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Thriving in Uncertain Times, Plus Anthos and BigQuery Updates

This year’s Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir conference like many others, is taking place virtually; but it has become apparent, now more than ever, the critical and important role that digital transformation has on affected organizations worldwide.

The first ever digital-series will run for a total of five weeks, and while we may not be together in person, Next OnAir is the can’t-miss opportunity to hear from Google Cloud executives and their customers from across industries, connect with experts, and gain new insights about how to solve the tough business challenges we’re all facing. To ensure that you don’t miss out on any key announcements, we will be posting our weekly updates from select sessions presented at the conference.

During the virtual conference’s opening keynote, Google Cloud’s senior executives and clients introduced us to not only new technology, but to the new ways of growing businesses ― and some of them, especially in the EMEA region, were particularly fortunate, growing even in the toughest of times.

Why Do Some Businesses Thrive While Others “Put Innovation on Hold”? 

Despite these times of uncertainty, a lot of companies have been growing in the EMEA region. New research by McKinsey & Company provides some insight with the results of a survey of 800 executives from around the world. It found that 85% of companies accelerated digitisation and 67% accelerated automation and artificial intelligence (AI) during the pandemic.

So, how have these organisations managed to weather the storm while other businesses made a decision to press pause on innovation? Chris Ciauri, Google Cloud's President of EMEA, helped answer this question in two parts:

1. The Underlying Principle of Openness Is Crucial

Companies whose IT team built an open platform for agility can respond to change quicker, scale up or down with the needs of the business more cost-effectively and also deliver new services to customers faster.

In the new COVID-19 world, that means responding to new customer requests faster than ever and being immediately accommodating, which makes it easier for customers to choose a brand and stay loyal to it.

Back in 2000, Steve Krug published a book called Don't Make Me Think, and even back then (20+ years ago!), it emphasised that users of software and websites should be able to achieve what they want as efficiently as possible. It followed, then, that digitally savvy organisations who knew how to read their customers won their respective races.

2. The Use of Data Is King

Organisations that flourished during the pandemic focused on pulling intelligence from data, which, in turn, helped leaders make better business decisions. This ultimately meant automating and personalising products and services to create great experiences.

At Kin + Carta, we helped dunnhumby revolutionise the way it generated customer insights from data collected via mobile phones. Applying cutting-edge technologies, including Flutter, Firebase, Serverless Architecture (GCP) and Google Cloud Vision, Kin + Carta Create helped dunnhumby launch its new consumer-facing app HuYu within 12 weeks.

You can see a full list of our case studies here, including NatWest, Unilever and Marks & Spencer.

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Retail, Finance and Manufacturing: How Can You Continue Your Digital Transformation Journey?

As Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, emphasised In the opening keynote, “Google’s mission is to accelerate every organisation’s ability to digitally transform through data-powered innovation.”

To achieve that, Google Cloud offers three business-changing capabilities:

  1. Industry-specific digital transformation solutions
  2. Digital transformation platform
  3. Distributed Infrastructure as a service

To solve both IT and business challenges, we have partnered with Google Cloud on functional solutions like Contact Center AI (CCAI) and together have identified these key changes and transformation organisations can make in retail, manufacturing and financial services.

Industry #1: Retail

Addressing some of the most time-sensitive issues for a retail organisation:

  1. Expediting omnichannel commerce and securing digital and omnichannel revenue growth by driving its e-commerce presence
  2. Transforming customer experience by leveraging data for more targeted marketing and more accurate forecasting 
  3. Modernising core operations by making improvements in-store and online, as well as in the supply chain and distribution network (don’t forget the up-coming holiday season).

    Case studies: Tesco; Gordon Food Service; Marks & Spencer

Industry #2: Manufacturing 

Accelerating the time from innovation to impact by:

  1. Driving AI into manufacturing operations to improve and increase asset utilisation
  2. Shortening cycle times, read more: Changing the B2B customer experience in manufacturing

Industry #3: Financial Services

In the finance industry, digital transformation is more important than ever:

  1. Accelerating omnichannel banking by way of AI-driven virtual agents, personalised banking, or using CCAI to help transform customer response and documented intelligence solutions to speed up processes.
  2. Transform the data into intelligence with an analytics platform, segment customers and decide how to up-sell and cross-sell, use a platform for financial markets simulations and meet the regulatory requirements.
  3. Modernise the core tech operation mainframe optimisations by integrating payment platforms and using an API management solution to enable open banking.

    Case studies: Natwest; Yolt; Visa

Google financial services infographic

Anthos and BigQuery: Spotlight on Technological Advancements That Could Help You

We partner with Google Cloud on digital transformation solutions like smart analytics, AI and ML and data management, but with a focus on app modernisation in this instance, there have been some improvements to Anthos and BigQuery in particular.

What’s Changed With Anthos?

Anthos is a modern application management platform that provides a consistent development and operations experience for cloud and on-premise environments. It frees companies from vendor lock-in, combines with enterprise IT management across Google, AWS, Azure and on-premise and helps to release the software rapidly for faster time-to-market. It provides all this while allowing the same consistent environment, the same superior security systems and the same centralised management platform that facilitates efficient scaling up and scaling down.

During the virtual conference, a bare metal version of Anthos was introduced. This is a deployment option to operate on physical servers on your own operating system without a hypervisor layer. It comes with lifecycle management, built-in networking, health checks, diagnostics, logging and monitoring and allows you to utilise your standard hardware and operating system images. Existing investments are checked and validated against Anthos infrastructure requirements as standard, too.

Anthos is also coming to mobile edge cloud, which means that, from a global control plane, companies can locate clusters to which they can deploy workloads, either on GCP, AWS or Azure, without changing a single line of code.

Ultimately, Anthos can now help you reduce cost and complexity, run closer to the hardware for improved performance and unlock new use cases for edge computing.

What’s New With BigQuery?

T. K. announced that BigQuery can now run and analyse data from Azure and Amazon without having to relocate to Google Cloud, which allows companies to leverage the power of BigQuery analytics according to the location of their datasets. This is how Google is showing its commitment to open multi-cloud.

Looker is now also amalgamated as a foundational component of Google’s analytics portfolio. This means that companies can take any data source on Google Cloud or any other cloud, have a consistent set of data definitions and expose these different data sources through a data API. Additionally, organisations can do dashboarding, build operation workflow and integrate data-driven applications into their business.

BigQuery is a serverless, highly scalable and cost-effective multi-cloud data warehouse that is designed for business agility, so, thanks in part to these new features, it helps companies find new insights and trends to make predictions that can improve overall operational efficiency.

BigQuery Omni: Underpinning BigQuery and Anthos and Saving Businesses Cross-Cloud Movement Costs

Finally, theres one new feature underpinning both technologies here: BigQuery Omni.

This multi-cloud analytics solution is powered by Anthos, which helps extend Google Cloud’s analytics platform to other public clouds (80% of public cloud users were active with at least one other cloud service provider, according to a recent Gartner survey).

With data scattered across multiple public clouds, BigQuery Omni leverages the best analytics and data warehouse technology to combine them, which means that companies no longer have to store all their data on Google Cloud.

The feature will not require any movement or copying of data from one public cloud to another (or the payment of the excess costs that come with that). BigQuery’s interface allows the user to query the data stored in Google Cloud, AWS and Azure without any unnecessary cross-cloud transfers, whilst the Anthos hybrid and multi-cloud application platform lets businesses build, deploy and manage the BigQuery engine (Dremel) on multiple clouds.

Preparing For a Post-Pandemic Customer Experience

In times of crisis, it is difficult to flourish and grow, but no organization has to take the challenging journey alone. With the extraordinary market issues created by COVID-19, adapting is crucial. Whatever your end goal looks like in your digital transformation journey, it starts with taking action. By combining word-leading Google Cloud technology and global Kin + Carta solutions, we can help you emerge from the pandemic stronger than before with a more robust strategy for improving your customer experience.

If you are interested in seeing how Kin + Carta can help you during your digital transformation journey with Google Cloud, please reach out to Silvija Pacheleva, Partner Development Manager, dedicated to Kin + Carta’s Google Cloud EMEA partnership.

If you would like to virtually attend the opening keynote from Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir, you can find the presentation on-demand here.

Please feel free to reach out to our Kin + Carta Google partnerships team for more information

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