Tony Safoian [00:00:11] Hello, welcome to a very unique episode of Cloud N Clear. Today, we’re going to cover everything having to do with telecom, media, entertainment and gaming in the world of Google Cloud and in general. And for that, I could not have two more appropriate guests with me today. First, my very good friend from Google, Catherine Abdallah, and she runs a partner sales organization for this very specific vertical within Google Cloud. And also we have our own leader for telco, media, entertainment, Andy Wright. Welcome to you both.
Both [00:00:48] Thank you, Tony.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:00:48] Thanks for having us.
Tony Safoian [00:00:50] No, you know, I love when we do these three way conversations on Cloud N Clear because it’s actually a great way to engage. It becomes very compelling. People’s thoughts all go out on the table. It’s also very appropriate because we work together as a team every day. So this is sort of a behind the scenes view of what we talk about as we plan go to market, as we engage with customers, engage with the Google field. First Catherine, you and I met it was years and years ago, and I think it was in Austin, and you had a long, illustrious career and also a long time at Google in various roles. And I think what the audience really enjoys when we do these is when our guests talk about their journey. So let’s spend a little time on that, because I think just even as long as I’ve known you, I’ve found, you know, your trajectory just super exciting to follow.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:01:49] Thank you so much, Tony. And I want to first start by saying thank you for having me here. While my journey at Google is nine years old, my journey on Google Cloud has been four years old and throughout that entire journey, SADA has been with me. So I feel like we’ve grown up together, or at least I’ve grown up in a SADA and Google Cloud world, which is such a great thing to be able to say. Yes, I’ve been at Google since 2012. I started out in our Dubai office and since then it’s been three offices. I work for Google Ads, and Google Cloud and I had a stint at YouTube. So it’s been a very exciting journey. When I started out in Dubai, we were 12 Google rs in this tiny office covering 18 markets and we showed up every day. And we have to be scrappy. We have to evangelize how to get the region to be thinking digital first, online first in terms of an advertising strategy. And it was such exciting work. And when I moved to New York in 2014, I got to work on one of our biggest advertiser campaigns or advertisers at Google in terms of their strategy. I worked with them for three years and it was such an exciting year first, because when you go from emerging markets to working on that curve of maturity with clients that want not only what’s cutting edge, but bleeding edge, that’s such a great way to see how Google operates as well. And that client is really who took me to to my cloud journey because they kept asking me if I could, you know, the CMO would ask me, Catherine, if I could just look back for the last six years and and figure out which was the most successful marketing campaign I ran or how do I invest my future dollars based on trends, how do I know all these things? And the reality is that a lot of organizations still solve these things very manually. Enter Google Cloud and and I think in 2017 we had our brand was just starting to emerge so strong in terms of our machine learning, artificial intelligence. We were really taking the market by storm back then. And so I just wanted to be a part of that. And coming full circle, I came to a team that was being scrappy, very similar to my Dubai team, where we were trying to do things that were just growing bigger and faster than us. And looking back four years later, oh, how we’ve grown and all the resources we have today, there were a lot we had a really long wish list back in 2017. And now a lot of that has come to fruition. And I remember a lot of the things we used to work on together were just the things we approached, every problem, like it was the most important problem. And I think that that’s how we poured our heart and soul into figuring things out that are just things we don’t have to think about today because we spent so much time and energy and investment just removing obstacles along the way. So that’s me in a nutshell. This is my journey with Google.
Tony Safoian [00:04:41] Now that you go down memory lane and talk about all the different seats and the different geographies and roles, I can see how that’s probably more applicable than ever in terms of how Google Cloud goes to market and building relationships, especially in the top customers in the in the verticals team that that you you cover today. Like just that as experience and the YouTube experience, it becomes like a a basis of expertise, that they probably really appreciate, because I think more and more we see those types of conversations superseding anything we’re talking about as far as points, technical solutions when we’re engaging with customers that are in your book of business.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:05:26] Absolutely, and that’s what clients want and that’s what we want to bring to them, that one Google, that approach everything we can do across our lines of business, from YouTube to ads and GMP and stadia and Android, I think there is also this great symbiotic relationship between the different Google business units or Alphabet business units. If we think about the first time, the term cloud computing in general in the industry was coined by Eric Schmidt, it was at a Google search ads conference. And he was he was looking to the future and he was thinking about something that wasn’t really tangible back then. I think it was 2009, if I’m not mistaken. And just to see, you know, how the the you know, the idea of how do we support over a billion active users every single day or monthly active users across YouTube, Android, ads and just trying to figure out how to stand up that type of customer base. That’s really the heart and soul of Google Cloud. And just thinking about how products like Anthos mirror our open source roots. And, you know, the history of Android, it all really comes full circle within Google. So having had the opportunity to spend time in different business units, talking to emerging clients and emerging businesses and in emerging markets and mature clients and really seeing that Google journey come full circle, I have to say that we’re all thinking about how to solve the same problems from different angles and bringing it all together from a client perspective is so important not ignoring how a CMO is interacting with a CTO or CDO. These conversations are happening. And when we approach them in a silo, we’re not solving that holistic growth challenge. So it’s great to be able to to address that and leverage the amazing power of Google and Alphabet.
Tony Safoian [00:07:16] And all the reasons you describe are also part of why we think Google Cloud is unique, uniquely positioned versus other clouds. And we’ll get into that later. I think it’s more applicable to TMEG than maybe other places because of those roots. But before we go too far into that, Andy so happy to have you at SADA. That’s just been a few months. We made some great inroads already. Talk about your background a little bit because I feel like we’re very fortunate to run into each other at the timing that it worked. But let’s talk about your background a little bit.
Tony Safoian [00:10:53] Yeah, look, I think everybody on your team Andy comes from having done the work in-house at a very high level that we want to work with Catherine and others at Google to kind of translate and take to many, many other customers. So we purposely didn’t want to hire professional consultants from like the Big Five. We wanted to hire leaders who’ve done it at places like Disney and worked at places like Amazon and gaming. Like we wanted that like a hands on experience of having done it so that the credibility of what we do translates to the customers we’re talking to. Let’s talk collectively about this vertical strategy. Catherine is relatively new , right? Phil’s org, Laurie’s org. The last couple of years, I kind of see them coming together and I feel like this year going into 2021 as he talked to Phil or Tina and now sort of your input as well has been like this is becoming more critical. There’s more investments going into the strategy. Telco, media, entertainment, gaming is an area that Google feels absolutely is a must win. Let’s talk about like as far as the maturity of enterprise software and the maturity of ecosystems, et cetera, why this strategy is so important to begin with. Why go verticalize if you’re Google Cloud?
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:12:21] Great question, Tony, and I think we can start a little bit in terms of who are these different teams and how are they structured and why they’re here. So a year ago and this really actually predates a year ago when Thomas Kurian came to Google, he really came on that vision of how to adapt our strategies and solutions to really tailor the trends of the market to the clients and the trends in the market. How do we really solve for the industry inside out? And you used a very interesting word that credibility, but also the empathy to really go on this journey with our clients. If we look at telecom, media, entertainment, especially these two industries are going through some critical times today. They’re being challenged on their revenue. They’re still making necessary investments. Gaming is going through just such a big surge, especially in the last year with Covid. So the credibility of being able to go over and with that empathy as well to our clients and being able to say the solution was developed with you in mind, we are here to solve your business problems. Google is overall solving for, you know, what cloud can bring to the table across all industries. But within these specific industries, there is that that tailored approach that really goes a long way. And around a year ago, a little more than a year ago, we started our vertical teams. So on the sales side, we have Phil and into him we have telecom, media, entertainment and gaming managed by Teena Piccione who’s at my leader, and I love working with her. She brings such great industry expertise and knowledge from I think you already did a Cloud N Clear with Teena, so I highly recommend going to watch that one too. I think so highly of Teena. And then on the other verticals, of course, retail, health care, life sciences and financial services. And then this is a really awesome team that was formed around a year ago as well, where we built an industry solutions team. This team is looking at the future of the vertical, the history of the vertical, and what we need to do to really take clients through that digital transformation journey. The leader of that organization for telecom, media, entertainment and gaming is George Nazih. And he is an industry veteran. And he’s really spent that time growing within that within the vertical or within the industry. And he even wrote a book about 5G. So we’re really looking in these industry experts to help us shape the strategy. And with them come, you know, these relationships that are so critical to to to the conversations as well, having being able to call on your network of thought leaders within the industry to idea and build with us is so incredibly critical. So I’m very excited about where this journey takes us. How I fit into all of this is that I’m our national partner, leader for a telecom, media, entertainment and gaming. And my role is to work with partners like SADA to also leverage the thought leadership that you bring and integrate that into our strategy. Thomas Kurian has been extremely clear in that we are so close to our partners at every single stage of the cycle from when we start thinking about the problem before we have a client in mind and how we solve that together all the way through delivery and growth. So I’m very excited to be building this team from the ground up and to be leading this partner driven focus. And I’ve already seen in my year in this role, we’ve done such great things together. So I’m very excited for our future.
Tony Safoian [00:15:50] And just in the mapping exercise, Catherine, it’s so great to see that, you know, there’s so many customers that we really have in common, that we’ve done a little bit of work for, or maybe a lot of work for, but now we get to engage with them in a much more coordinated fashion. I think just results in a better, better customer experience for them.
Andy Wright [00:16:09] That credibility piece is so key to success in this vertical as well in terms of having those conversations and bringing bringing those expertise and understanding the customer’s language, challenges, and opportunities and then figuring out how we can take the great services and product offerings that Google has across the board and bring them to bear.
Tony Safoian [00:16:31] Yeah, I was going to say Andy for you, coming from a house where you were the customer, like you were the buyer of technology, right? So you know what it is to sit on the other side? You know how to gauge the value of a partner or a vendor based on how they approach and execute decision makers. And the company know the target company at large. So can you tell me about that? Like, what is the advantage of Google coming forth with sort of a vertical team, like if you were on the buyers shoes, how would that resonate differently with you?
Andy Wright [00:17:10] Yeah, I think like I say, I think the key there is talking to someone who understands your industry and understands the challenges and opportunities you are facing and can have that conversation. I think there’s nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who’s asking you a bunch of questions that they should fundamentally know the answers to. If they understood your industry and your challenges, then, you know, they should already have that knowledge. And, you know, generally it’s less about the technical capabilities of that platform, right? In the case of Google Cloud, what I want to hear is, OK, how can you take those pieces that are best in class and then use them, put them together, integrate them and potentially integrate them with technology that I have already to deliver a solution that helps me solve a specific business problem or set of business problems or unlock some opportunity that I might have.
Tony Safoian [00:18:02] Yeah, yeah, I’m seeing more and more cases, and it’s very hard to do well, it’s just extremely rare. Like the best sellers and the best sales teams can only do it once in a while. But when it lands, it’s so magical. It’s when you go to a customer from an enterprise software perspective, a consulting perspective, and you’re trying to actually, let’s say you have like three customers, that’s all you can sell to and all three look like they’re pretty far down the road with some cloud strategy that doesn’t involve you or whatever, right? Or they’re stuck in the past and they don’t see the light. So you can’t even get them to evaluate what you have to offer, right? I’ve seen a few cases where that account team is able to go and truly understand their business like the current state and maybe their desired future state. But then not only paint a picture what that future state could look like, but like help them launch a new offering that happens to run on cloud or Google Cloud. But like when that’s done, well, it is so cool, and it’s really like the epitome of like the promise of why we all do this to begin with. To help transform entire industries, right – one customer at a time. But it’s hard to do in general, but definitely the probability of doing it well increases when you approach them with a team who’s done these sorts of things before in other places.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:19:36] Absolutely, and everybody, it’s innovate to survive these days, just looking at how many OTT platforms, for example, have launched in the last year, everybody can’t be doing every single thing the same way. You need to leverage every tool in your belt. You need to find the best solution on the best platform and really shape and have a wider bench of what you can really leverage in terms of resources across different clouds to really build the vision that you have and not build within a silo or framework that was provided to you by an external party. And I think that’s really where Anthos is really changing the game. We know, especially at least within the telco M&E industry, multi and hybrid cloud deployments are here to stay, at least for the next four to five years. And a lot of investments have already been made. It’s about how to open up these investments, how to leverage the existing base while pulling in new and exciting technology as well. And so for those who don’t know what Anthos is, it’s a single multi cloud deployment, development, orchestration and management platform for Cloud that will help, I believe, drive a lot of growth in the industries that we’re talking about in terms of T, M&E. And, you know, I think the early roots of Google Cloud, even before ML and AI, were really our success in Kubernetes and our contributions to open source. So any, you know Google Cloud client or partner will know is that we’re really passionate about driving open cloud and ecosystem led approach, which is why we’re always so excited when our partners are on this journey with us, because we’re proposing something innovative or proposing something new that and we’re recommending that our clients do things differently and learn a lot more than they’ve had to in the last few years in terms of this is a new cloud. This is a way to really drive that type of innovation that will not only take us from our core applications, but also to the edge and edge use case whenever the opportunity arises. And, you know, I was just so impressed at how SADA really jumped at that, when Anthos started rising within Google and helping us codevelop and ideate.
Tony Safoian [00:21:47] Our CTO might have something to do with that. Miles may have been a little passionate about it. But it’s so funny. When, from an external perspective, when we get criticized for being single cloud, I always point to Anthos. I’m like, look, we’re not saying the world is a single cloud. We just think Google cloud is the best cloud. But we also believe that the best way to orchestrate all hybrid multi-cloud environments is Anthos because a standard base, etc. We totally believe in it. But look, we have so much brainpower and expertise on this one podcast, not me, you two, mostly. I like to play a game where I’m going to talk, TMEG is so big. Telecom, Media, Entertainment, Gaming. I’m going to call out one of those and you two are going to comment on. You’re going to predict the future a little bit? Here are the biggest changes and here what I see the most innovative companies doing and I’m going to start with gaming. I’m going to start with Andy, Andy. Tell us about gaming. What’s going on? What does the future hold? What are the challenges? And what are some of the most innovative gaming companies doing to be prepared and execute?
Andy Wright [00:23:00] Yeah, yeah, great question. I think, you know, the interesting thing about the gaming space is generally gaming companies are pretty cloud mature, out of necessity. If you think about a mobile gaming company, they have a game with some backend services. They want to launch that thing. They need to be ready to go 100x if this thing takes off like a rocket ship. So if you look at something like four guys, you know, you just have to be ready for explosive growth. And the cloud lends itself to that to use case and that problem extremely well. I mean, the flip side to that as well is if you’ve got a property that’s maybe on the downward curve of popularity, you want to be able to manage the costs per user of that product very closely and optimize it as efficiently as you can. As I think about, you know, going forward in the future, I think there’s huge potential in in AR and AR driven experiences in the gaming space. And, you know, I think there’s some hardware platforms needed to unlock that. I know Facebook and Apple and Microsoft and Google are all working in that space. You know, I think 5G is an enabler for that. So I think you’re going to see all of that stuff merge and these entertainment and gaming companies, build these experiences in AR that are location based. So if you think about the Web and unlocking that and 5G and AR hardware.
Tony Safoian [00:24:27] Pokemon Go, obviously took the world by storm. That was using Google Maps and properties. There’s Google Maps, SKU’s that enable like location based gaming as well, so like the one Google approach that Catherine talked about. But also gaming is at an all time high. You know, the King folks told me like Candy Crush is back up to its record levels. Candy Crush! That game’s been around forever! No, during the pandemic, it hit an all-time high! And, you know, also like working with gaming companies, and Andy I think you’re alluding to this, not all the cloud environments for every game were built well or were super optimized. You know, the initial architecture level. So there’s a lot of opportunities to optimize, refactor, reform, containerize so that they can have maximum flexibility as their demand change.
Andy Wright [00:25:23] The way we see that with a lot of our gaming customers where they’ve gone partial way there. So they might have some sort of containerized, but that, that, that sat on top of some legacy database that they struggle to scale, right? So how do you get them into a managed database solution like cloud spanner or something like that?
Tony Safoian [00:25:40] Totally, totally. Alright, Catherine, I know this is an area that’s a passion of yours. That’s let’s talk about telco. What’s in their world and public part of the reason this is all blended together because like telcom is becoming media is becoming gaming like it’s all very, but they all have their unique challenges as well. So let’s talk about the telecom industry and the challenges and sort of like also just cover how we think Google Cloud’s in a unique position to help those providers transform.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:26:17] Great question, Tony. And I want to start by, you know, by saying telecom, media, entertainment and gaming, like you describe, there is a lot of overlapping parts of their businesses. And but also there is that I keep using that word symbiotic relationship because I feel like it’s really what powers how we do things. So with covid, in the last 12 months, we’ve seen a surge in at home entertainment. And that means the lines of the traditional M&E companies being like music or TV or gaming, these front lines are really blurring. So people who, you know, in the past were casual gamers are becoming hardcore gamers. I picked up a controller in March 2020, and I started on like, oh, what is this Horizon Zero Dawn, I’ll play this game. Strong female lead – I’ll do it. And it just has really changed the way we choose to spend our time. But from a Telco perspective, their importance has not been as profound as we’ve known them to be in the last year. It’s that information fabric that’s driving all of us forward in this pandemic, how we work, how we educate and how we entertain? Over 90 percent of customers have said that telcos have stepped up and exceeded expectations put on them in the last year, something nobody really would have expected because that relationship you have with your telco can be a bit love, hate, because you depend on them so much. They’re part of your everyday life, but they’re only top of mind for you when something goes wrong, when your service is down. Oh, and I experienced that, when we have that Texas snowstorm out of the blue around a month ago, it just becomes so essential. You start getting, you know, these withdrawals symptoms of I can’t get connected. What can I do? So this just really underscores the importance of these telcos in our day to day lives. But the reality is that with these increased expectations and this increased importance, this hasn’t necessarily translated into revenue for them , right? increased demand. Unfortunately, a lot of telcos are over. Seventy five percent of them actually are expecting their revenues to continue to decline over the next 12 to 18 months. Year and year, we’ve already seen a point five percent decline in revenues, but the surge in demand is forcing them to invest, especially with 5G coming around the corner and everybody trying to realize that promise of 5G. So, the investment expectations are huge. I think there is around eight hundred and seventy two billion dollars in investments to be made globally over the next decade to keep up with demand and to keep up with 5G. So if we think about how these telcos need to continue to deliver quality against rapidly rising demand, juxtaposed with that slowly evolving infrastructure, some people have described that that customer experience is really at a breaking point. And especially now with 40 percent of employees, which are expected to continue to work remotely, permanently. And you guys being part of our workspace journey, you helped a lot of clients move, you know, a lot of traditional enterprises. A lot of them do tend to fall within that telecom, media, entertainment segment, specifically. You’ve seen that journey firsthand, how that, you know, clients or companies that haven’t prepared for it have had to just propel themselves into the future and redefine how a lot of that works. And that in itself also puts strain on that infrastructure to make sure that we don’t have these awkward video conference moments where people are pausing. I can’t hear you. Can you go on mute? You can you go off mute? Can you take the camera off? That’s just that’s how we’re living and breathing this problem every single day. And before I go on and talk about how we’re hearing, I want to ask you from a SADA perspective, like how your journey with Workspace has been for a moment because you guys have just been so essential and it must have been driving you nuts in the last 12 months, just like the volume you’ve had to deal with.
Tony Safoian [00:30:13] Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s bandwidth is required. And actually upload bandwidth is required to have a great video conference experience, which is part of Workspace and Google Meet. A lot of our biggest TMEG customers started out as workspace customers for us, in fact. And so we’ve done some of the the larger ones. And there’s a great story about Sony Imageworks that came out recently as well, which is like 10 years in the making. And that’s just one public example. But there’s many, many others. And so, you know, we had customers that were either on the way there or had already migrated. And they’re all hands on deck. Emergency work from home moment was actually not that big of a deal, right? They could very smoothly make the transition what they had to do in some cases, maybe upgrade some features, buy additional licenses. But the foundational work was there. So it was like grab a laptop, go home, maybe upgrade your Internet. I think a lot of people had to upgrade their internet, but because we all had great download for like watching movies but not great upload for having video calls. That’s a lot of work that the telcos have to do to create that level of almost enterprise experience at home – bandwidth wise. And the demand has continued to increase now that things have settled into what people perceive as long term new normal. And Javier Soltero is doing an amazing job with the roadmap. I mean, you’ve seen Catherine, like the features are just coming out. They’re getting better. It’s more collaborative. What we had customers do, I think, in a year ago this time, and maybe the first two quarters of last year was they panicked and bought everything. They bought every SaaS solution on the planet. You know, it’s like Zoom and Slack and One Drive and Dropbox. And so, like now they’re like, oh, my God, we’re paying two hundred dollars per user per month for all this stuff. So now they’re like sanity check- Workspace. We can do everything. They’re one tenth of cost, no data silos, better security posture. So all those conversations are are going great. And some of the biggest TMEG names on the planet are going live in waves around Workspace in a very exciting way. And Andy feel free to chime in here as well. I mean, you talk with customers all the time.
Andy Wright [00:32:44] Yeah. I mean, I’m closely involved with a couple of our Workspace customers, big Workspace customers in the vertical. I think, you know, in both cases, they were already on that journey to to make the switch to workspace. I think what it did is it to your point, it accelerated that timeline for how quickly they were going to get their organization onto workspace. But I think, you know, the flip side was also it helped with the change management. I mean, their employees and workforce was forced to start using these tools, forced to start collaborating remotely. And I think that actually helped them as they went through the change management journey.
Tony Safoian [00:33:24] Yeah, we’ve been doing video calls, Catherine, for ten years as the new as the phone call because we work at Google or with Google. That’s not culturally up until a year or two ago… That’s not like a culturally widely accepted thing. I think most people still have the cameras off, you know, if you work in financial services, you’re still dialing into the conversations. Like, that’s been a big that’s been a big shift. And I think it will continue again, because I think the Javier Soltero impact of the roadmap, the product is just getting so good and Chrome is getting so good. And the way it all works together is the lowest cost, easiest to manage, most secure and most productive footprint you can have. I mean, Chrome surpassed Mac OS as the number two selling computer OS on the planet. I mean, that’s like Chrome is just ten years old. It’s remarkable. It’s remarkable.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:34:20] It’s amazing. It’s amazing. And all of this is just, you know, painting a picture about that digital transformation journey. We’re going through it as individuals, just seeing turning around and looking at your kids, learning online. I know that for myself, as you said, Tony, I’ve been at Google nine years since day one. We’ve been doing video conferences. And, you know, it’s been part of our day to day. But childhoods didn’t used to be this way. Industries didn’t used to be this way. So this is part of our personal transformation journeys in that digital transformation, but also that level of infrastructure that goes behind it. Just the technology that’s powered by Google, by our telcos, just making this truly a seamless experience. It’s starting to really come full circle and really just be at the heart of how we learn and operate. And as we take that back to just, you know, that pain that our telcos are feeling today. Just back to your earlier question to me, I think it’s really important, and also if I tie this back to that idea of credibility and empathy, it’s really important to understand during this time what’s been top of mind for our clients and not and when we say clients, you know, it’s the aggregate of the different organizations, but within that organization, the different business leaders. So if you know what we’re hearing from our business execs, unsurprisingly, is how to grow their top line, be it be to be or B to C and drive revenues. And within telcos, there is this huge focus on how to unlock the promise of 5G and deliver new industry applications and products and how to capitalize on Edge and Internet of Things and drive that transformation in the enterprise. And this has a ripple effect on industries like manufacturing and retail and health care. So a lot of that innovation is still bottled up and ready to really just drive that change when these industries themselves have figured out these applications and where they’re really, truly going to realize the promise of the edge. And when we think about network engineering teams, as we were talking about earlier, how do they continue to drive those significant investments in infrastructure while creating very transformational capital efficiencies while also driving our why. So how do we keep the lights on? How do we make money? And how do we make sure that we’re really transforming our business so that we continue to drive our why and continue to be ahead of the game and differentiate, as the insanity of the world we’re living in continues to lead the way. This is truly like a lifestyle led evolution. And then when you talk to your CIOs, they’re really focused on how to transform that total cost of ownership completely, be it network or I.T., and how to transform planning and management of network systems. And so working super closely with engineering teams and products and business owners on how to define that priority list. And then when it all comes back to the user, that chief customer officer is really trying to invent that customer experience by leveraging everything. That’s all these investments that are being made, the the promised disruption of 5G. But also what’s happening today is we’re talking about this surge in demand and those increased expectations. And Google can do a lot to help with that. As I was saying earlier, we’ve already experienced it firsthand through our rapid growth. How do we support our users with YouTube, Search, Gmail. Larry Page, I remember I was really early in my career at Google and he was coming up and saying, like, what is our single view of the user? What is the seamless cross device experience and mobile use to be referred to as that second device? And we all know now it’s a primary device. Like even you know, when I’m here speaking to you, I’m checking is my boss pinging me? Is there anything I need to do to it in the meantime? Is my kid’s day care pinging me? We’re always on through our phones. And it’s just thinking about how that seamless experience has happened and not by chance that Google has a lot of experience thinking about how to deliver that level of high tier customer experience to serve our billions of users and monthly active users every single day. So we leverage that footprint when we launched our Edge strategy last year and we’re collaborating with telcos to leverage their deep infrastructure with Google’s broad infrastructure and to help them drive that monetization overall. We talked about how Anthos has been a part of that. And Google is recognized as a leader in data and analytics. And there are huge applications for data and analytics in that telco industry, from customer service to contact centers. And we had that amazing journey that we talked about in the past with Verizon last year, CORE networks as well, just truly being able to understand and optimize your network through network analytics. And you prompted me on this earlier, Tony, just bringing that strength and that experience from across our alphabet businesses to help our telcos and their own clients go through that transformation journey has really been key.
Tony Safoian [00:39:18] For sure. And I think that’s a great Segway into, you know, maybe the sexiest part of TMEG – the media and entertainment, part, right? Which is like, again, all mesh together. I remember I was in business school when Comcast acquired NBC Universal. We’re like, what do you mean? The people providing the pipes are buying the people that make the stuff. That’s crazy, right? But that’s how much the world is evolving – that was only ten years ago. So M&E gets probably the most visibility and Andy, I mean, you know, it’s an area you could argue that Amazon has a huge head start, right? So as we kind of engage with those customers, again, many of them are existing customers, whether it’s for Workspace and a little bit of GCP, and we’re doing Maps stuff with them. But how does Google win with M&E? Because they are producing more content than ever. They have to stream it in different ways and deliver in different ways than ever before. We’ve seen that we both challenge and evolve. Frankly, I love paying 30 dollars for a brand new Disney release, like at home, like, I think I’ll do that forever right. So how is that shifting and how do you see Google’s role in there, considering a lot of the stuff used to run on premise. Then a lot of stuff Amazon has as an early start, you worked at Amazon. You’re probably part of those projects. How’s Google going to win.
Andy Wright [00:40:42] Yeah, great question, I think, you know, what I think is interesting about Google’s strategy is leaning heavily on partners and ISV’s to bring those industry specific solutions to augment the industry solutions that they’re working on as well internally. But I think, you know, I’ve seen a lot of progress there in terms of other partners and ISV building on top of the Google infrastructure. I mean, Google has a specific advantage specifically around the global network and their points of presence globally. So, you know, if you’re a media company thinking about, OK, with a diverse, geographically diverse workforce, how do you give them the access to the content? How do you distribute that content both internally and to the end users? I think Google has a huge advantage with its global network. And as they continue to invest in the solutions that Catherine talked about earlier, you know, they’re going to start to close the gap on the Amazons of the world. I think, you know, obviously you alluded to this, Tony, with the Disney Plus thing and buying new releases there. Covid has accelerated what I saw as an inevitable change to those distribution models. So, you know, you look at what Disney is doing now with Disney Plus and putting releases, you know, day and date with theatrical. HBO is doing the same, you know, and they’re meeting customers where they need where they need to, right? Where the demand is. And, you know, I think they haven’t done it in the past due to the business relationships and huge amounts of revenue they had tied up in them. But covid forced them to reexamine those strategies and to think differently and really focus on the needs of customers. And, you know, it gives them a lot of flexibility. So now, if you were a movie studio or a content owner, you’ve got a lot of different options in terms of how you distribute and monetize that content, whereas before you would probably tied into a very specific windowing strategy. So, you know, I think where Google can help is obviously that global network, the best cloud technology. You know, we’ve seen a lot of creative workflows move to the cloud – again, accelerated by covid. So, you know, thinking workstations in the cloud; so editorial workflows, even game development, development of animation, content on game engines, all done with cloud based workstations and cloud based rendering. So, you know, we’re going to see, you know, animation movie studios work entirely in the cloud, from creation to ideation to storyboarding through to encoding and packaging for distribution. So, you know, I think, Google is extremely well positioned with their partner strategy, with the ISV’s that they’ve got using their platform and the investments they’re making on their site in the industry specific solutions.
Tony Safoian [00:43:46] Catherine, anything to add on the media side?
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:43:49] Yeah, absolutely, and I just loved hearing Andy talk through that story because you guys know what makes Google unique in this case? I think to add to that our machine learning and AI is going to be critical, going to be key. There is a crowding in all of these OTT platforms launching in the last year. I think the average user spends thirty nine dollars per month on subscription services. And that dollar, that thirty nine dollars, you have to stretch it across all of these services. On average, users may have three. So how did you differentiate yourself? It’s so easy to subscribe and then unsubscribe. It’s just so easy. So a lot of the strategies around content -which content do I produce? What are users watching? How do I segment my users to understand how to inform my content strategy? It’s really expensive to produce content that doesn’t work – that nobody wants to watch. So you’re just adding to the content graveyard and we’re reaching a point of saturation of you can watch so many shows on just one streaming platform, hundreds and thousands of stories multiplying that by the number of streaming platforms you have. You this really just amplifies the data problem. So I’m you know, I want to understand how do I make my marketing investment worthwhile? How do I really drive that? Why to acquire the , right? user, retain that user. And today, retention is the new acquisition. You get that user, you keep that user. And the way you keep them is by really driving that content strategy that you have.
[00:45:19] And I think just the power between Google’s ML and AI there is really critical, like YouTube, you know, we’ve gone through these challenges with YouTube. I think, you know, I remember 10 years ago when I was on the team, we were talking about like it used to be, number of views that we would discuss with our CMOs. Today, it’s time spent. And so if you think about that lifetime value of the user, it’s really how long they spend on your platform. And when it’s at the end of the day, you’re tired. You don’t want to put a lot of thought. You really just default to your go to. But that default to that go to, it seems as users we don’t maybe put much thought into it, but that’s the power of branding. That’s the power of hundreds and thousands of people at these organizations putting together everything they know about the user and individually and in aggregate to deliver that best in class experience. Yeah, that’s you.
Tony Safoian [00:46:17] That’s so important. YouTube is so good at serving me what I’m interested in. Plus, it’s so good that I’m willing to pay for it and not see the ads, you know, and I think that’s a leap that these platforms need to make as well and decide like the studios how is the freemium model going to work. How are they going to create these different tiers like you pay for Disney plus but you also pay thirty bucks to see a new release – there’s new models being born all the time.
Andy Wright [00:46:46] Yeah, I think exactly what you made about those, what you would consider traditional media companies moving into the OTT space. I think Google’s story about the Vision API and the machine learning pieces and data really helps with that, because if you’re a media company set on a huge amount of content and you’re trying to use a OTT service, the amount of metadata and understanding from a data perspective you need about that content in order to effectively deliver it on an OTT platform to an end consumer and have them find the content that they’re interested in, have it be searchable in a meaningful way, you know, driving recommendation engines, they need that data and they don’t have it right now. So they have to leverage the cloud and those machine learning and the vision API to enrich the data that they have about that content in order to leverage it on these OTT platforms. And that applies to we’ve seen this in covid. That applies to kind of historical catalog sport content, right? Which you in the past paradigm is fairly low value. But, you know, I’ve been watching reruns of classic Premier League matches on ESPN Plus and, you know, that would not have happened in the past. But, you know, they needed to find that content. They need to be able to service it for this OTT platform. So I think that’s an interesting challenge where Google has some great products that can help solve that problem.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:48:16] Yeah, absolutely, and especially with production becoming so expensive during covid and a post covid world, it just really hones in on that criticality and that value of that metadata. And in informing decisions, what to produce, went to produce it, who to produce it for and who to market it for. So I think it just all really because this holistic digital story of how our decision makers better informed and how does this eventually trickle down to the user where we’re living our lives just with all this amazing content constantly and we want this to continue and become better.
Tony Safoian [00:48:52] Yeah, and just to highlight and this is a customer of ours, so it pains me to say, but, you know, it takes more than an unlimited amount of money and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman to make something work. I mean, we saw could be Quibi’s rise and fall. Unfortunately, this is not easy to figure out. And we’re in the position to help traditional media companies transform. Again, all of it is related because there’s gaming stuff that happens from from these properties and these assets. There’s, of course, a completely different pressure on on on the telecom side to be able to provide that level of bandwidth required to consume all the stuff. We’re in a tremendous position to help. We’re more excited than ever to partner with you, Catherine, and with Teena and with George, you know, with Andy and the army of engineering team members and architects behind him to help support. And we’re excited about what Google is going to bring to market, because I think we’re starting to make inroads and stories are starting to come out. But I think the best is yet to come. And I think 2021 is going to be defining year, but the next several years are going to be extremely exciting in terms of Google’s impact in the space.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:50:08] Absolutely. I’m so excited as well, Tony, and just thinking like this is 12 months with our industry solutions teams and our sales team catering to clients, bringing these client demands from the field, just what we’ve been able to accomplish and tailor in one year. I am so humbled and grateful for these amazing individuals we have here at Google working for Tina and George and really driving this momentum and telecom, media, entertainment and gaming. And I’m grateful for partners like SADA where you guys listen and tailor and move with us in real time, sometimes as cloud providers, as partners, as clients as well. We’re at risk of stagnating. And just that energy to wake up every day and say, I’m probably going to learn something new today or I want to learn something new to that. I want to build something new today that takes energy. It takes selecting the right people. And I commend you on that. I think you do an excellent job hiring the right folks in your team that are bringing that energy and that innovation and that true listening that we need today. So I can only imagine the great things that we’re going to do together.
Tony Safoian [00:51:10] Appreciate that, Andy. Any final words of wisdom?
Andy Wright [00:51:15] Just excited about the future and the potential of aligning with Google’s industry vertical strategy and being a part of that and being a part of the investment that Tony and the leadership team at SADA are making in supporting that vertical strategy at SADA.
Tony Safoian [00:51:32] Well said, Catherine, thank you for the partnership for the support. We believe in a high level of activity, as you’ve seen, but without someone like you to really orchestrate how partners engage with customers and with Google, all of our efforts would not land at all the way that landing right now. So I appreciate your alignment with our teams and thank you so much for being on our podcast. And thank you, Andy for coming on board, joining SADA and driving all this innovation here for our customers. And I look forward to an amazing twenty, twenty one together. Thank you for being my guests.
Catherine Abou Abdallah [00:52:12] Thank you, Tony, for having us.
Narration [00:52:16] Thank you for listening to Cloud N Clear check the show notes for links to this week’s topics. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter at Cloud N Clear and our website, SADA.com. Be sure to wait and review the show on your favorite podcast app.