Julio Velázquez
Managing Director
Google Cloud Mexico
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Giving Purpose to a Company's Most Valuable Asset: Data

By Andrea Villar | Mon, 08/23/2021 - 05:00

Q: What is your elevator pitch to convince a company to migrate to Google's cloud?

A: It certainly depends on the type of company but, in general, I would say that the cloud is a vehicle by which organizations are solving their challenges and finding opportunities, both in these complex times, and as a possibility for them to grow and innovate in the future. To explain why companies need to be in the cloud, I would like to mention three big trends. The first trend is that every business needs a digital gateway. Physical presence is no longer enough to sustain a growing business. For example, retailers can connect with their customers through a mobile app, website, chat, and call center with Artificial Intelligence. Digital solutions also promote new ways of working. The adoption of technology is a fundamental element because it allows you to do what you’re used to, but with a lower cost and with a much greater capacity for innovation.

The second trend is that with the cloud, companies have the possibility of data management. Data has become one of the most important assets of all companies today. All businesses and industries generate a lot of information, the problem is that it has been collected and accumulated but not put to any useful purpose in most cases. If a business is looking to reinvent itself and continue to innovate and improve the way it reaches customers, the cloud is an ideal mechanism. And the third trend is that the cloud provides companies a faster and different way to compete in an increasingly challenging and hybrid world. Collaboration and remote working are here to stay. Because of that Google’s technology to promote high productivity has become a helpful ally for companies now and in the future.

Q: What strategies has Google developed to have the best visibility and control over cloud environments?

A: One key element is BigQuery, a cloud-based data warehouse that scales almost infinitely, and that allows streaming data in real time and get up-to-date information on all of the company’s business processes. The infrastructure we use at Google to serve our customers is the same we use in our own products, like YouTube, Google Maps and Google Search. Each of them has over 1 billion users and have proven not only their security but also their scalability and flexibility. Traditionally, many companies have worked with data warehouses, which are architectures and hardware-based solutions with physical limitations. In the cloud, there is no such limitation. The limitation is your ability to reinvent yourself.

Finally, we employ the highest security standards to ensure that the information remains in the possession of our customers. Data is encrypted while it is at rest, during processing and during transmission. Companies are guaranteed that their information is secure.

Q: How does Google Cloud stay ahead of the growing competition?

A: Google works with free and open-source software. This does not mean free code but software that is available to all companies developing a project, this is to prevent the creation of locks. In other words, if you develop an application in the cloud that runs on Google and tomorrow you want to migrate to another cloud, you can do so without hindrance. We promote free competition and make a large part of our cultural and technological heritage available to the rest of the technology ecosystem. We also care about optimization. The cloud is a fantastic vehicle, not only to innovate and transform but also to look for financial and operational efficiencies. For example, according to a Forrester Consulting Study, customers that adopt Anthos, our application which allows a frictionless experience for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, can achieve a range of up to 4.8x Return on Investment (ROI) within three years.

Security is at the heart of everything we do. We have a zero-trust policy. Our approach is to devise all possible points of attack. Cybercrime is an industry with highly trained people who are looking for any vulnerability in the systems to carry out an attack. We are constantly improving our systems and helping customers to bring this mindset into their businesses. Additionally, our expertise in real-time data and analytics continues to differentiate us in the Data Cloud, one of the fastest-growing segments of the market. Also, our deep expertise in AI and machine learning remains a key differentiator. Finally, Google Workspace. We have designed this product to meet the challenges of hybrid work and have strengthened it with innovations in recent months.

Q: The US government has ranked ransomware on the same level as terrorism. What is Google’s approach to this threat?

A: There are millions of attack attempts in the world every day. Addressing them is a process of continuous improvement that never stops. The key is to incorporate advanced algorithms and especially artificial intelligence to anticipate attacks. As our CEO, Sundar Pichai, recently said, ransomware attacks are a wake-up call for the industry. Over two decades, Google has built some of the most secure computing systems in the world, and we’re proud that our Google Cloud customers can benefit from our experience. For example, through the Chronicle data analytics platform, we enable companies to store and analyze all their security data in one place to detect and investigate threats on a large scale. Google Cloud analyzes that information in real time and identifies potential attacks early and takes action. In fact, our zero-trust approach and our catalog of security solutions help our customers to minimize the impact of cyberattacks.

Q: What are the main pain points for companies in Mexico and how can Google Cloud support them?

A: The biggest challenge is not technological. It comes from adopting a culture that embraces technology and changing the mindset to believe that there are new ways of doing projects and optimizing customer service. McKinsey & Company estimates that the pandemic drove the digitization of company operations by approximately three to four years. We moved forward about 36 to 48 months as a result of the pandemic. We have been forced to adopt new technologies basically because the world before the pandemic was a far cry from the world we know today. Within these changes, the cloud has helped to remove obsolescence. Previous approaches involved capital expenditure (CAPEX) models for acquiring technology, which over time became obsolete and had to be renewed. With the cloud, that does not happen. Companies invest only in what they need because it is flexible and elastic. With the cloud, nothing is obsolete and you are always on the cutting-edge of technology.

As changes have taken place, we have seen the need for a hybrid environment. Physical presence is no longer enough to sustain a growing business. There is a study that says 59 percent of organizations worldwide have accelerated or introduced remote working and collaboration capabilities. This goes beyond video conferencing; it means accessing spreadsheets or modifying a presentation simultaneously, and having in-depth collaboration with multiple people at different times across several parts of the world. Managing hybrid and multi-cloud environments requires a specialized platform such as Google Workspace, that allows having every application in the same place, where all team members can communicate and work together, even if they’re not physically together. Another important tool that allows this to run smoothly is Google's Anthos, which promotes frictionless multi-cloud environments and gives the customer the freedom to move real-time or seasonal loads to different clouds automatically.

Q: What are some particular industries that could benefit from the cloud but may not even know it?

A: They may know the benefits but they don’t know how to start the journey toward the cloud or advanced data analytics. Some challenges are technical and others cultural. People are used to the status quo and we don’t always like change. Companies know that they are not exploiting information. For instance, the retail industry has mastered the ability to collect data and has mechanisms in place to leverage some of it. However, it still faces the major challenge of data being stuck in hard-to-reach places. Their data is fragmented across departments or areas. There is a lot of information but it is siloed and not available for what is needed. Data clouds allow you to unify this information and increase agility and innovation. We help retailers modernize their data warehouse with solutions such as Looker for gathering business intelligence across their organization. This is important not just for consumer data, but inventory, supply chain, and store operations as well.

Something similar is happening in banking, which is a highly regulated industry. For the sector, there are also cloud solutions that address their risks and regulatory needs. In the past, this would have been seen as absurd because the cloud was perceived to be insecure, so all the information had to remain in a data center. We have seen over time that this is not true. Data can be offshore, completely secure, accessible to its owner and auditable in particular cases. In banking, Google's technology helps reduce risk and data loss by creating a comprehensive zero-trust architecture. We ensure that nothing has to be sacrificed between ease of use and security.

For example, BBVA deployed Chronicle, Google Cloud’s security analytics platform to allow the bank teams to store and analyze all their security data in one place to detect and investigate threats at scale. The telecom industry is facing a particular phenomenon as it is an industry that experiences many peaks in demand. Having a large investment held up for hours or days because that demand was not met leaves a big impact. The cloud gives companies the flexibility to adapt to both peak and off-peak internet traffic. Across all industries, data is at the heart of transformation and new project delivery.

Q: What does Google Cloud expect from its partnerships with Banorte, Grupo Herdez and Liverpool?

A: Liverpool, a company with a long tradition and more than 400 shops in Mexico, started working with Google Cloud to continue and accelerate its digital transformation. Liverpool is continuing to capitalize on the opportunities in the retail industry to meet the expectations of its customers. Google's solutions will enable the group to optimize inventory management and increase collaboration between its more than 75,000 employees located across the country.

Banorte is not the first bank we have worked with in Mexico, but it is the largest Mexican-owned bank we have partnered with. Through this alliance, we seek to drive the hyper-personalization of Banorte's value proposition. Hyper-personalization means that each customer must be treated individually to make users feel that their bank knows them better and can provide them personalized offers to cover their needs, such as a mortgage or additional life insurance. That is what Banorte aims to do through AI and open banking applications. In open banking, everyone collaborates and connects in ecosystems.

With Grupo Nacional Provincial (GNP), we are using our Workspace platform, formerly known as G-Suite, to develop a series of new procedures and practices so each of their 6,700 staff members can use Google Meet's premium video conferencing platform to hold meetings and stay connected. Finally, Grupo Herdez, as a consumer company, is using data to provide intelligence in decision-making for new products. The presentation of its products, including size, labeling and flavors, can be adapted through AI to meet the needs of its customers.

Q: What actions are being taken within Google Cloud to foster the growth of female in-house talent and recruitment?

A: This is an important matter for Google. Everything we do takes diversity, equality and inclusion into account. The International Labor Organization pointed out that inequalities in employment between women and men have been exacerbated by the pandemic and will persist in the future. We recently announced a program in Mexico called Grow with Google for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Through this program, which will last approximately three months, we hope to help train at least 200 women in these disciplines. We will prepare them to develop soft skills and cloud knowledge. Why do we think both are relevant?

Firstly, because closing the gender gap in the tech sector is a priority for us. In Mexico, only 19.5 percent of the engineers are women and we also know it exists a higher probability for them to struggle when it comes to talking about their own accomplishments, that is why this program has a specific approach to develop their soft skills, so when the time comes for them to write their resumes, go to a job interview or apply for a promotion, they can do it with confidence. Secondly, about cloud training. There’s a growing interest and need from all kinds of businesses and industries to add cloud solutions as a way to continue growing, transform their organizations and connect with their end-users. Right now demand is growing at higher rates than supply. This is an open door for engineers with cloud knowledge to get into this raising industry and we want local women to be an important part of it.

Q: What are Google Mexico’s growth expectations this year?

A: The growth rate of Google Cloud's business is pretty fantastic. We reported global sales growth of 54 percent in 2Q21 over 2Q20. What would it take to say it was a good year? Achieving complete customer satisfaction. For all the projects we have talked about and those we are developing, we have to make them happen. We must help companies in our country transform themselves and grow their business results with technology.

 

Google Cloud is a suit of cloud computing solutions supported by physical assets, such as computers and hard disk drives. It also incorporates the virtual resources from Google's data centers around the world.

Photo by:   Google Cloud
Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst