There are two levels at which Google excites. There is a systematic stream of advances, such as those presented at the 2015 Google I/O event earlier this year -- Android M, Google Photos and the like.
Then there is major game-changing news that seems to come out of nowhere but appears to capture the future in an extraordinary way. We all know about the self-driving car that is spurring global innovation in transportation. (Yes, Google has much tweaking to do before we hit public acceptance and high usability. But the moon-shot nature of the initial effort and its impact in pushing the industry to think anew remain valid). Google's Project Loon seeks to use balloons to bring Wi-Fi to the whole world. Then there are the more recent advances in developing ways of detecting heart attacks, cancers and strokes earlier than possible today.
It is easy to look at look at such major advances simply in awe and classify Google as the "other" -- an unreachable company with its super-deep pockets and extraordinary leadership and vision. But step back and you find a core set of behaviors that any company can emulate. These are simple, powerful and financially useful things to learn from Google. These are lessons that anyone can apply to their business to make a positive step toward change.
Here are five things that stand out:
Make your customer experience simple. There is no question that ease of use has been an absolute driver for Google from the start. A clean, uncluttered screen, with an obvious purpose: A search bar, and a click to use it after telling it what to search for. The results, too are uncluttered. It is all just eminently useful.
Ask yourself (along with many other similar questions): Are all those pages and pages on your website just clutter or truly useful to visitors in making buying decisions?
Be data driven. It is said that all decisions at Google are data driven -- "facts trump opinion." Marissa Mayer, now at Yahoo but previously at Google, famously tested 41 shades of blue for the Google logo to arrive at the best one. Ask yourself: How much do you rely on "experience" and "gut feel" from your senior leaders versus analytics and testing to drive success?
Be committed to continual improvement. Doing things right once for the applause and, hopefully, money is not enough. Goggle is forever trying to improve -- whether it is how their doodles are designed and presented, or a tweak in Gmail, or the breakthroughs that have been achieved in machine translation of Web pages using Big Data approaches. Improvement is a philosophy that can be sustained only through institutional dissatisfaction with the status quo.
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