Google Cloud: Data & AI is key to unlocking the potential of organisations in 2023
As organisations generate more and more data, they are increasingly looking for ways to make sense of it all. An interconnected data and AI strategy can help businesses to unify their data sources and make it easier to analyse.
Google Cloud executives discussed these trends at the ITWeb Cloud and Data Centre Summit held on 31 October 2023 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg.
The company has identified several trends that represent an interconnected data strategy, the first being the shift from data silos to a unified data cloud. Organisations face a significant challenge in ensuring that the right people have access to the right data at the right time, particularly because data often resides in different areas of the business and on disparate systems.
The same research predicts that by 2025, at least 90% of new enterprise application releases will include embedded AI functionality.
At the summit, Google Cloud emphasised the substantial surge of interest in AI this year, recognising it as a significant global trend.
AI: a profound technology
Google Cloud further recommended that any project must have data at its core. It highlighted the importance of an open, standards-based approach, multicloud, and the value of an established partner ecosystem.
The company’s partner ecosystem is constantly expanding to meet the unique needs of customers, with deep solution-level expertise, specialised skills, enhanced training, and certification.
Google Cloud stated that the age of the open data system, embracing the AI tipping point, infusing insights everywhere, and getting to know your unknown data are all notable trends.
Given the digital demand on the continent, the company has established an AI research centre in Ghana back in 2018. Since its launch, the team at the Accra-based Research Centre has engaged in significant AI work, including mapping Africa’s built environment using satellite imagery and machine learning, which allowed to quadruple the number of African buildings on Google Maps, bringing the number up to over 250-million.
Google Cloud also reiterated the significance of the member-driven Data Cloud Alliance, which was established to solve enterprises’ modern data challenges and accelerate the path to value creation with data across all industries.
The Data Cloud Alliance is committed to accelerate adoption across industries through common industry data models, open standards, processes, and end-to-end integrated products and solutions. It is also committed to reduce challenges and complexity with data governance, data privacy, data loss prevention, and global compliance. Solving the skills gap through skills development for practitioners in modern data and analytics technologies is also a priority.
Delivering on the commitment to investment in Africa
In 2021, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced that Google would invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to support a range of initiatives, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation.
In line with this investment commitment, Google Cloud will soon be opening a new cloud region in South Africa – which will be their first cloud region in the African continent. South Africa will be joining Google Cloud’s global network of 39 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.
The future cloud region in South Africa will bring Google Cloud services closer to the local customers, enabling them to innovate and securely deliver faster, more reliable experiences to their own customers, helping to accelerate their growth. According to research by AlphaBeta Economics for Google Cloud, the South Africa cloud region will contribute more than a cumulative USD 2.1 billion to the country’s GDP, and will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.
Along with the cloud region, Google Cloud is also expanding their network through the Equiano subsea cable and through Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. In doing so, they are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa.