How Does Google Innovate?

 
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Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin whilst they were phd students at Stanford University, Google (now officially known as alphabet) has experienced relentless and exponential growth. Starting off primarily as a search engine business they now offer an eclectic array of physical products and services, from their android operating system, Daydream virtual reality headset and Waymo - their self-driving car project. 

 
Image Credit:vr.google.com/daydream

Image Credit:vr.google.com/daydream

 

Google is certainly a colossal enterprise, employing over 70 000 people around the world and grossing just under ninety billion dollars in revenue. Despite its size, Google manages to sustain a dynamic and consistently successful approach to growth and innovation by employing the following methods:  

Acquiring the competition

Google systematically acquires early stage startups - most notably YouTube and uses GV - its venture capital arm to invest in elite companies such as DeepMind to expand its portfolio in software, hardware, life-sciences and artificial intelligence.

These high-performance teams are then absorbed into Google's own ecosystem as it builds a portfolio of super startups.

 
 
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Attracting the best academics

Google has invested millions of pounds in cultivating relationships with the scholastic world and has numerous research programs where top scientists and academics are offered study placements. Once they have experienced such unprecedented access to data sets and computer engineering they often never leave. 

This enables Google to develop a robust team of experts who assimilate into its network and pioneer a vast range of research projects.

Data and Analytics

With a mantra of "data usually beats opinions" it is no surprise that everything is digitally captured, measured and stored to forecast trends and make predictions. In adopting this data-driven approach and using key metrics employees need not rely on intuition alone but can verify their decisions using advanced analytics. 

In utilising data employees can get closer to the customer and create products and services that accurately fit consumer needs. 

A culture of sharing

This is perhaps the best example of how despite its size, Google innovates like a startup. Each week both founders Larry and Sergey host an hour-long TGIF meeting which every employee can tune into. Leaders from each business function including People Operations, Marketing and Finance present on key developments and engineering teams demonstrate new product launches. Business is combined with fun as teams enjoy food, drinks and even music before the meeting to really set the tone. 

This platform cultivates a transparency of communication that permeates throughout the company and engages the various functional departments. Such a consistent way to end the week ensures that employees leave feel empowered and allows communication and ideas to flow unimpeded. 

 
Daniel Camara