“The new battleground for brands is the creation of micro-moments for the super empowered consumer.” Photograph from Mathew Kwong on Unsplash
Culture Spotlight

Google’s secret sauce for success: “Focus on user, not competition.”

Filipinos are digitizing fast. As we begin 2019, ANCX outlines how you can benefit from the digital economy.
Ces Oreña-Drilon | Jan 02 2019

In a recent presentation before Globe’s corporate clients, Ken Lingan, Country Head of Google Philippines revealed the opportunities in the digital economy and shared the recipe of his company’s secret sauce.

Lingan said a new generation of Filipino netizens are “mobile first.” And mobile is accelerating the shift to the digital economy. The combination of young increasing incomes, more affordable data plans and falling smartphone prices have brought 65 million Filipinos online. “We don’t go online. We live online,” said Lingan. He projects that by 2025, the digital economy (covering e-commerce, travel and media) will be worth $21B with 42 million Filipino online buyers. E-commerce alone, Lingan says, will grow 20 times more and will be a $10B opportunity.

"We don't go online. We live online," says the Google Philippines head. Photograph from ABS-CBN News

While only 10 percent or 6.5 million Filipinos online do their purchases via the internet, 65 percent do their research online—for information on where to travel, where to buy goods, and read product reviews. “The digital influence is already massive,” exclaims Lingan.

The digital economy has given rise to super-empowered consumers. They are always informed, want personalized engagement and frictionless experiences. “The new battleground for brands is the creation of micro-moments for the super empowered consumer,” Lingan told his audience.

Technology is evolving quickly and artificial intelligence is giving the power of machine learning in every person’s hands—from finding the perfect shot to using a virtual assistant on mobile.

Lingan also talked about the culture of innovation that drives Google, which counts 2 billion users on its Android mobile operating system, 1.9 billion on YouTube, 1.5 billion on its web browser Chrome and billions more in its other consumer products.

“So what’s the secret sauce of Google?” is a question people repeatedly ask him.

According to Lingan, “Innovation cannot be ordained, however you can create an environment in which it will evolve organically.” The Google country head shared Google’s five principles of innovation, which may well be their secret sauce. These are:

  1. Focus on the user
  2. A healthy disregard for the impossible
  3. Innovation not instant perfection
  4. Ideas come from everywhere
  5. Data, not opinions
"Show users the magic and win the moments that matter." Photograph from Raw Pixel on Unsplash

Lingan said, “Focus on the user, not competition, and the money will flow. Show them the magic and win the moments that matter.” He cited how the ease of using the Google Search engine, for instance, won over users from yahoo. As for having a healthy disregard for the impossible, he gave this advice: “Think 10 times, not 10% and set audacious goals.” He cited Google’s “moonshot thinking” of launching technologies that aim to make the world a radically better place as an example.

And in innovating he had this to say: “If you fail, do it quickly and learn and empower teams to be nimble and make decisions. Give people freedom and they will amaze you.”

As for data, “Use it to make better decisions. Measure obsessively but encourage healthy debate.”

“Team members think their work matters and creates change,” says Lingan. Photograph from @ABS-CBNCareers on Twitter

As for the Google team, Lingan says, “Team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. They get things done on time and meet Google’s high bar for excellence, they have clear roles,” and most importantly he stresses, “Team members think their work matters and creates change.”

Amazon has officially replaced Google as the most valuable brand in the world in 2018, according to a brand consultancy survey, (Google is in third spot). Still, the secret sauce of one of the world’s most powerful digital companies to profit from the exponential growth of the digital economy in the Philippines.


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