Welcome to Google’s G Suite era.
Google’s efforts to become a big business technology company continued Thursday with a rebranding of its cloud computing division as Google Cloud, which also includes its newly named business app unit G Suite. Yes, corporate rebrandings can sometimes be all marketing and little substance. In Google’s case, the company has so many different technology services ranging from database tools to calendar apps, it wants to simplify things by lumping everything into one big category.
Of course, in order for Google to compete with traditional enterprise vendors like Microsoft, it must do more than pull off name change. Google must offer customer service and support, which analysts have criticized Google for failing to do well. Google may have lots of powerful technology, but it doesn’t know how to nurture longstanding relationships with its business customers.
Brian Stevens, Google’s vice president of cloud platforms, told Fortune that one way Google plans to counter that notion is by hiring more professional services staff. In February, the company hired former VMware executive Jason Martin to oversee Google’s professional services team that will work directly with business leaders. Martin had a similar role at VMware under former VMware founder and now Google Cloud chief Diane Greene.
Stevens also said Google created a separate engineering-focused consulting unit that will teach customers how to use Google’s cutting-edge data center technology. The new team helped Google Cloud customer Niantic troubleshoot what went wrong when the company’s Pokémon Go mobile game experienced major performance problems over the summer amid the crush of people playing the game.
It’s these kinds of close business relationships that could persuade companies to give Google a chance. Time will tell if Google is able to do to the John Deeres of the world what it could do to the makers of Pokémon Go.
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BITS AND BYTES
Salesforce is trying to block the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal. The cloud software company is sounding antitrust alarm bells by arguing that Microsoft would have an unfair competitive advantage when it gains control to the social network's rich array of data on more than 450 million business professionals in more than 200 countries. (Wall Street Journal)
Microsoft creates artificial intelligence division. It's combining its research organization with the product groups in charge of several high-profile projects that will benefit from machine learning and other AI projects, including the Bing search engine and the Cortana voice assistant. The new group, led by executive vice president Harry Shum, has more than 5,000 employees. (Fortune, New York Times)
Qualcomm's potential bid for rival chipmaker NXP would be smart play. Get ready for semiconductor consolidation, part deux. The Wall Street Journal reports that talks are under way for a merger that could value the Dutch maker of chips for wireless, power, and sensor applications at $30 billion. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
IBM buys influential Wall Street consulting firm. The tech giant is acquiring well-respected Promontory, which advises mega-banks on their annual stress tests. The plan is to use the expertise of the firm's 600 or so consultants to make IBM's Watson artificial intelligence technology a better tool for managing financial regulatory compliance. (Fortune)
Nutanix manages to justify private valuation. The data center technology company priced its initial public offering at $16 per share on Thursday night. That gives it an initial market capitalization of about $2.2 billion ahead of its public trading debut, slightly above the $2 billion valuation it earned with its last private funding. Nutanix specializes in equipment that merges attributes of computer servers and data storage devices. (Wall Street Journal, Reuters)
Accenture's big digital push pays off. The consulting firm spent more than $930 million on acquisitions last year, mainly for specialists in cloud software or digital services. Its focus on "The New" helped boost its revenue to $8.5 billion in the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, higher than anticipated. (Reuters)
Energy entrepreneurs chart new path in wake of cleantech crash. Investors have collectively burned billions of dollars, and their reputations, on startups that have tried to make new types of solar panels, biofuels, and electric cars, but that have gone under or been sold for pennies. At one point, this movement was called “cleantech” and it was the Next Big Thing.
There have been some outlier Valley energy success stories, like Elon Musk’s electric car firm Tesla, but that's the rare exception. That means if you’re an entrepreneurial scientist, you’ll probably have a tough time finding funding, or even just getting your tech out of the laboratory.
Fortunately, a new group of big thinkers are creating novel programs meant to help science and engineering-based entrepreneurs build and sell their ideas, while sidestepping the land mines that knocked down so many that came before them. These programs merge various models—like the tech accelerator, the government system, and the corporate R&D lab—into something entirely new. Read Fortune's Katie Fehrenbacher's feature about turning scientific ideas into products.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How the Apple Watch May Help Restaurants Improve Customer Service, by Leena Rao
Hip Stock Trading App Adds New Features for Investing Pros, by Kia Kokalitcheva
Why a Spotify Acquisition of SoundCloud Makes Sense, by Mathew Ingram
Emergency Cell Phone Alerts Get Better, by Jeff John Roberts
How to Sidestep Apple's Annoying Home Button Change, by Lisa Eadicocco/TIME
ONE MORE THING
Donald Trump suggests Google is out to get him. The Republican presidential nominee is pushing a theory that the company is using its Internet search engine to suppress good news about him and downplay criticism of his rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton. (Fortune, New York Times)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem meets. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)
Atlassian Summit: Tips and training for developers and project managers. (Oct. 10-13; San Jose, Calif.)
Virtuous Circle: The future of the Internet ecosystem. (Oct. 10-11; Menlo Park, Calif.)
Gartner Symposium/ITexpo: A gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders. (Oct. 16-20; Orlando, Fla.)
DellWorld: Dell's annual global customer conference. (Oct. 18-20; Austin, Texas)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world's largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)
QuickBooks Connect: Intuit's third annual customer and developer conference. (Oct. 24-26; San Jose, Calif.)
World of Watson: The power of data, analytics, and cognitive. (Oct. 24-27; Las Vegas)
AI World: Business applications for artificial intelligence. (Nov. 7-9; San Francisco)
TBM Conference: Manage the business of IT. (Nov. 7-10; San Diego)
DevOps Enterprise Summit: Develop and deploy software faster. (Nov. 7-9; San Francisco)
Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)
AWS re:Invent: Amazon's annual cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)