PICNIC 08 – What will Google do?

On: September 26, 2008
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About Maria Perevalova
I graduated from Moscow State Linguistic University, interpreter department with specialization in Theory and History of Culture. I have working experience in informational and advertising agencies. Present time I am a student at University of Amsterdam, New Media MA programme


On the last day of Picnic 2008, on Friday at Zuiveringshal West Gisel Hiscock, the Google’s EMEA business development director appeared with the company’s newest initiatives and strategies. She works for Google for 5 years. She spoke on how Google innovates, what applications Google offers and plans to offer, about the principles of  work and creation.

Gisel Hiscock outlined company’s scheme of acting opposing the traditional approach –the so called “the mother ship model”. Within this concept a headquarter builds products and when the company grows and goes international they outsource the low-cost work and starts translating and shipping out internationally.
“This is not going to work for us”, states Gisel Hiscock.
She adduces several reasons for why Google opts for a different model.

To innovate globally and build useful things it is necessary to have diverse work and diverse ideas which come from around the globe and not from one place. So Google builds engineering centers around the world, the last year Google opened 26 new centers, 12 of them in Europe in different countries, for instance, in Zurich, where over 40 different nationalities are working.

Another reason against “the mother ship model” is the fact that people are different. People have different languages, people use internet and technologies differently. Google’s engineers have been developing around the world and innovating collaboratively to get to people a lot of access to information.

Now Google faces the challenge  how to stay innovative in this sometimes confusing and chaotic environment. They masterminded some principles to meet it. First of all they believe that it is important to start with a very clear mission. Gisel Hiscock addressed that mission as to build best services to provide the world with open and acceptable information, to democratize the information. To make it available everywhere and anytime whatever device you use.  Speaking about devices, it seems like Google prepares a great future for mobile internet. According to the statistics there are 3.3 billion mobile phones in the world and a billion of personal computers. Internet is predicted to be used much more on mobile than on PC, especially in such regions as Africa.

Along with stating the mission Gisel Hiscock suggests to go out with a clear statement of what Google doesn’t do.
First of all Google’s position is not to be a traditional and conventional company. They don’t do traditional product management, don’t think small and short-term. All information and vision must be shared across all teams, users come first, don’t money – these are some of the principle with which Google came out with at Picnic 2008.

Google’s HR politics has a bit untraditional approach as well, it is not about degrees and grades you have, but the passion you show. They believe that people who passionate will innovate and bring change to the world. So does for example an engineer from Pennsylvania who is very interested in astronomy and who came out with an idea after Google earth appeared to create Google sky. So now we have our own planetarium in our computer.

The collaborative approach is very strong in Google’s politics. They do believe that everyone can contribute, bring innovation and ideas of different level. Engineers at Google have open database of who and on what is working now in the world, it is a culture  of openness where they share information and have access to all kind of information. They post objectives online, so everybody knows each others plans for let’s say, the next 3 months.

Another thing to consider is to allow ideas to change, as it might be not the right time for the product now, it will probably be popular in future whenever the demand is there or technology allows to build it. So they have Google lab, the area of products, where they receive feedback from users and customers. As an example we can see G-mail, the product which is constantly changing and updating, new features are being added taking into account the people feedback and need.

A great number of Google’s products was built on the real people’s need. I haven’t yet seen and used Google’s translator built for I-phone, but it is what I needed sometimes when I hear an unknown word I wanted to know in real time its meaning and was looking for this application for my smartphone.  It was created by a Google engineer when he faced the same real need being out his native London in Italy. The idea is that users come first the rest they believe will come later. If you build a great product, monetization, advertising will come later, it is more important to focus on user, what information he needs, what he wants to do online, how he can get more information.

The most exciting and prospective project that Google now have is Android software system with T-mobile’s the first wireless G-phone. It is an open platform, software for mobile, that can be changed by users depending on what they want or need.
Of course, it is an extremely fertile soil for Google people to show their creativity. One of the project they already have is the possibility whilst you shopping to use your mobile camera to picture the barcode of the product and receive online the complete product information.

The era of mobile internet is coming and Google is ready to provide us with applications that will meet our every single need.


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