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BW Businessworld

A Big Stepping Stone

Recently, Google India launched ‘Digital Unlocked’, a training programme to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) go digital

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Someone has rightly said: Google is competing with God. It shows us real-time traffic updates, guides us as we drive along the unknown roads — things that were unthinkable at one point. Today, Google is the answer to all our questions. And that’s no exaggeration. We “Google” to find solutions to almost all our queries. It has risen above and beyond a company to be an integral part of everyone’s life. The success of Google globally is primarily dependent on its large user base, and with 1.2 billion people in India, the country is surely a very important market for the Internet giant. Besides, with India-born CEO Sundar Pichai at the helm, the focus on India is only inevitable.    

Recently, Google India launched  ‘Digital Unlocked’, a training programme to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) go digital. Through this initiative, Google is targeting to bring 41 million SMBs in India under its umbrella. Its other latest initiative ‘SMB Heroes’, is a nation-wide programme designed to recognise SMBs that have embraced digital to grow their business.

Last year, Google took several measures to strengthen its presence in the Indian market. Last September, it announced plans to launch a website called Bharat Saves to offer information — aligned with the government’s financial-inclusion scheme Jan Dhan Yojana — on financial planning to the Indian audience. It also introduced five new products — including YouTube Go, Google Assistant in Hindi for Allo, faster browsing for Google Play on 2G connections, Google Station WiFi and new data-saving features in Chrome for mobile — to improve access to the Internet for Indian users.

Rajan Anandan, vice-president of Google Southeast Asia and India, had previously announced plans to set up a ‘cloud region’ for India. According to Gartner, by 2019 the market for cloud computing in India will be worth $1.9 billion; currently, the market stands at only $700 million. Recently, he announced plans to train 2 million mobile developers on Android, to make India a global hub for innovation. In April this year, Google also launched its ‘Solve for India’ programme to empower developers from tier-2 cities.

With every local step, Google is penetrating deeper into India. Its creation of the platform that translates Indian languages is a good example. The programme, called Tap to Translate, provides real-time translation of an Indian language as you type and works across all applications on Android devices. It also offers voice recognition for areas with 2G network.    

In a historic move, in July this year, Google acquired Bengaluru-based startup Halli Labs for an undisclosed amount; its first acquisition in India. Started in April 2017 and still in stealth mode, Halli Labs was working on artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies. The acquisition is seen as an attempt by Google to strengthen its AI portfolio. Technology companies are increasingly acquiring AI-based skills and talent driven by the large datasets generated every day from all the online activities. The AI market today stands at $8 billion and is estimated to grow as high as $47 billion by 2020, according to market intelligence research firm IDC.