Looking back at the fourth week of Google Next OnAir event. And with this being the fourth week, the event is almost over. Again, Google built these sessions mainly on the announcements it had already made this summer. And looking back on this week, there were a whole series of them. Especially if we look at the broad scope of announcements that were central this week.
Data in the broadest sense of the word.
We then talk about everything that has to do with the management environment (the databases), analyzing the data itself (how do I get insights from my data?) And the use of AI in that data environment (how do I enrich those insights through the use of Machine Learning?).
This week was a home game for Google. After all, nobody in this world manages so much data in these fields. And based on its own needs and experiences, Google has placed a series of specific data solutions on the market in recent years.
From BigQuery, the analysis tool that forces Google’s breakthrough in the Enterprise market, to Looker, the environment where you dynamically present the data to a series of AutoML products that allow you to quickly set up Machine Learning applications for your company without in-depth AI knowledge.
But rather than zooming in on that today – because quite technical – I mainly wanted to introduce you to a Google approach that was central in the keynote this week. Grow with Google.
Growing together is the objective
The project is based on the idea that our world is at a tipping point. A number of ideas have been exhausted, in need of renewal. And that change will be drastic. Countless jobs will change or simply disappear. But a whole series of new jobs will also be created. And just as the internet has greatly changed our consumption and actions in the past twenty years, now Artificial Intelligence is provoking a stream of changes. Add to this the required approach to the climate issue and you have a situation where many of the existing systems will be destroyed.
The key to making that change is knowledge. We are all going to have to learn new skills. And we must take everything literally here. Knowing how drastically these changes will affect our society, it is essential that everyone in our society, including minority groups or developing countries, or just anyone who has cleared the technology boat in any way, has the opportunity to close that gap.
And that is how Grow with Google was born, a project to give as many people and companies as possible in this world the opportunity to acquire and apply new technology knowledge. To date, some 14 million people in EMEA have received such training.
Then came the pandemic. And with the pandemic an acceleration of the change process. Because in five months the world made a change that in normal circumstances would have taken as long as five years. Internet use worldwide increased by sixty percent. Searches for specific products doubled during that period. And Google saw the use of its video conferencing solution grow by a factor of thirty at peak times.
You also saw similar changes in the companies that have already made the digital shift. Landbot, a platform on which you can develop chatbots, sent around 280 million automatically generated chat messages during the first pandemic wave. Or Ocado, an English online supermarket with home delivery only, saw its turnover grow by 40 percent.
But not everyone benefited in the same way. Certain sectors have been hit hard and we already know that rebuilding our economy is going to be a huge challenge. Covid-19 has added an extra dimension to Google’s initiative. Where the old program was aimed at supporting people and companies in their growth trajectory by offering training and tools, among other things. Grow (stronger) with Google now also focuses on supporting the economic recovery during and after the pandemic. How can Google’s technology, tools and training help companies, individuals and communities to become stronger, more agile and above all more resilient?
Grow with Google then fits into a broader Google program that is based on four pillars:
- Developing skills;
- Providing the right tooling;
- Setting up joint initiatives with the government;
- Help with the transition to a world without fossil fuels,
Today we mainly look at the first two components of the story:
A different approach in terms of training
Perhaps the most sweeping approach in Grow with Google is the new way Google wants to handle IT education. The company itself has defined a number of job profiles for which they now offer training via the Coursera training platform. Think, for example, of Data Analyst, Project Manager or IT support specialist. After six months of training and the necessary exams, Google awards the necessary badges (say diplomas). And in collaboration with a growing group of companies, Google also wants to help the students find the right job.
These trainings are not free, but Google provides additional support to those groups that would otherwise find it difficult to access this training through 100,000 grants and through specific support (such as language training). What makes the training unique is that no prior diplomas are required. The aim is to minimize the barrier to entry. In addition, efforts are being made to integrate this program into government initiatives as much as possible. In Italy, for example, in a joint initiative with the local government, nearly 100,000 students have already been trained.
More information can be found at: cloud.google.com/training/grow
Wide access to tools
The second element of the program is the further development of tooling.
In the first place, this also concerns the classic Google products that revolve around collaboration. Think in the first place of Workspace. But also an environment such as Google My Business that literally and figuratively puts your company on the map. And to a series of initiatives that Google has taken in Maps to keep the business functioning as smoothly as possible in these Corona times.
But the most crucial message in the story is the need for companies to get to know and especially learn to use AI. The Grow your business with AI initiative also fits in that context.
The fact that Belgium still has some work to do in the field of digital readiness, is evident from our position in the digital index around Digital Lifelong Learning that Google has set up together with the CEPS. The Netherlands is in second place after Estonia. Belgium in a sobering twenty-first place!
More information about the entire Grow with Google process can be found here.
European reference of the week: IKEA
In itself it may start to be a monotonous, but above all a very reassuring story. Ikea has been using Google technology for a while and – fortunately for the group two and a half years ago – decided to choose Google for its digital transformation story. Although still a long way from the end goal (although I doubt that they will ever have an end goal in these volatile times) they were already able to respond quickly to the new situation with the outbreak of the pandemic.
A new situation that was accompanied by a spectacular growth of their e-commerce business. In an interview it is described as a permanent Black Friday situation. A collective movement to turn houses into offices and study places. With a direct doubling of e-commerce as a result.
And then, of course, scalability becomes essential. Scalability that the Swedish group has been looking for in GCP (Google Cloud Platform) Which they implemented across the market – I said it was going to be a bit monotonous – thanks to BigQuery and Google’s artificial intelligence tooling. They helped to adjust processes in these new times. For example, to enable contactless reaching out.
You can find the full interview here.
And yes, what strikes me in all the concrete Google stories of European players is the strong position of the combination of BigQuery and Machine Learning. BMG, Deutsche Bank, Ikea, Renault all refer to that combination to substantiate their choice for the Google platform. Something to include in your evaluations of the cloud market.