By Rahul Gupta
Google’s aim for another iteration of the world wide web is to make it accessible. In line with this, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of google, who spoke in New Delhi on the 4th of January, announced two new initiatives.
The giant speaks
What Pichai’s talk brought out was that businesses faced a lot of impediments while going online. These included lack of technical skills and awareness about what the medium could do for them. For the same, Google, in conjunction with FICCI, has announced the launch of “Digital Unlocked”- a set of online and classroom courses for teaching businesses how to harness the Internet and maximise reach, productivity and profit.
The second initiative – “My Business” – is a platform for enterprises to create websites optimised for cell phones by using only their mobiles. Pichai claims that the platform would allow businesses to organise their actions.
Moving forward the Google way
There was an emphasis on the need for small to medium enterprises to go digital. It should come as no surprise that, on a macro level, firms which go digital have larger profits, employ more people and sell at greater distances.
Referring to a report by KPMG, Google India claimed that if these businesses go online, they could make up around 40% of the economy. On a micro-business level, Google gave several pieces of advice on how going digital can help SMEs.
It would help in cutting the middlemen, providing real-time solutions to problems and scaling at an incredibly fast rate. Google urged that numerous firms which already use Google Maps and allied services are more productive. It claims that solutions which work in India can work around the world. YouTube Go, Google Assistant and the smartphone Pixel were first introduced and tested in India before shipping across Latin America, Africa and the rest of Asia.
A digital leap of faith
India’s attempt to go digital may be stymied by few things. First, is the low degree of broadband coverage and followed by language barriers. The inescapable unfortunate reality also states that women don’t have the same internet access that men have. The lack of broadband is further leap-frogged by a greater mobile internet presence. It is pushed through products like Reliance Jio which provide fast Internet at a reasonable speed.
In such an environment, it is worth noting that the gatekeepers of the Internet have a huge social responsibility to discharge. With a majority of small to medium-sized enterprises accessing the Internet via only one medium, the potential for anti-competitive behaviour increases. The European Commission already has filed three anti-trust complaints against Google. Claims by Internet companies say that whether they’ll be platform and content agnostic is presented to an extent. A reference can be made to Facebook’s proposed free basics service.
The future, without a doubt, is online and businesses need to enter the digital space to remain competitive and profitable. The current government, with its emphasis on “Digital India” and “Cashless India” recognises this.
Google presents a way for companies to go online and going online is exciting and significant. Its demonstrated commitment to open access can belie any misgivings. The onus now lies with the indigenous companies to use the space Google has created.