Cloud computing took off in the U.S. in 2000, and now more than 80 percent of U.S. companies1 do business in the cloud. But it’s still nascent in Brazil, where only 41 percent of Brazilian companies2 are using cloud computing. That’s rapidly changing. Here, Alessandro Leal, business director for Google for Work in Brazil, shares his perspective on the changing technology landscape in Brazil and the importance of understanding customers’ pain points.
Q: What’s your take on the tech industry in Brazil?
We’ve come a long way in the past five years. Now people know about cloud computing and the value it adds, and CIOs say cloud computing is one of their top five priorities. But switching to cloud computing isn’t simply about switching from one tool to another. It’s about introducing a new way of working. The question isn’t if cloud computing will take off in Brazil; it’s when and how.
Brazilian companies are driven to innovate, be creative and increase productivity, and they understand technology can help. They’re introducing new initiatives to support digital entrepreneurs, like coworking spaces for startups and educational opportunities for entrepreneurs. This era of digital transformation is causing new companies like Uber or Airbnb to emerge practically overnight and completely transform their industries.
These successful startups rely on cloud computing because it allows them to move and evolve quickly, sustain competitive advantage and ultimately reap a higher bottom line. Agility is vital for business success.
Many consumers are using the latest technology in their personal lives, but companies haven’t fully embraced user-friendly technology in the enterprise. They’re starting to see that every employee is a consumer outside the company, and using different tools at work will increase business performance. More than five million companies have moved to Google Apps for Work and made the choice to become digital businesses to enable their employees to innovate faster and stay competitive.
Q: Some companies might be concerned about shadow IT. What suggestions do you have for them about managing consumer-facing software inside the company?
In today’s workplace, devices and applications for consumers and businesses are virtually interchangeable. Some studies show that 79 percent of companies have employees who use file-sharing and collaboration solutions with or without IT approval. It’s time for companies to see that shadow IT isn’t the enemy. It’s a consequence of employees wanting to work better and use the tools they’re accustomed to in their personal lives.
Instead of blocking applications and devices, IT leaders should teach employees how to safely use these tools and provide them with more useful and efficient processes for working. They should support employee initiatives to use productivity tools, assess the applications and services employees use, and have open discussions with senior leadership about the impact, risk and opportunity of shadow IT. Companies no longer have to choose between security and productivity. They can choose solutions that meet employees’ needs and minimize business risk.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time at Google?
During my four and a half years working with the ads team, I learned the importance of listening to customers and understanding their objectives and pain points. I talked with CMOs, CFOs and CIOs about their goals. When they said they wanted their employees to be productive and think creatively, I painted a picture for them: Imagine if employees used the same tools they use in their personal lives for work. They would be much more driven to innovate and pursue their full potential.
Alessandro and his team in Sao Paulo
By knowing a customer’s pain points, I’m able to become a trusted advisor and show them how Google Apps for Work can solve their problems. We’re doing more than selling software; we’re building relationships and changing the way people work. Earlier this year, I met one of my former customers for lunch. He wanted to hear my opinion on a new long-distance education course he’s launching. He still considers me a strategic advisor because I worked with him to address and solve his problems.
Q: Can you share an example of a time you listened to a customer’s pain points and then introduced cloud computing as a solution that transformed the company?
When Whirlpool came to us several months ago, its business leaders said they wanted to empower their employees to collaborate and communicate faster and more effectively. With this vision and their current pain points in mind, we suggested cloud collaboration as a solution. Over the past couple of months, Whirlpool has experienced significant positive change as a result of using Google Apps for Work. Whirlpool is using Google’s Transformation Labs, in which employees from several departments collaborate and brainstorm new ways to improve their day-to-day lives using Google Apps for Work. Whirlpool is now leaner, faster and more globally-enabled than ever before.
Q: Your role at Google for Work is about inspiring companies to evolve the way they work. What inspires you?
My wife and kids inspire me to work hard and innovate. They support my new endeavors and are always encouraging me to look at things with a new lens. My kids, Mariana and Leonardo, aren’t afraid of failing. They pursue new opportunities with confidence and enthusiasm. They want to improve the world and make a global impact. Mariana wants to be a doctor, so she can cure people, and Leonardo wants to be an engineer and build things to help low-income kids. To me, this is inspiring.
Alessandro Leal, Business Director Brazil, Google for Work