Google Next 2019 – observations from the Mango viewing deck

April 30, 2019

(This article was first published on RBlog – Mango Solutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The first thing that hit me about this year’s Google Next was the scale. Thousands of people wandering around Moscone Centre in San Fran with their name badges proudly displayed really brought home that this is a platform of which its users are proud. I was told by several people that the size of the conference has doubled in size year on year, which, given there were 35,000 people at this year’s event, may well prove a logistical nightmare next year.

I was really struck by the massive enthusiasm of the Google team, the way in which the company’s leadership is aware of Google’s market position and how they seem to be keen to take pragmatic and strategic decisions based on where they are, versus where they might like to be. The opening up to other cloud platforms via the Anthos announcement seems a good way for Google to position itself as the honest broker in the field – they have identified legacy apps and codebases as difficult to turnover, something which I think many organisations will feel comfortable.

There were rafts of customer testimonials and whilst many of them did not seem to contain much in the way of ROI details, the mere fact that Google could call these C-level Fortune 500 companies onto the stage speaks towards a clarity of intent and purpose.

The nature of many of these types of events is one that is fairly broad, and considering that Mango is a relatively niche player, it is sometimes difficult to find the areas and talks that may resonate with our posture. That was true of these sessions., but not entirely surprising.  The widescale abuse of terms like AI and Machine Learning carries on apace, and we at Mango need to find ways to gently persuade people that when they think of AI, they’re actually meaning Machine Learning, and when they talk about Machine Learning they might well be talking about, well, models. The current push in the industry is to be able to add these complex components at a click of a button, by an untrained analyst who can then roll it into production without proper validation or testing. These are dangerous situations and reminded me of the importance of doing some of the hard yards first i.e creating an analytic culture and community to ensure that the “right” analytics are used with the “right” data. It’s clear however that the opening up of cloud platforms is creating an arena in which advanced analytics will play a crucial role, and presents massive opportunities for Mango in working with Google and our customers.

We’ve loved being back in San Francisco and its always lovely to be around passionate and energetic advocates. Hopefully London Next later in the year will be equally energetic and fun.

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