Google Cloud Next UK: Google Touts Vodafone, John Lewis Deals

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Google kicks off its largest Google Cloud event in Europe touting contracts with Vodafone, as well as the John Lewis Partnership

In the first day of Google’s largest cloud event in Europe, the search engine giant has revealed a couple of significant customer contracts, and touted its commitment to European businesses and data protection.

At the Google Cloud Next UK event being held at ExCel in London on Wednesday, Thursday, Google revealed that Vodafone has partnered with Google Cloud.

Other developments see the Google Cloud also helping the John Lewis Partnership in its digital transformation efforts, as well as the Google Cloud offering more security tools, and an option to help app developers modernise their products (see other article).

Google Cloud: Vodafone

Vodafone has opted to use the Google Cloud as part of its ‘Digital Vodafone’ transformation program.

Essentially, the British operator is working with Google Cloud to build a global big data platform spanning the markets it operates in. The idea is that Vodafone will be able to utilise Google Cloud for real-time analytics from the huge amounts of data it generates.

This will in turn allow Vodafone to create new products and services based on deeper customer insight, and offer for example more personalised support for customers.

At the moment, Vodafone’s existing on-premises group data platform is a shared service consisting of eight clusters with more than 600 servers and is used in 11 countries. Unfortunately the platform relies on legacy Hadoop architecture, that apparently lacks the agility or scalability to support demands for analytics and other projects.

So Vodafone is seeking to perform a large-scale migration of its global data into Google Cloud’s secure public cloud. It will also create a custom platform for data performance that lets disparate data from across the organisation be aggregated into one ‘data ocean’. This will allow for indpeth analytics processes.

And Vodafone has integrated Google Cloud tools into its custom ‘Neuron’ platform, which is built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Vodafone says that the insights from Neuron are being used to support a range of applications, centred around AI and business intelligence for all of Vodafone globally.

For example, Vodafone’s ‘Gigabit Networks’ are increasingly optimised by AI to push capacity to where customers need it most; and real-time analytics enable Vodafone to push personalised commercial offers to customers – such as a data top-up – when they are most likely to buy.

“Neuron serves as the foundation for Vodafone’s data ocean and the brains of our business as we transform ourselves into a digital tech company,” explained Simon Harris, group head of Big Data Delivery at Vodafone.

“Not only will we be able to gain real-time analytics capabilities across Vodafone products and services, it will also allow us to arrive at insights faster, which can then be used to offer more personalized product offerings to customers and to raise the bar on service,” said Harris.

Google Cloud: John Lewis Partnership

Another development sees the John Lewis Partnership, which includes the John Lewis & Partners department stores and Waitrose & Partners shops, increasingly using utilise the Google Cloud to offer new services in the retail sector.

The partnership currently uses productivity solutions from G Suite, and this year it also began using Google+ for internal staff communications.

The partnership has also created a centralised data platform with Google Cloud to break down data silos across the organisation, providing the foundation for a more centeralised approach to customer insights and service.

And now the John Lewis Partnership is using the Google Cloud to assist in its e-commerce transformation. This is hugely important for the partnership, as shopping (both weekly supermarket shops and household purchases) increasingly move online.

The idea is partnership wants to provide a better overall web experience for customers.

John Lewis & Partners is also building a data management platform on Google Cloud to automate decision-making and facilitate access to data across a much broader range of products. This includes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) projects, to help the partnership arrive at more accurate customer insights.

“Innovation is in our DNA. Our enduring strength is built on our uncompromising focus on the customer, for which we need a dynamic way of meeting changing expectations,” explained Andrew MacInnes, CTO of the John Lewis Partnership. “We believe that the benefits of AI and ML have the ability to transform our business.”

“Building this capability from the ground up would have been impossible for us, and this is why we needed Google Cloud as a partner,” said MacInnes. “Google is helping us to continue innovating around the customer experience, enabled by the cloud.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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