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February 8, 2021updated 31 Mar 2023 10:43am

Google Cloud pursues flagship clients to boost enterprise credibility

Global Payments win follows partnership deals with Ford, Deutsche Bank and Landis+Gyr, as CEO Thomas Kurian's industry strategy bears fruit.

By Matthew Gooding

A strategic partnership between Google Cloud and payments processor Global Payments announced today is the latest win for the tech giant’s new approach to growing its cloud market share. Tie-ups with car marker Ford, Swiss smart energy specialist Landis+Gyr, and German finance giant Deutsche Bank reflect a push to win ‘flagship’ deals that help establish the company’s enterprise credentials.

Google Cloud Growth Strategy

A Ford manufacturing plant in Romania. The company has signed up to Google Cloud. (Photo by Roibu/Shutterstock)

Global Payments will “migrate its merchant acquiring technology to Google Cloud”, the company said in a statement, “and will provide merchant acquiring services to Google to extend its global market reach”. Global Payments will offer its merchant customers access to cloud-hosted capabilities including “data and analytics, omnichannel ordering, payments, collaboration suite, email marketing, online presence and reputation management, loyalty, gift card, point-of-sale, capital access and payroll solutions”.

The Ford partnership, announced last week, will see Google Cloud become the automotive company’s preferred cloud provider as it looks to digitise its front and back office, as well as exploring new ways to utilise data generated at Ford’s manufacturing plants and by its vehicles. Google’s Android Automotive system will also be deployed in Ford and Lincoln vehicles from 2023.

Ford’s deal with Google Cloud will see staff from both companies working together in a group dubbed “Team Upshift”, which will look at new opportunities arising from their partnership. This could apparently include projects ranging from developing new retail experiences when buying a vehicle to creating new ownership offers based on data.

“As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernise our business,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford.

Meanwhile, Google Cloud has also joined forces with Landis+Gyr to begin development of a new cloud-based energy management platform. The smart meter maker will draw on Google’s data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, it said, to help energy providers to make better use of smart metering and thereby create a more sustainable power grid.

And in December, Deutsche Bank announced that it is using Google Cloud to accelerate the movement of many of its major services, including the Autobahn institutional electronic trading platform, to the cloud. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

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Google Cloud’s growth strategy

The deals will provide a revenue boost to Google Cloud, which currently occupies a distant third place in the cloud computing market by market share. AWS enjoyed a 32% share of the market in Q4 2020, according to industry analysts Synergy Research Group, with Azure on 20% and Google Cloud on 9%. AWS earned more cloud revenue in the past six months than Google Cloud has brought in over two years, the companies’ recent filings reveal.

That’s not to say its cloud business is failing. “The market numbers are such that Google Cloud can be very successful without ever catching up to AWS and Microsoft,” says Synergy’s chief analyst John Dinsdale. But recent moves suggest the tech giant is hungry for more.

These deals reflect Google’s explicit aim to win high-profile cloud computing customers, says Carla Arend, a lead analyst at IDC covering the cloud markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. “Google is going very targeted after flagship customers across Europe to establish credibility with enterprise customers,” she says.

This strategy is the brainchild of Thomas Kurian, the former Oracle executive who joined Google Cloud as CEO in January 2019. He is building a team to focus on six target industries: financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and industrial, the public sector, retail, and media, telecommunications and entertainment.

This strategy was evident in a string of European appointments last year, says Arend. These included Pip White, who took up the position of managing director for UK and Ireland after a near-20-year stint at Salesforce, and Daniel Holz, who joined from SAP to become vice-president for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Nordics.

It’s a pattern that has been repeated in other regions, with Derek White recruited from the US Bank to take up a position as vice-president of global financial services at Google Cloud’s US operation, and another SAP veteran, Joe Miles, stepping into the role of managing director for healthcare and life sciences.

These appointments seem to be bearing fruit. More flagship deals will follow, says Arend. “We expect to see more of these announcements in the future.”

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