Asia Pacific Blog
Google and the Internet from .in to .au
Revealing Ocean Change: The Future
Friday, June 26, 2015
Editors’ note: This is the last post in a series of guest entries by members of the
XL Catlin Seaview Survey
team, a group dedicated to recording, researching, and revealing the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic imagery.
The XL Catlin Seaview Survey has made underwater imagery available
to over a billion monthly users of Google Street View
99.9% of people don’t dive underwater
so this is the only way for them to see these sights for themselves. But our mission lies beyond producing pretty pictures. The 750,000 panoramic images we’ve taken in 26 countries allows us to track change underwater - a change occurring faster than the ocean has seen in millions of years. We want people to feel that change by seeing it.
The SVII camera surveying bleached corals in the waters off Bermuda
Ocean change is as important as climate change, even if people aren’t aware of it. The ocean is the reason why we have life on Earth. Life evolved from it; it controls the weather; it determines how much water we have to drink;
it produces 50% of the oxygen we breathe
. And yet the ocean hasn’t even made it onto the main agenda of the climate-change discussions in Paris this year – which is surprising,
as 93% of climate change heat is being absorbed by the ocean
and is where the momentum of climate change is hidden from view.
The Great Barrier Reef has been severely hit by storms in recent years - 4 category 5 cyclones in the last 3 years.
These before and after images show the devastation caused by just one of these cyclones.
Fortunately we have a new weapon in the fight to win the public’s attention – Virtual Reality. We feel that going into next year virtual-reality products like Google Cardboard or Google’s Expeditions will help people see ocean change. They will see the Great Barrier Reef being smashed by a huge increase in high intensity cyclones and reefs that are literally turning white from the heat in locations such as American Samoa. The media, politician, business leaders, schools and the general public no longer have to rely on the word of diving enthusiasts about how sad these sights are, they will be be able to see and experience them for themselves. We’re looking forward to taking ocean change Virtual Reality to events such as Climate Week in New York in September and the climate talks in Paris in December before rolling out a global education program next year.
Posted by Richard Vevers, Executive Project Director of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, sponsored by speciality insurance company XL Catlin.
Manila Reborn: Filipino history goes online with the Cultural Institute
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
The following is a guest post from the Filipinas Heritage Library
Today marks the city of Manila’s
444th Foundation Day
. With the addition of 54 images from the
Filipinas Heritage Library
Google Cultural Institute
, you can now virtually explore the extraordinary history of this bustling city.
” commemorates the 70th anniversary of
the Battle for Manila
— a 21-day combat between the joint Filipino and American forces and the Japanese Imperial Army that saw about 100,000 lives lost and much of the city destroyed — and illustrates the decades-long process of rebuilding the city.
“Manila Reborn” seeks to explore how World War II transformed not only the city’s geography, but a way of life and a people’s worldview. The exhibit includes prewar and postwar photos from pioneering street photographer
and pictures from the US Army collection showing the Battle for Manila and the city it left in its wake.
Photos from 1931 and 1945 show the Battle of Manila's devastation.
Already in the 1750s Manila was described as the "Pearl of the Orient." Divided by the Pasig River, it mixed Asian, European, and American cultural influences.
Manila took 300 years to build, but was devastated in the 21 days of the Battle for Manila. The business district was completely razed:
The Legislative Building c.1945 (left) and 2015 (right)
Bureau of Posts Building
in 1945 (left) and c. 1960 (right)
“Manila Reborn," which includes photos from John Tewell's collection, joins 1,400 rare and important images
to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Android One says မင်္ဂလာပါ to Myanmar
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
If you live in Myanmar and use the Internet, chances are you do so with a smartphone. In fact, if you’re chatting with friends, catching up on the news, snapping a selfie, shooting a video, or sharing the latest via social media, you’re probably using a smartphone for all of those things, too. As so many others do around the world, the people of Myanmar love the functionality and freedom that a smartphone provides.
Since they’re such an important part of our lives, the experience of a smartphone matters a lot. Last year, Google
the Android One program to help put high-quality, up-to-date devices into the hands of as many people as possible. Following the launch in India nine months ago, Android One has expanded to six additional countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey
and today, we’re excited to add Myanmar to that list, working in partnership with Cherry Mobile. That makes eight.
The Cherry Mobile One, like all Android One phones, combines high-quality hardware that’s been tested by Google with the latest version of Android (Lollipop 5.1.1) and all of the features that come with it. These include Google’s new Material Design interface, up to 2x better performance, a battery-saver feature, smarter notifications, and quick access to data controls. Android One phones will also automatically receive an update to the next version of Android soon after it is released.
Starting June 26, the Cherry Mobile One will be available for purchase through retail stores across Myanmar, with prices starting at Ks109,000.
We hope the arrival of Android One helps put great smartphones into the hands of more people across Myanmar, and we look forward to working with our partners to launch more devices in more countries over the coming months.
Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management
အသင်ဟာ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံမှာနေပြီး အင်တာနက်အသုံးပြုတယ်ဆိုရင် စမတ်ဖုန်း သုံးတာ ဖြစ်ဖို့များပါတယ်။ တစ်နည်းအားဖြင့် သူငယ်ချင်းတွေနဲ့ ချတ်တာ ဖြစ်စေ၊ သတင်းဖတ်တာ ဖြစ်စေ၊ ဆယ်လ်ဖီ ရိုက်တာ ဖြစ်စေ၊ ဗီဒီယိုရိုက်တာ ဖြစ်စေ၊ ဆိုရှယ်မီဒီယာများတွင် အသစ်အဆန်းများ မျှဝေတာ ဖြစ်စေ စမတ်ဖုန်းကို သုံးပြီးလုပ်တာ ဖြစ်ပါလိမ့်မယ်။ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံသားများလည်း ကမ္ဘာ့အဝှမ်းက အခြားသူများကဲ့သို့ စမတ်ဖုန်းတွေရဲ့ လွတ်လပ်မှုနှင့် အသုံးဝင်မှုကို ကြိုက်နှစ်သက်ကြမှာပါ။
စမတ်ဖုန်းတွေဟာ ကျွန်တော်တို့ဘဝတွေရဲ့ တစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်းမို့လို့ စမတ်ဖုန်းသုံးရတဲ့ အတွေ့အကြုံဟာ အင်မတန် အရေးပါပါတယ်။ မနှစ်ကစ၍ Google အနေဖြင့် လူတကာရဲ့ လက်ထဲကို အရည်အသွေးကောင်းမွန်ပြီး ဆန်းသစ်တဲ့ ဖုန်းတွေကို ထည့်ပေးဖို့ Android One ပရိုဂရမ်ကို စတင်ခဲ့ပါတယ်။ အိန္ဒိယမှာ ပထမဆုံး စတင်ဖြန့်ချိခဲ့ပြီး ကိုးလအကြာတွင် ဘင်္ဂလားဒေရှ့်၊ နီပေါ်၊ သီရိလင်္ကာ၊ အင်ဒိုနီးရှား၊ ဖိလစ်ပိုင်နှင့် တူရကီ ခြောက်နိုင်ငံတွင် ထပ်မံဖြန့်ချိခဲ့ပါတယ်။ ယနေ့မှာတော့ ကျွန်တော်တို့ ချယ်ရီမိုဘိုင်းနှင့် ပူးပေါင်းဆောင်ရွက်ပြီး Android One ရရှိနိုင်သော နိုင်ငံများ စာရင်းတွင် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံကို ထည့်နိုင်ပြီဖြစ်လို့ အားရမိပါတယ်။
ချယ်ရီမိုဘိုင်းဝမ်းဟာဆိုလျင် အခြားသော Android One ဖုန်းများနည်းတူ Google ကိုယ်တိုင် စမ်းသပ်ထားသော နောက်ဆုံးထွက် Android ဗားရှင်း (Lollipop 5.1.1) ရဲ့ စွမ်းဆောင်ရည် အစုံအလင် ပါဝင်ပြီး အရည်အသွေး ကောင်းမွန်သည့် ဟာဒ့်ဝဲအစိတ်အပိုင်းများ ပါဝင်ပါတယ်။ စွမ်းဆောင်ရည် အသစ်များထဲတွင် Google ရဲ့ Material မြင်ကွင်း ဒီဇိုင်းဆန်း၊ ၂ဆ ပိုကောင်းသော စွမ်းဆောင်ရည်၊ ဖုန်းဘက္ထရီ ပိုမို ချွေတာနိုင်ခြင်း၊ ပိုမို တိကျတဲ့ အသိပေးချက်များ စသည်တို့ ပါဝင်ပါတယ်။ ထို့ပြင် Android One ဖုန်းတွေဟာ နောင် Android ဗားရှင်းအသစ် ထွက်ရှိလျှင်လည်း ယင်းဗားရှင်းသစ်များကို အလိုလို ရရှိသွားမှာ ဖြစ်ပါတယ်။
ဇွန်လ ၂၆ ရက်နေ့မှစပြီး ချယ်ရီမိုဘိုင်းဝမ်းကို မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ အနှံ့ရှိ ဖုန်းအရောင်းဆိုင်တွေမှာ ကျပ်ငွေ ၁၀၉,၀၀၀ နဲ့ ဝယ်ယူနိုင်ပါပြီ။
Android One ရောက်ရှိလာခြင်းနဲ့အတူ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံအဝှမ်းရှိ လူများရဲ့ လက်ထဲကို ကောင်းမွန်သော စမတ်ဖုန်းများကို ထည့်ပေးနိုင်မယ်လို့ ကျွန်တော်တို့ မျှော်လင့်ပါတယ်။ ရှေ့လများမှာလည်း ကျွန်တော်တို့ရဲ့ ပါတနာများနှင့်အတူ အခြားနိုင်ငံများမှာလည်း Android One ဖုန်းများကို ဖြန့်ချိထုတ်ဝေနိုင်ဖို့ ဆက်လက် ကြိုးစားသွားပါမယ်။
Mobile First World
Consumers in Asia live in the mobile-first “micro-moment”
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
According to new research from Google’s
, Asia no longer “goes online,” it lives online. More than any other region, Asia’s smartphone users are more apt to shop online, watch videos, and solve most problems with a smartphone, rather than a PC. These findings have big implications for brands and marketers.
cites research showing that smartphone owners reach for their devices an estimated 150 times a day. Often it’s for basic tasks like checking the time, or seeing what friends are up to on social media. But then there are those moments that really matter: the I want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments.
We call these “micro-moments,” and they’re absolutely key to the Asian Internet. These are times when people need to learn, discover, watch, find, or buy something, and reflexively turn to the closest device—usually a smartphone—to act on that need. The brands that will win in this new era of fast choices are those that have given consumers a compelling reason to choose them here and now. Asia especially will be the proving ground for how brands fare on capturing hearts and minds on mobile.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the
research. Here are our top five Asia trends:
Asia is a global leader in mobile
Asia has 5 out of the global top 10 markets when it comes to smartphone penetration, including Singapore (#2) at 88%, followed by South Korea (83%) and Hong Kong (79%)
Asia is a global leader in mobile. Asia has 5 out of the top 10 markets when it comes to smartphone penetration.
Mobile is Asia’s primary computing platform
Most of the countries in the world where smartphone adoption is higher than PC adoption are in Asia. These include markets such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
More activities happen on smartphones in Asia than the West
Smartphone owners in Asia use their phones for searching, shopping, and maps more often than their Western counterparts. For instance, 31% of Thai smartphone owners shop on their phones — a rate far exceeding that of the US (10%) or UK (7%).
Asia has more I-want-to-do moments than the West
In the Philippines, 55% of smartphone users watch online videos to learn something new: everything from how to curl their hair, to fixing a bike, or baking a cake. That number is just 22% in the US.
Asia has more I-want-to-buy moments than the West
In South Korea, 51% of online consumers compared products on a smartphone prior to a purchase, compared to 36% in the US.
For years, marketers have made predictions about the shift to mobile, but until now, it’s been hard to see what it might mean in practice. Finally, in Asia, we can see the implications of all the power that mobile has put in consumers’ pockets — and what this means for the mobile future that awaits the rest of the world.
Editor’s note: This is just a short sample of some of the insights from an
by Karim Temsamani, VP Google Asia Pacific, published on Asia-Pacific’s
Think with Google
The hard science that comes from underwater panoramas
Friday, June 12, 2015
Editors’ note: This is the second post in a series of guest entries by members of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team, a group dedicated to recording, researching, and revealing the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic imagery.
For researchers at
XL Catlin Seaview Survey
, the brilliant blues and reds of Asia’s
rich coral reefs on Google Maps
are more than pretty photographs. They’re scientific records, capturing the health and condition of coral reefs and allowing scientists to track their changes.
As we said
in our previous blogpost
, Asia is home to some of the world’s most stunning marine and coral ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast, and the Philippines’ Tubbataha Natural Marine Park. Reefs generally fall into two kinds: shallow and deep reefs, each one requiring different imagery-collection methods.
Our Shallow Reef Team collects imagery of coral that rest about 10 to 12 meters under the sea. This imagery can provide a highly detailed baseline image for monitoring coral health over time. The fact that these panoramas are pinned to exact GPS locations makes it easy for anyone to visit that site and assess change.
Baseline image collected by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey showing automated analysis
The Deep Reef Team, on the other hand, are specialist divers who dive and collect imagery from up to and beyond 100m depths, using Remotely Operated Vehicles. The team collects coral samples from the deep reef to assess biodiversity in these little-explored areas and uses genetic tools to examine how corals living in shallow and deep waters may be related to each other.
The XL Catlin Seaview Survey Deep Reef Team deploying the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)
The XL Catlin Seaview Survey Deep Reef Team reviewing coral samples
collected on the Great Barrier Reef expedition
Together, these two teams have collected more than 700,000 panoramas since 2012. After the collections, we analyze the images to understand the reef’s ecology and to make decisions about where to focus conservation efforts. Analysis used to be slow, painstaking work, but thanks to our partnership with
Scripps Institution at UC San Diego
we now use computers — based on methods similar to facial recognition technology — and have increased the speed of our work 10-30x. Thirty years of manual work can now be processed in a year.
Example of data collected from Tubbataha Natural Marine Park, Philippines,
available in the XL Catlin Global Reef Record
Already, more than 300,000 of the images collected are available online, enabling scientists around the world to better understand changes to coral reefs and related marine environments.
By bringing this breadth of high-quality underwater imagery online, we hope to help scientists, policy makers, and the public to see and understand the issues facing coral reefs, and to work out what needs to be done to best protect reefs now and in the future.
Posted by Dr David Harris, Research and Special Projects Manager, Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Tioman Island gets the Street View four-wheel drive treatment
Thursday, June 11, 2015
On World Ocean Day on June 8, 2015, Google Malaysia again partnered with the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) on their conservation efforts to capture coastal and inland imagery of Malaysia. This time, we shot imagery of Pulau Tioman, a stunning island famed for its beaches, coral reefs, and natural wildlife (and for being one of the filming locations for the 1958 classic musical, South Pacific).
using a kayak
as we did on the recent ‘
Paddle for Nature
’ expedition, we strapped the Street View cameras onto a fierce-looking all-terrain vehicle. This marks the first time we have ever put Street View Trekker onto a vehicle of this sort.
Vroom, vroom: Trekker on ATV revs around Tioman Island; a marine biologist speaks to students of Tekek Village public school
We gave the island’s locals a glimpse of this special ATV, and invited students from the Tekek Village public school to get up close and personal with the Street View set-up. Aside from our showcase, they attended a talk on coral conservation by two marine biologists from University Malaya, and also participated in a beach auditing activity.
Stay tuned for when we’re ready to unveil the imagery on Google Maps!
Posted by Zeffri Yusof, Communications Manager, Google Malaysia
Jason Chen on YouTube fans in Singapore and Thailand
Friday, June 5, 2015
This post is part of a regular series of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who use the Internet to create, connect and grow.
, a YouTube creator based in California., shares some highlights from his trips to Singapore and Thailand with YouTube FanFest.
How would you describe your channel in a sentence?
A land where music is both language blind and colorblind. Lol.
You started your channel nearly a decade ago in 2006. What was the inspiration that drove you to start uploading and why did you choose YouTube?
I started my YouTube channel in 2006, but didn't really post anything until 2008. My inspiration to start uploading onto YouTube was...fascination. It blew my mind that people were becoming overnight celebrities by posting videos shot on webcams in their dorm rooms. The barrier to entry was a laptop! I had one, so I put videos up for fun and wanted to see what would happen.
What was your breakthrough moment?
I feel like I could give many answers for this question, but I'll say it's the moment I stopped doing it for "fun." Things were very different in 2010, there wasn't a plethora of successful YouTuber careers like there is now. I grew up in a very traditional Asian household and got a job as an accountant during the peak of unemployment, so my decision to try to pursue music as a career was, in my mind, my breakthrough moment.
How has your community of fans evolved over the years?
I'd say it's branching out more and more toward Asia. Initially it was a lot of high school kids (it probably still is), but as YouTube's popularity spread into Southeast Asia I've definitely noticed significant spikes in fans out there.
Tell us about how you interact with fans. Any memorable fan meeting moments that you can share with us?
I'm a chameleon when it comes to interacting with fans. I feed off of their energy levels and attitude. Some people are super excited and want to chat, and some are quiet and just want a picture. I also have to be cautious of religious/cultural boundaries when it comes to interacting with fans. My ultimate goal is to make them feel comfortable! All fan moments are memorable in their own way, but what really gets to me is a loyal fan. This one girl I met in Malaysia had polaroids from every show she had watched me at, and she came out to every single show!
This was your first time joining YouTube FanFest and you performed at both Singapore and Thailand shows within a few days of each other. What did it feel like to be on stage in front of fans from these two countries for the first time?
Exciting! It's always such a rush when I travel to a new place for the first time. It was also a really different dynamic because I had the opportunity to share the stage with so many other international and local YouTubers. I was blown away, the response I got really exceeded my expectations. Sometimes things feel stagnant when I'm stuck in a studio, doing covers with writer's block. Events like these really rejuvenate me and give me a sense of accomplishment. Thanks YouTube and Branded!
What’s different about your fans in Asia?
As a whole they're way more excited and enthusiastic. The best crowds to perform to are always out in Asia (at least in my experience). And I feed off of their energy so I perform better as well!
That's the billion-dollar question. For now, I’m trying to do more Chinese content so I can do more stuff out in Asia. And obviously continuing to write songs for the next album and planning for music videos and collaborations. Hopefully some will be with local creators I met abroad this time around ;)
Helping Asian Nonprofits reach new donors and work smarter using the web
Thursday, June 4, 2015
is a palliative care organization for cancer patients based in Delhi, India. For almost two decades they have provided home care for thousands of cancer patients in and around India’s capital, as well as counseling services for patients and their caregivers. Just like any company, nonprofits like CanSupport need to have a reliable and scalable email and work apps solution. But unlike other companies, nonprofits don’t have a lot of time or money to spend on expensive or complex enterprise software.
We’re happy to announce that today we’re expanding our Google for Nonprofits program to ten new Asian countries today:
. In partnership with
, Google for Nonprofits is now available in these countries, servicing thousands of organizations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Nonprofits can now apply to join the program at http://www.google.com/nonprofits/join. Once nonprofits register, they will have access to a suite of free Google products and tools, including:
Google Ad Grants:
Free AdWords advertising to promote their website on Google through keyword targeting.
Google Apps for Nonprofit:
A free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more.
YouTube Nonprofit Program:
Build their online presence with YouTube and overlay cards on their videos that link directly to their website.
Using the momentum that has been established by organizations such as CanSupport, we can’t wait to continue partnering with organizations across Asia. We hope these tools can help nonprofits find new donors and volunteers, work efficiently, and get supporters to take action.
As Sindhu George, Head of Resource Mobilisation at CanSupport said, "Google Apps enables us to work on the go, while being reassured about our data security.” We can’t wait to see the good that comes out of these partnerships in Asia.
by Aditya Mahesh, Product Marketing Manager, Google for Nonprofits
Dive in to the heart of the Coral Triangle in Asia, home of the richest coral reefs on Earth
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Editors note: This post is the first in a series of guest entries by members of the
XL Catlin Seaview Survey
team, a group dedicated to recording and revealing the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic imagery. These posts will take you behind the scenes of the project and introduce you to the people taking these images.
Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s top marine biodiversity hotspots. To celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, we’ve worked with Google to
our largest ever collection of underwater imagery on Google Maps, featuring 360-degree virtual dives from
20 reefs across the region
, including the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Australia and American Samoa.
Here’s a look at the virtual dive locations captured by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team
Come take a closer look at how we carry out these underwater surveys by going behind-the-scenes on our dive at Indonesia’s Bunaken National Park, the heart of the Coral Triangle. Often called the “underwater Amazon,” the Coral Triangle is a 5.7 million square kilometer area that spans from the Philippines in the north, down to Indonesia and as far as the Solomon Islands in the east. This giant triangle is also home to 76% of known coral species and over 3,000 species of fish.
The SVII camera system surveys the remarkable reefscapes of the Coral Triangle (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
Every dive begins with getting our divers rigged up and the 60kg camera off our research boat Makarena and into the water. The SVII is a revolutionary camera system that creates high-resolution 360-degree images of the underwater environment using technology similar to Google Street View. By attaching SVII to an underwater scooter, we can cover distances of up to two kilometers in a single dive, taking about 3,000 images each time.
We’ve also added instruments to this camera set-up, including a depth transponder (altimeter) so that we can read the altitude of the camera from the sea floor, which allows us to gather standardized scientific information at a volume and scale which was previously unattainable to the marine science community.
Deploying the SVII camera in the waters off Manado (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
We’ve seen large schools with hundreds of reef fish such as
(Chaedotontidae spp) or
red toothed triggerfish
(Odonus niger) cascade down the healthy reef slope. On this particular day, we were lucky enough to be greeted by a dolphin and a free swimming banded sea snake cruising along of one Bunaken Islands’ epic undersea walls.
XL Catlin Seaview divers explore underwater marine life at Bunaken Islands
While we could easily spend all day amongst the depths and colors of the Coral Triangle’s reefs, we try to complete our expeditions as early as possible to get started on downloading and processing the images. We’ll tell you more about the data we gather from these 360-degree photos in upcoming posts, but for now, we hope this new underwater imagery available on the
XL Catlin Global Reef Record
will give anyone with an Internet connection the ability to immerse themselves in stunning coral reefs like never before.
Posted by Dominic Bryant, XL Catlin Oceans Scholar and PhD Candidate at the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland
Growing our data center in Singapore
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
When we started building our first data centers in Asia back in 2011, we knew we were going to have to work hard and fast to keep up with the region’s growth. Even then, Asia surprised us.
In the year and a half since our
first data center in Southeast Asia came online
in Singapore, more than
Singaporeans got online for the first time, the smartphone penetration rate grew from
72% to 85%
, and the majority of Singaporeans signing up for new home Internet access got connected with speeds exceeding
And that’s just Singapore. So, it’s time to get building, again.
On a plot of land about the same size as and just next to our current site, we’re working on a second, larger, multilevel data center. We hope to start bringing it online in mid-2017, and it will look something like this (or not, this is just a non-final artist’s rendering, we’re still tinkering):
This expansion takes our long-term investment in our Singapore data center to USD 500 million and our long-term investment in data centers in Asia as a whole to over USD 1 billion.
This new facility will be built on the same principles as the “old” one. It will be one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly sites in Asia, using 100% recycled water for its critical operations (i.e. just about everything other than drinking water). It will provide jobs for a small team of full time staff, as well as a number of contractors (we’re
now!). And we’ll continue to work with the community through community programs and our bi-annual grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 – if you run an NGO, or have a great idea for a local partnership with us, please
let us know
We couldn’t be happier to be literally building on Southeast Asia’s extraordinary growth (again).
Posted by Joe Kava, Vice President of Data Centers
What if? How companies foster a culture of innovation
Monday, June 1, 2015
Editor’s note: Last week Frederik G. Pferdt, Head of Innovation and Creativity Programs at Google, came to Australia, Korea, Japan, and Singapore to give a few talks on how to foster a culture of innovation amongst large organizations. Below is his guest post outlining his speech’s main points.
Frederik Pferdt giving a talk on creativity at Google Korea
Innovators have the audacity to ask a seemingly simple—but powerful—question:
? In the business world, asking what if can be transformative. What if we could replace the horse and buggy with a machine? What if we could have all the books in the world available in our pockets? What if we could run a powerful car using electricity? What if a car could drive itself—or fly?
How do we get more people in organizations in the ‘what if’ mindframe? There is no single model of innovation and it cannot be forced. But companies can foster a culture so that people within it are given the freedom to “play” and be curious, while exploring new ways of doing things. And this open, experimental culture is by no means limited to American or Western companies.
In Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, I co-founded a space called the Garage that is a tinkering, prototyping space open to all Googlers at any time. The idea is to put teams in a place that encourages experimentation and creativity, while minimizing the steps to creating a prototype, whether it be software, hardware, or an idea. We put the “wheels” on the Garage this past week when we brought the Garage’s core training program,
, on the road in Asia.
Throughout my time here in Asia, I was incredibly surprised to see how people can tap their creativity and solve complex problems when they are given the right environment and surrounded by a diverse group of people. One of my exercises aimed at encouraging people to adopt a beginner’s mindset is to have people draw a sketch of the person next to them. Normally, adults hem and haw about about how unprofessional their drawings are. Interestingly enough, though, I found that Koreans, Japanese, and Singaporeans weren't embarrassed about their drawings in the least—in fact, they were were very proud of them. This boldness is a good sign to me that far from being risk-averse, or stuck in traditional modes of thinking, Asian leaders are ready to embrace innovation, and ask—what if?
I was invited to lead discussions with ministers, editors, business leaders to talk frankly about how they might tackle the challenges they face. In Japan for instance, we discussed developing a global start-up ecosystem with the Ministry of Economy, and explored why diversity is necessary for innovation and creativity with fifty women leaders. At the University of Tokyo, I met editors who wanted to rethink newspapers for a digital world, designing new solutions for free expression and the free flow of information.
Although there are certainly no simple solutions to challenges these organizations face, one step forward is adopting a framework of innovation in the corporate culture. At Google, four features of our culture empower our employees to ask and act on
a strong mission, transparency, ensuring everyone has a voice and demonstrating an optimistic attitude
—all within a wider environment of trust and playfulness.
First, a strong mission gives meaning and motivates employees. Each organization will have a different mission, but the desire to make meaning is inherent in all of us. At Google, through an annual survey we conduct with all employees, called Googlegeist, we gauge whether people continue to find meaning in our mission and ensure that people continue to love the work they're doing.
Second, transparency builds trust. A transparent culture where information is accessible by employees and where information is shared freely can lead to much higher engagement. Within Google we share almost everything. This means an engineer fresh from university has access to the same code and systems as our senior product managers. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so an open culture means the most people are looking at any one area or problem.
Third, giving employees a voice can empower them to ask questions and raise concerns. This gives rise to better ideas, and reinforces the idea that everyone can participate. Perhaps most importantly, it gives leadership deep insights into what’s on people’s minds. At Google, we have a weekly all-company meeting with our founders and senior leaders where employees are encouraged to ask questions and challenge current thinking.
Finally, demonstrating an optimistic attitude about the future and building on each others ideas to grow them bigger, while experimenting your way forward helps to take responsibility to shape the future. A “yes, and” attitude builds community, generates positive energy, drives momentum, and stimulates creativity. This attitude is a little thing that actually can make a big difference. Having a “yes, and” attitude where people take risks by stepping in and getting involved in something is something you can practice to foster a culture of pushing the boundaries.
Having an open and transparent culture by default may well be one of the most cost effective thing a leader can do: culture costs nothing, but it needs to be nurtured with a creative and passionate workforce. This is also why hiring the right people is the most important thing a manager can do. If you find smart and creative people who are passionate about a mission, demonstrate an optimistic attitude about the future and you treat them like adults while trusting them to do the right thing, they actually will.
Education and research
Mobile First World
Revealing Ocean Change: The Future
Manila Reborn: Filipino history goes online with t...
Android One says မင်္ဂလာပါ to Myanmar
Consumers in Asia live in the mobile-first “micro-...
The hard science that comes from underwater panora...
Tioman Island gets the Street View four-wheel driv...
Jason Chen on YouTube fans in Singapore and Thaila...
Helping Asian Nonprofits reach new donors and work...
Dive in to the heart of the Coral Triangle in Asia...
Growing our data center in Singapore
What if? How companies foster a culture of innovat...
Official Google Blog
Public Policy Blog
Across Asia Pacific