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Google solves problem, sees opportunities

But there’s a bigger enterprise play than Google’s getting incloud-based, flexible routing. The system makes it possible for Googleto offer commercial enterprises a cloud-based service to take controlof broader logistics functions. Those might be as basic as movingexecutives from Point A to Point B, or as sophisticated as determiningmore efficient ways to handle inventory shipments, maximize capacityfor data movement and shift from on-premises routing systems tocloud-based services.

How does the example of two engineerssolving the problem of moving Googlers around the San Francisco areamorph into global logistics and data routing? The answer to thatquestion reveals Google’s resourcefulness. One problem is solved in aclever way, even if it doesn’t create a revolution comparable in impactto Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Google’s approach is to usetechniques, algorithms and engineering basics in a fresh and cleverway.

Google solutions solve the problem at hand. But that is whatI call the Google "secret sauce"—the Google solutions are picked up,recycled and repurposed. Let me give you an example.

In the Transportation Routing invention, Google Maps appears as asubsystem called Mapping Data. There’s also a subsystem that convertsdata for the particular device requesting the information. That is aResponse Formatter. Dozens of organizations have those capabilities.What sets this invention apart are the two "smart" components thatfigure out what transportation resources are needed and how to routethe shuttle to avoid the inevitable traffic jams.

How does the invention deliver those results? It’s evident from the patentapplication that computational intelligence is operating in NavigationPoint Generator and the Navigation Route Generator. Those areoff-the-shelf components like Google Maps. In fact, the napkin artschematic makes it clear that the Google engineers assembled componentslike digital LEGO blocks.

The secret sauce, however, is that the invention becomes another building block. Other Google engineers canuse the Transportation Routing invention to enhance other services.Google’s homogeneous infrastructure—remarkably consistent when compared to Amazon’s or Yahoo’s infrastructure—andsnap-in code modules make it easy for Google to create new enterpriseapplications. Select, test, snap in. Select, test, snap in. After somefiddling, Google has a logistics capability combining the best featuresof Google Maps, routing intelligence, real-time data sensitivity andflexible outputs.

Contrast that with the typical innovation cycle.Market research defines what engineers need to create. Code is written,debugged and deployed. The sales force pushes the product to customers.

Google doesn’t work that way. Its solutions can be assembled,tweaked and deployed. If customers like NJ Transit like what Googleoffers, Google can add functions and features by snapping in additionalcomponents.

The Transportation Routing invention provides aglimpse of the engineering approach that sets Google apart. Nocompany’s engineering is without flaws. But Google’s approach reducesthe likelihood of missteps and makes it cheaper and easier for Googleto change features and functions quickly. Google’s competitive weaponis its ability to create functional modules that allow engineers to build applications quickly. Failure occurs, but the cost of thatfailure is low.

Google is a threat in logistics because anenterprise solution is a happy consequence of Google’s pragmaticengineering practices. While other companies experience analysis paralysis, Google constantly surprises. 

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