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article imageWhat do Google’s I/O 2017 announcements mean for SMBs?

By Jack Derricourt     May 23, 2017 in Business
Google showed at this year’s I/O conference that it has a radical vision of the future. Smartphones and search engines were the last thing on CEO Sundar Pichai’s mind as he gave his keynote speech.
The kinds of innovations that Google showed off at this year’s I/O are the stuff that dreams are made of — except that these are initiatives being undertaken right now, realities just coming to fruition. Businesses seeking to push ahead with the move to digital, or enterprises wanting to know which direction the wind is blowing in, would be smart to keep an eye on these new shifts in technology.
A number of Google’s I/O announcements show business owners and innovators where technology is going — useful information when thinking about not just where digital transformation is right now, but where it’s headed within ten years.
While some have criticized this year’s I/O for its lack of moonshots there were a number of important steps forward announced by Google. Not every conference can be skydivers jumping out of planes with Google Glass strapped to their heads. And while not as sexy to show off, big changes are happening — especially in AI assistants, virtual reality and augmented reality.
So what changes were discussed at I/O and how do they apply to small and medium sized businesses?
Google Lens
One of the biggest innovations announced at I/O was Google Lens. A part of Google Assistant, Lens adopts the company’s Vision API in order to identify the contents of an image. Sundar Pichai broke it down into pretty simple terms at I/O:
“Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take actions based on that information.”
Apart from the most sensational application of this new tech — providing customers with a picture of your WiFi login info so they can snap a photo of it to log in automatically — businesses could see great benefits from adapting to a new world of information-rich images and machine learning-based marketing.
The amount of data businesses are allowed to provide to customers through Lens will determine just how useful the technology will be, but there’s a lot of potential here.
Machine Learning
Almost every big announcement Google made was in large part due to advancements in machine learning.
The biggest gains for businesses approaching AI and machine learning has to be understanding and streamlining the customer’s journey during their entire experience with the product, website, etc. But Google also presented another interesting angle to machine learning at I/O.
Google for Jobs intends to better match job applicants with appropriate positions. This could take some of the headache out of searching for a new employee. The job filling process is daunting and filled with hiccups. Adding some machine learning efficiency to the process could speed things up substantially.
Augmented Reality
The most impressive demo at this year’s I/O was definitely Tango, the mobile AR app that Google has spent years developing.
With the app, Google demonstrated how AR objects can be anchored in real space. A globe was presented in the middle of a classroom, observable to anyone.
While education is obviously going to benefit from AR tech like Tango, there are other forms of business that are likely to benefit from the use of AR apps. Retail is already making a big show of AR, allowing consumers to test out their products without being in the physical store space. FAQ information or operation manuals could soon be provided to consumers or potential clients in an entirely interactive, attractive format.
It’s not a big jump from those examples to customers accessing food menus with representative AR images for each menu item, or looking at examples of previous work by different service providers through the medium of AR. An augmented reality resume could do a lot to grab the attention of digitally savvy customers.
Now, Tango remains a ways off for the world beyond developers and their gleeful dreams, but it looks like we’re moving quickly towards a watershed moment for AR technology. The potential for businesses once the technology becomes scalable is immense.
While many businesses know the time is now to make the shift to digital, it’s important to be familiar with the changing trends in technology. Google I/O 2017 provided a solid indication of where things are headed.
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