Can you keep your competitive advantages, Google?
Google, the internet grand star, we all know about its story and actually, its products like search engine service and Maps have already deeply penetrated into our daily life.
The company had a glorious first ten years, but how about the future? Can it maintain its competitive advantages like page ranking, accurate searching result while new players trying to grab market shares, some of the competitors are heavyweight, for example, Microsoft?
I believe that Google, in the foreseeable future, can keep its rival advantages. Since the root of the corporation’s superiority is “behind the surface”, they are long-term vision, innovative culture, extremely outstanding backstage system, compatibility and comprehensive cooperation network. None of these is easily to be copied or surpassed.
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said ‘it would take 300 years to achieve the mission of organizing the world’s information (including Web pages, music, books, radio, TV and paints)’. Have Google’s competitors the same passion, to establish a library with Google’s comprehensiveness? I really doubt it. On the other hand, this long-long-long-term mission is the solid base of Google’s open and innovative culture.
Innovative culture is the second layer of Google’s competence, as well as the engine which drives Google’s operation. In Google, engineers are required to spend 20% working time in innovative projects, they change projects every 3 months, and they are encouraged to provide their creative ideas anytime, for any projects. The famous free lunch (a policy since Google’s was still a small entity) now became the occasion for engineers in different groups to exchange ideas. The culture is the source of Google’s inspiration, from where a series of brilliant services like GMAIL, Google Maps, AdWords and Adsense were created.
The third story is Google’s backstage system. Base on the prime talented Web searching software, and driven by the innovation-priority culture, Google has built the most cost efficient system comparing to its opponents. Google uses “commodity servers and using them to their fullest, to the point where they’re almost so damn hot they’ll melt.” As regards the software side, Google prefers open-source software, “that’s one more way we can control our destiny”. Google has built its own CRM system, created its own Web server instead of the 60% market share gainer Apache. The company knows what is happening outside, while its adversaries don’t know Google’s internal core secrets. That’s why everyone in the category knows what Google is doing, but no one could catch its step.
Supported by the innovative culture and the particular backstage system, Google is able to develop and launch its products with and better compatibility and higher speed. Google users could easily use these products for free, for example, a Web site administer could add a few rows of XML to the pages therefore enjoy Google Statistics service to realise from where the visitors come and how often them browse the site; a tourist or hotel Web site could integrate Google Maps to explain the route; a personal blog could add Adwords service to reward the author himself for writing great articles.
In brief, all products that Google provides are based on the three solid levels underwater; therefore Google could continuously develop new services, which are open and could be widely applied. Let’s go back to the enterprise’s Innovation Ecosystem – Google’s products construct a platform to support the operation of individual Web sites (consumers, innovators, content providers or advertisers), and these sites provide information and revenue to Google simultaneously. Threaten the leading position of the “best work for” Internet giant? It would only be harder.
2. “Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine”, Bala Lyer & Thomas H. Davenport, Harvard Business Review, April 2008.
4. “Google Revealed : The IT Strategy That Makes It Work”, Thomas Claburn, Information Week, August 2006.
5. Ex-CIO of Google talks about innovation (Video)