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According to the 2019 Cloud predictions report published by Forrester, 2019 is the year that widespread adoption of the cloud will hit the enterprise.
There are a handful of vendors supporting this new age of digital transformation. Their solutions in everything from data storage to machine learning and app creation have transformed the way we interact with the digital world.
Though in the past, Google may not have turned as many heads as competitors like Microsoft and AWS, things have begun to change recently. Thanks to innovations in disruptive technology, an updated strategy, and a transformed leadership team, 2019 could be the year of the GCP.
Here's what we've seen from Google so far, and what we expect going forward into the rest of 2019.
A Change in Cloud Leadership
Perhaps the most significant transformation for Google at the start of this year has been the change in their leadership team. CEO of Google's cloud unit, Diane Greene announced in November 2019 that she'd be leaving the company this January. In a corporate blog post, Greene revealed that she had only planned to work with Google for 2 years when you started in 2015 but ended up staying on an additional year.
Though she's handing management of the cloud unity over to the former Oracle exec, Thomas Kurian, Greene won't be stepping away from Google entirely. Diane noted that she'd be remaining a part of the board for Google's parent company, Alphabet.
When Google hired Diane Greene as their head of the cloud computing business, analysts saw the move as a competitive step forward. Greene co-founded the enterprise company VMWare - the brand responsible for popularizing virtualization technology. With her help, Google consolidated the cloud computing products in its portfolio under a single unit. Greene's leadership was also responsible for introducing the new branding for Google's workplace products, and the name G-Suite.
During her time at the head of the cloud segment for Google, Greene has overseen numerous crucial acquisitions and developments. She helped with the purchase of software company Apigee and introduced various new machine-learning services.
Writing about her resignation, Greene said that the 3 years she had spent at Google had been incredibly "productive" and stimulating. Going forward, she plans to continue mentoring and supporting female founders with science and engineering backgrounds.
According to the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, Diane has done a great deal to accelerate Google's growth in the last 3 years. The team is thrilled that she will continue to serve on the board of directors, and they're looking forward to the input of new leader, Thomas Kurian.
Better Support for Google Enterprise Partners
New leadership at the head of the Google cloud doesn't just mean a change in faces at the company. It also means a shift in strategy too. During his inaugural speech, Kurian announced that he would be tackling one of the problems that have been holding Google back for years. Though the search and machine learning giant delivers exceptional technology, it's often struggled with selling to large enterprise companies.
Kurian said that he plans to address this issue going forward, by hiring and training new salespeople. Thomas will be leading the charge to create a team of support agents specializing in specific industries. This will help the Google Cloud Platform to deliver better experiences for larger, more traditional businesses.
Kurian will also be striking deals with new systems integrators. These deals will be fundamental in executing significant migration and hybrid technology projects for large companies. By investing more time and effort into sales and customer success, Google will gain more trust from enterprise customers. In the past, Google has tried consistently to sell to larger brands. Greene helped a great deal with building Google's presence in the market. Over the past 3 years, the cloud sales force has quadrupled in size. However, currently, the GCP remains in third place for sales.
While Kurian's strategy echoes many of the previous efforts laid out by Greene, they will also push the company to deliver a more tailored set of offerings. He acknowledged that different businesses want specific things from Google. The new strategy will allow Google to deliver the specialist support their clients need.
Kurian is also planning on making the most of the fact that Google doesn't compete directly with retailers - unlike Amazon. In his speech, Thomas noted that Google is here to "enable" partners, rather than fighting against them.
When talking about his decision to join Google, Kurian said that he had spoken to the company's customers and found the technology to be the "best in the market." Now, all Thomas has to do is convince bigger businesses to invest in this innovative tech.
G Suite Pricing Gets a Price Hike
Another major announcement from Google this year was its decision to raise prices for the first time in GCP history.
The G-Suite productivity suite, which competes with Microsoft Office 365, is increasing prices from $5 per month per user to $6. It's not a huge price increase, but it's something that's sent ripples through the industry. From a competitive perspective, the price move helps to align Google with its competitors. Office 365 is a lot more expensive than Google - even after the increase. It may be that larger companies have ignored G Suite in the past because it was so cheap.
Additionally, Google made a point of stating that their prices had remained the same over the years, even though the functionality of G-Suite had evolved.
Ultimately, the new price simply makes more sense in an environment where the G-Suite can offer a lot more than it initially did. When Google's G-Suite pricing was first introduced more than ten years ago, there was a much smaller package of applications available to users. Over the years, we've seen the introduction of countless new things, like Google Drive, Hangouts, Calendar, and so on. The only way for Google to keep delivering innovation at a good pace is for them to update their pricing.
CES 2019 Delivers a Stream of Announcements
If you've been keeping up with the recent announcements from Google, then you'll know that CES 2019 was a big deal for the company. While many of the major announcements at CES were linked to the developments for Google assistant, they offer a great insight into where Google is heading. This year, it seems like we'll see even more progress in AI and machine learning.
Google Assistant Comes to New Devices
As part of the CES announcements, Google revealed a preview of Google Assistant Connect. This new platform will allow device creators to add the features of Google Assistant to their products in a simple and affordable way.
For instance, manufacturers could create visual displays for the Home Hub, then enable voice demands on the device with Assistant. The decision to make Google Assistant more accessible seems to be a part of a broader strategy by Google to branch out further into the smart devices field. This would also help Google to become more competitive compared to companies like Amazon.
Google noted that access to the technology wouldn't be available until later in 2019. However, developers and manufacturers are encouraged to fill out forms as early as possible. Before then, there's still plenty of things to explore in Google Assistant. Recently, Google announced new capabilities for assistant on their Maps system too. This will make finding wherever you need to be easier on both Android and iOS.
Google and Sonos Combine
Another evolution in the AI and machine learning environment for Google came with the announcement of a new partnership. Google is currently working on making their voice-powered features available on more devices. To support that aim, they'll be partnering with Sonos to bring Google Assistant onto Sonos Smart Speakers. This will allow users to tell their Google assistant to play podcasts and music with hands-free commands. There's no need to even pick up your phone to start your music playing.
This Sonos partnership is an obvious part of Google's attempt to integrate their AI into more entertainment-heavy areas. Recently, Google also announced its partnership with Samsung to the same end. The Samsung collaboration will give users the option to speak voice commands to change TV settings. For instance, you can verbally control the volume or change the channel.
Google Interpretation and Translation
One of the more impressive aspects of Google's AI portfolio is its Translate tool. The system can intelligently translate information in real time from one language to another. The new "Interpreter Mode" that is now available for Assistant is an insight into what Google is doing with voice tech. In Interpreter mode, it's possible to translate conversations in real-time, with support for 27 languages.
Google will also be bringing the same translation abilities into the Google Home Hub. Today, Home users can ask for Assistant's help to converse with people in another language. For instance, you could say "Hey Google, be my French translator," and the Home hub will instantly shift to interpreter mode. The translations will be available in both spoken and written format too. The feature was shown for the first time at CES 2019 this year.
What's Coming Next for Google?
It's difficult to know for certain what 2019 has in store for Google - or the cloud in general. However, it's safe to say that Google seems to have started the year on an exciting foot. While other companies have been struggling to get over the fatigue from their winter break - Google has stormed ahead. With endless announcements at CES and a range of crucial changes, we're seeing a lot of action at Google this year.
At the beginning of February, Google also revealed the fourth quarter earnings report through parent company, Alphabet. According to Alphabet, Google's "other revenue" segment, which includes the GCP, continue to grow at the end of 2018, and the beginning of this year. It's difficult to gauge for certain how significant the growth is, as the "other" segment also includes Google's hardware sales. However, for 2018's fourth quarter, Google's other segment accounted for a massive $6.49 billion. This number is 31% bigger than the profit from the last year.
According to the Alphabet CEO, Google more than doubled its GCP deals worth over $1 million. Additionally, the number of multi-year contracts signed also increased. Pichai said that 2018 ended with Google passing another milestone. The Google Cloud G-Suite solution earned 5 million paying customers, according to reports.
During the fourth quarter for 2018, Google launched its 18th region for the Google Cloud, opened new offices in Berlin, and announced a new data center in Denmark. Additionally, Google announced that they'd be investing over $1 billion in capital improvements to develop a new campus in New York. On top of that, Google will continue to invest in data center expansion and construction. This will be crucial to the continued innovation of Google's Search and Cloud sectors.
Crucially, Google also increased its hiring patterns during the last quarter of the year. This is a sign of the moves that the company is making towards building out its sales organization. In an attempt to compete more aggressively in the year ahead, Google will be developing a bigger and better team. The number of employees hired in the last quarter alone reached over 4,000.
All the while, new innovations, and products roll out all the time. Google recently announced its open API for Google documents. The API is designed to give businesses more control over their knowledge bases and workflows. On the other hand, Google is also increasing. It's relationships with the health sector, delivering more machine learning and AI to space. The National Institutes of Health recently announced that they're bringing Google Cloud into their biomedical research.
Whatever happens this year, it's fair to say that Google isn't slowing down any time soon. To get more out of your Google strategy, reach out to Coolhead Tech today.