in the public sector, please join!
Using Google has allowed the State of Wyoming government to focus on our future roadmap. Over the last 10 years, instead of retrofitting our ideas into legacy technology or developing applications as we go, Google Workspace and Google Cloud contained all of the tools to achieve our milestones seamlessly. Google Workspace contains all of the applications our end users need for working remotely, in-person, or hybrid. The harmony between Google Workspace and Google Cloud opens new opportunities for our government, to include data analytics, big queries, and the use of artificial intelligence. Our enterprise processes have modernized thanks to the innovative solutions and support by Google.
Now 10 years later, we are proud of the partnership we have built with Google Cloud and are looking forward to the next 10 years using Google to support our community.