"While the internet is of course available to every company, Google has made major investments to get more out of it and to construct a proprietary platform that supports new and growing online services. According to unofficial but widely reported statistics, Google owns a network infrastructure consisting of approximately one million computers; these run an operating system that allows new computer clusters to plug in and be globally recognized and instantly available for use. The operating software that performs this magic is a customized version of open source Linux (which itself is built to make it easy for third parties to add features of competitive value).
Another aspect of the infrastructure is that the internet platform is built to scale. For example, when Google needs more data centers, the proprietary operating system makes them easy to add. And the company can move data around the world seamlessly to meet changing user demand. Managing the petabytes of data Google accumulates requires special database-management tools. Because existing commercial systems couldn’t efficiently support such large volumes of data, Google developed a proprietary database called Bigtable, which is tuned to work with Google’s operating system to process growing volumes of data quickly and efficiently."
That’s just one paragraph from the amazing article, Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine, by Bala Iyer and Thomas H. Davenport in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review (you may have to hop through a couple of clicks, but the article she be accessible for free). I’ve been more than a little fascinated about Google – as a corporate entity – since experiencing the culture first hand when I presented at the Googleplex last year. As Marketers, we tend to focus on the stuff like AdWords and Google Analytics, but, after reading this article, there’s no doubt you’ll uncover gems and insights that will ignite and inspire your own passion for innovation within your organization.
And, if you’re wondering how to drive this down to each and every employee in your organization, read this anecdote from an "Engineer – Blogger":
"In my first month at Google, I complained to a friend on the Gmail team about a couple of small things that I disliked about Gmail. I expected him to point me to the bug database. But he told me to fix it myself, pointing me to a document on how to bring up the Gmail development environment on my workstation. The next day my code was reviewed by Gmail engineers, and then I submitted it. A week later, my change was live. I was amazed by the freedom to work across teams, the ability to check in code [submit workable programs] to another project, the trust [placed] in engineers to work on the right thing, and the excitement and speed of getting things done for our users….I didn’t have to ask for anyone’s permission to work on this."
Ah, Google, is there anything you can’t do?
Check out the full story here: Harvard Business Review – Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine.
Re: developer anecdote — It’s real community at its best. If the community (here, Google devs) is passionate, and is armed with the ability to contribute and feel rewarded, the product and its users benefit.
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