Google’s recently-concluded Google Cloud Next 18 event saw developers, leaders and partners from across the community come together. From context-aware access to shielded virtual machines and binary authorisation, Google announced a variety of security tools and capabilities to secure data and the operating environment. The event was all about organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible, as Google CEO Sundar Pichai had said during the conference.
It also sent out a strong signal that Google is committed to its partners. The leaders spoke at length about their partnership with companies like Cisco, SAP and Deloitte. They also welcomed 19 partners in five new specialisation areas so as to enable customers with more industry-specific assistance in moving to cloud-based services. It also saw SaaS-specific initiatives with a new set of programs to bring SaaS applications to their customers.
Nina Harding, channel chief, Global Partner Strategy and Programs at Google Cloud said in a blog post that they are focused on a 100 percent commitment to their partners. “We are bringing partners along on site to our customers to work hand-in-hand with us to innovate with some of the strategic customers around the globe,” she added.
Harding had also emphasised on how they have increased the number of technology partners by over 10 times and have more than doubled their team supporting these partners.
“In the last one year, we’ve signed new and expanded partnerships with Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG and many, many more. These partnerships are already having a positive impact on our customers, who can use Google Cloud through their existing partner relationships and generally get the benefits of cloud more easily,” she said.
How Will It Help AI-Based Startups And SMEs?
The team at Google believes that whether businesses are moving up the cloud to speed up innovation, discover important insights from their data, or transform the way they work, they often need help. And that is when the prominence of Google Cloud Partners programme comes in. These ‘partners’ can offer everything from migration support, solutions built on their platform to value-added services to these players. It often forms an indispensable part of their mission to bring solutions in AI, ML and cloud to more businesses.
In response to the increased demand for specific solutions and services, Google Cloud has also increased specialisation levels to better connect partners with customers. As Harding believes, many customers need partners with a great deal of experience in a particular area to help them build advanced solutions specific to their businesses, and this is when their new partner program can largely benefit.
“To help customers identify the right partner, we offer specialisations, a designation that recognises partners with deep technical expertise and proven customer success in a particular area,” she said.
These specialised offering along with their partners can prove to be an important source to drive innovation and hybrid solutions in companies likely to just start or mid-size companies looking to delve in AI ecosystem.
Where’s The Benefit
As mentioned earlier, in order to scale AI services into all market verticals, a broad array of partners with deep domain expertise and unique differentiation could be a big help for startups and mid-sized companies looking to venture out in AI space. It is difficult for a single vendor to carry out innovations at such a big scale all alone. And given the fact that Google still has to do some catching up compared to its competitors such as Amazon Web Services, they have to rely strongly on development and support by solutions partners.
While it all seems easy with partners delivering the solutions as and when they want, it may not necessarily be that easy. When it comes to executing, Google Partner Advantage has a limited number of players to be able to democratise AI to an extent that it is aiming to. For a nascent and fragmented market for AI-enabled cloud solutions, it would give greater benefit to have an inclusive approach. Google’s strategy needs to focus more on motivating players of all sizes and heritage to join the ecosystem.
Many experts believe that Google’s Cloud Partner Advantage program is still brand new and over the time will see strong room for improvement. But for now, many believe that it is headed in the wrong direction and need to stack up their technological play. While Google is setting an up online community for its partners where they can share best practices with each other and get updates from the company, it might be a long way to go.
Having said that, Google’s progress in AI has improved significantly over the years and its focus on applied AI and business solutions are making it easy for customers to think of Google as AI leader and approach it for solutions in machine learning and AI, especially after the expansion of its work in AutoML. Google’s AutoML allows companies to build powerful ML models to suit specific needs without requiring any specialised knowledge in machine learning or coding, on which we did a detailed feature here.