3 Takeaways from Google Cloud Next ’18

What an event!  After weeks of preparation and anticipation, Cloud Next 2018 came and went in a flash. It was three days packed with keynotes, sessions, hands-on labs, and interaction with several customers and prospects at our booth.

Three prominent themes I observed at the conference were democratizing AI and ML, support multi-cloud environments and disruption in contact center technology.  

We’ve heard from customers that a challenge they face in AI and ML adoption is the dearth of talent. Over the last few years, Google has delivered products to help customers adopt AI, but at this conference, two big announcements caught my eye.

The first is Beta availability of AutoML and expansion beyond Vision into Natural Language and Translation. Many customers amass a ton of image and text data – considered unstructured data. Leveraging AutoML allows these users to quickly and easily gain predictive insights from it this data.

The other area that Google announced in making ML accessible is the availability of BigQuery ML. BigQuery ML enables users to create and execute machine learning models in BigQuery using standard SQL queries. It democratizes machine learning by enabling SQL practitioners to build models using existing SQL tools and skills.  This allows developers to apply ML right where their data is, rather than having to migrate to another tool to run ML models.

Google launched a key component in running and managing scalable applications with the open-source Kubernetes project. Now, Google has taken it one step further by providing a framework that can help manage applications in hybrid environments (multi-cloud or on-prem), something that large enterprises have a need for. With its new Cloud Services Platform, Google is now offering a service called Istio that will help manage, monitor and secure microservices across clouds. Istio is about to hit its 1.0 release soon. GKE, the Google Kubernetes Engine, is the core Google Cloud service for managing containers in the cloud. And now Google is essentially bringing this service to the enterprise data center, too.

Google announced features that benefit contact centers. These include enhancements to Dialogflow Enterprise Edition, their chatbot technology that helps customers build AI-powered virtual agents. They also announced support for phone-based conversational agents known as interactive voice response (IVR). Say goodbye to old school IVR systems that are rigid and inflexible. With this new addition, customers get access to technology that can plug right into the existing channel that their users may already be using. Another enhancement in Dialogflow was the availability of Knowledge Connectors that can understand unstructured documents like FAQs or knowledge base articles. The Cloud Contact Center AI announcement has the potential to disrupt legacy contact center technology, and includes Dialogflow alongside other tools to assist live agents.