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Google’s New Partner Program Wants to Democratize AI Through a Partner Oligopoly

by Werner Goertz  |  August 9, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Google’s new partner program has its heart in the right place, but its legs are running in the wrong direction.

At Google Next 2018, Google announced a new partner marketing program, “Google Cloud Partner Advantage”. Nina Harding, Global Director of Partner Programs & Strategy, announced some lofty goals:
– 100% of sales deals are to have a partner attached
– 100% of engagements are to be supported by partner professional services
– 100% of marketing programs are to involve partners
This could be great news for all the our clients who come to Gartner inquiring “how do I bring my domain experience into a global AI vendor ecosystem”? Well not so fast…
Everybody realizes that in order to scale AI services into all market verticals, a broad array of partners with deep domain experience and unique differentiation is needed. No single Cloud platform vendor (not even AWS!) has the breadth and scope to do this alone. Google Cloud, who still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to market penetration (1) , is realizing that developing, nurturing and supporting solution partners requires effort and commitment.
So, the idea is great – but when it comes to executing, Google Cloud Partner Advantage merely presents the market with a list of the “usual suspects”: Accenture, Deloitte, PWC … you catch my drift. You don’t democratize AI with an oligopoly of players! Harding’s background in SAP may suggest such an elitist “big boys’ club” approach. But the nascent, fragmented and universal market for AI-enabled cloud solutions requires a much inclusive approach. The democratization of AI will enable startups and SMBs to capture the wave with highly specialized domain knowledge, and Google’s strategy needs to focus on motivating players of all sizes and heritage to join the ecosystem.
The company which, for decades now, has gotten partnerships right is ARM. Its “ARM Connected Community” serves as a playground for partners large and small, from all corners of the world. It is this ecosystem, first and foremost, that drives silicon partner to pay the extra ARM royalty. The existence of a broad partner ecosystem provides an “insurance policy” that customer designs are taped out on time, and free of errors.

Google’s Cloud Partner Advantage program is still brand new and, of course, has room to grow. But out of the starting blocks, it is headed in the wrong direction and discourages aspiring ecosystem players who fear that the deck is already stacked against them.


(1) See: Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide – G00336148

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Werner Goertz
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Werner Goertz is a Research Director within Gartner's Personal Technnologies team, where he covers personal devices (smartphones, PCs/Ultrabooks, tablets/ultramobiles and wearables) and IoT. A special emphasis of his research lies in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and multimodal I/O technologies: voice/speech processing and recognition, facial recognition and eye tracking, biometrics and motion/gesture control. Read Full Bio

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