Google Cloud Next 2020 – ASEAN Impact – Part 2: Powering SMBs in the Post COVID-19 Era

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

• Google Cloud could position G-Suite and its retail solution to help ASEAN SMBs during the pandemic.

• Google should include key local players in its partner ecosystem to extend its market reach in the region.

Google Cloud made several announcements at the recent Google Cloud Next 2020 OnAir and shared its expansion plan of partner ecosystem and professional service capabilities. The first part of this report: Google Cloud Next 2020 – ASEAN Impact – Part 1: Driving Multi-cloud Adoption in the Region analyzes Google Cloud’s proposition in multi-cloud in ASEAN. This post discusses the opportunity in SMBs and recommendations for Google Cloud and end-users in the region.

Impact of COVID-19 on ASEAN SMB

Domestically, SMB represents a large amount of market opportunity driven by over 90% of total establishments in a country. The buying behavior is different than large enterprises and MNC. The low ICT adoption and lack of internal ICT capabilities translate to higher opportunities for managed service providers. However, market growth is expected to be slower post COVID-19 as many SMBs are significantly impacted by the pandemic. SMBs, especially the small and micro enterprises, have had to squeeze their budgets across all functions including ICT to sustain their business during and post lockdown. Digital transformation is becoming less important, and the main priorities have shifted to adapting to new customers’ buying bmehavior such as e-commerce and cashless payment (e.g., mobile wallet). The economy and low power purchasing in ASEAN are also pushing them to be even more cost-sensitive with ICT purchasing. All discretionary spending is expected to be put on hold.

Google G-Suite and Retail Solution

While the product features and pricing for G-Suite and its rival (Microsoft Office) are comparable, Google could highlight the added values of its solution such as unlimited storage as a cost-saving tool for SMBs as well as locally hosted data for Indonesian businesses (through its newly launched data centers in Jakarta). Google’s productivity tools also differentiate in the ease-of-use of the applications especially on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It also offers seamless collaboration tools for its users (e.g., file storage, sharing and editing). This could address the increasing need for remote working during and post COVID-19. While G-Suite has been around for some time, the new updates could further attract enterprises to adopt the tools. Premium Meet which was recently made available to all G-Suite users can address the increasing video conferencing demand. Google has added various features in Meet to catch up with competitions such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom. The security controls and enterprise-grade security and reliability address growing cyber-threat concerns, especially when accessing business applications/documents from public networks. The enhanced integration across Google productivity tools (e.g., email, chat, conferencing, storage and documents) offers users a better overall experience. The integration with Microsoft applications enables users to work across applications seamlessly and could drive migration from other platforms. Google could also highlight analytics capabilities in G-Suite to further differentiate against competitors.

Apart from G-Suite / productivity tools, Google could also position its retail and e-commerce solutions to enable ASEAN SMBs to transform their businesses from offline to online. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer buying behavior from offline to online. However, most small/micro retailers still fully rely on physical stores without any e-commerce capabilities. Google Cloud could highlight its capabilities with customer references such as during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While the competition in e-commerce solutions is intense (e.g., from Alibaba Cloud and Amazon Marketplace), the provider could leverage its analytics and web advertisement to gain an edge in the market.

What’s Next

Google Cloud is gaining a traction in the region with a long list of customer references including key enterprises such as AirAsia (Malaysia), Bank BRI, GoJek (Indonesia), Globe Telecom (the Philippines), Ananda Development (Thailand) and Tiki (Vietnam). While it has the solutions and capabilities to address ASEAN enterprises’ needs, there is still a gap in its partner ecosystem. Google Cloud partners with most global integrators and is aggressively expanding its ecosystem. However, some key local players are still missing from the list. The market landscape is diverse in ASEAN. There are different providers across verticals, business sizes, and geographical areas. Most ASEAN enterprises prefer to partner with local providers due to their local support and understanding of national regulations. Google could consider expanding its ecosystem partner not just by the number of partners, but also to include key local players to extend its market reach in a country. Google could also explore partnerships with local data center providers to offer locally hosted public cloud through Anthos. This could accelerate its in-country expansion and minimize the need to open new facilities.

It is also important for Google Cloud to extend its partnership with the telcos beyond interconnect and sell-to engagement. Telcos are one of the main cloud providers and key digital transformation partners in a country. A strong collaboration with the telcos in product development and marketings is crucial for Google to expand its presence. This could include selling-through and selling-with for solutions such as cloud, networking (e.g., leveraging its partnership with Cisco in SD-WAN integration), IoT, and UC.

For users, while there are still gaps between Google Cloud and other hyperscalers such as in value-added services, the provider has launched various initiatives to catch up with competitors. Google Cloud also differentiates in the market with its analytics capabilities, open-platform that supports orchestration with other cloud providers, and productivity. For example, its multi-cloud analytics solution, BigQuery Omni, offers a single pane of glass experience for data across different formats and environments including from other cloud providers such as AWS. This is important for users with cloud deployments from multiple providers looking for deep workload orchestration across the environments.

 


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