At its Google I/O developers conference a few weeks ago, Google made numerous announcements about its ever-expanding portfolio of products and services. In the dizzying list of new initiatives was an interesting thread: The search giant is changing the way it views and uses the huge amount of data it collects.
Data, of course, is at the heart of the search business. But the way Google is continuing to leverage that data to help its users is worth understanding.
In an interview with Computerworld magazine, Brian Stevens, VP of Cloud Platforms at Google, spelled out the shift the company is undertaking. “It’s not about doing exactly the same thing you’ve been doing,” Stevens is quoted as saying. “It’s about doing things in a new cloud way.”
For Google, the push to put more of everyone’s business in the cloud isn’t just a matter of trying to simplify or streamline the storage and access. Instead, it’s about trying to enable entirely new services and a new mindset about what can be done with all the data it is gathering.
“It comes down to data analytics,” Stevens told Computerworld. “Companies need to better understand their users. What do they want? What do they like? Once a company knows that, they can build campaigns around that.”
Google hopes that analytics will help set it apart from other competitors in the cloud. And the company is making a push to expand the sources that collect data. It’s continuing to enhance Android Wear for smartwatches and other wearables. And then there’s Android Auto for connected cars.
But while new devices and services expand data points, perhaps the most interesting and elegant product for consumers is Google Now, because it taps into all that back-end data. If you’re not familiar with it, Google Now is the company’s mobile service that pulls together information from the Google services you use and automatically reminds you of things like appointments, where you parked your car, or when you need to leave for the airport to catch a flight.
At Google I/O, the company announced an evolution to Google Now called ‘Now on Tap’. As The Verge reported from the event, Aparna Chennapragada, Google Now’s product director, explained that the service will bring much more information to users based on location because it “understands” over 100 million places, such as knowing all the businesses in the area.
And it knows more than just the address and name of business.
“When are they busy, when are they open, and what are you likely to need when you’re there?” Chennapragada told The Verge. “We want to proactively bring you answers.”
As Google puts it, moving to the cloud and leaning on this data isn’t just a way to save money. It’s a way to help people make decisions, answer questions they don’t even know they have yet and give them helpful information without their even requesting it.
The result is this consumers can experience a different relationship to all this information and their surroundings. For businesses, it lets them explore new models and doing things that let them change the way they do business.
And this is the point at which customers may really begin to appreciate the potential revolutionary power of Big Data.
Image credit: Machine Happy