CLEVELAND, Ohio — Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has seen plenty of new technologies appear and fade away over his career.
“The heart of trying to deal with technology and disruption is identifying those technologies that will last for a long time,” he told a crowd at Cleveland’s blockchain and tech conference, Blockland Solutions.
“The ones always succeed in the end are those that change convenience and economics for either a company or for consumers.”
The key piece of advice Kurian offered was especially pertinent to the Solutions crowd spending the week exploring new possibilities in blockchain and cybersecurity.
Kurian brought up the example of a smartphone. That piece of technology became widely adopted because it made life easier by bringing together a slew of functions in one device.
In a “fireside chat” on Tuesday with KeyBank Chief Innovation Officer Amy Brady, Kurian discussed topics mainly geared towards corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. Kurian’s career is rooted in computer engineering, but he now runs Google’s cloud computing services.
Cloud computing is delivering computer services over the Internet rather than through on-site hardware. Through Google Cloud, the company offers the solutions Google uses internally to people all over the world.
For example, companies can buy into the same log-on system that Google uses for a price of about $44 a month. Or a start-up can use the infrastructure behind Google Maps.
Kurian discussed Google Cloud’s goals, which come back to his key principles of convenience and economics.
In the short term, the company is trying to make it easier to adopt cloud computing, and simplifying complex technology so that more people can find tech-based answers to their problems.
The long-term goal is to explore quantum computing, which allows computers to do complex calculations which were previously out of reach. Google Cloud is looking to move quantum computing from the research space to industry.
When Brady asked Kurian to advise the leaders in the crowd about developing talent in the tech space, he said that Google employees are often given parameters in which to work, which leads to more exploration and development.
That means agreeing on the problems that need to be solved, but not specifying a way to approach them.
“One of the things we have built into our culture is broad imagination so that they can imagine solutions to problems that could never be imagined before,” Kurian said.
And it’s those solutions that can lead to technologies that stick around and change day-to-day life. So when Kurian is asked how best to learn about a technology, he views it very simply.
“The amazing part is that there is so much training, certification and other things available now. At the heart is knowing what you want to do,” he said.
“Find a project, find a problem you find compelling and go use it.”