Google's G Suite: Office Software Productivity Meets Machine Learning and AI

Are Google Cloud's Artificial Intelligence Features Right for Your Business?

Google Cloud and Google G Suite Productivity
Google Cloud and Google G Suite Productivity. (c) Getty Images / Willie B. Thomas

Google renamed its Google apps for business (or Google for Work) in fall 2016, and more technology advances for business will follow. Now known as G Suite, this familiar set of productivity programs like Docs, Slides, Sheets, and more feature innovative AI capabilities.

That's right: as in, artificial intelligence. But before you get all spooked, machine learning is likely already more prevalent in products you use than you've realized. This trend may be rolling out more obviously and pervasively with tech tools, but it is by no means new.

It's All About the Cloud: G Suite and the Google Cloud Platform

G Suite is part of a revitalized online ecosystem known as Google Cloud. Included are G Suite and a bunch of apps and service you likely use or are interested in using if you are reading this article. More precisely, this is part of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which Google describes this way on their main site for this platform:

Google Cloud Platform is part of Google Cloud, with new services offerings. Learn about our business solutions, including Google Maps, Android, Chrome, and G Suite — our suite of intelligent apps for email, documents, calendars and cloud storage.

G Suite is a unique office software suite and productivity tool just for its relationship with these services and apps mentioned, but the differences don't end there. As you might have inferred from the term "intelligent apps", the G Suite experience includes more machine learning than ever, with more likely in the future.

The cloud experience is an obvious focus for Google, as evidenced by the company's new hires to those departments, new partners, evolving client lists and projects, recently added cloud and engineering certifications, and new betas including GCP Next, and an interesting new department called Customer Reliability Engineering that puts customers in contact with cloud engineers.

Machine Learning and Intelligent Apps

Google wants its productivity apps like docs, sheets, slides and others to work for you in personalized ways. Most of us are used to that idea, though with varying degrees of comfort. It can feel creepy to think your software is tracking, observing, and prescribing solutions for you.

But most of us will also admit, it can be pretty convenient. Companies like Google are banking on the latter response overcoming the former. It's G Suite apps work intelligently, meaning they learn from you, the user.

This kind of machine learning may not be what you picture when you hear the term AI, which is often associated with sci-fi robots overtaking the earth, but it's clearly in the realm of something XX.

What Office Software AI Looks Like in G Suite

so does this mean more than other machine learning experiences you're already having in suites such as Microsoft Office?

Probably. For example, Google Calendar Smart Scheduling intelligently finds a meeting time among co-workers for you.

Another example is natural language processing is already part of this machine learning experience. When you ask questions within programs like docs, sheets, and others, you will receive feedback based on these questions. Details are unknown at the time of this writing, but this is the direction Google appears to be moving in. Other innovations include Quick Access to intelligently launch your files rather than you searching for them.

Here's additional perspective from the Official Google Cloud blog:

"Google has been driving machine intelligence research for over a decade, and the same underlying work that beat the world Go champion earlier this year is also powering more than one hundred product efforts, from instant translation to photo recognition, across Google. A year ago, Smart Reply launched, offering auto-generated replies for emails that only need a quick response. Now, more than 10% of all replies on mobile are sent using Smart Reply. The reception has been so strong that we're continuing to apply machine intelligence across our suite to solve customer problems."

You may already be used to the Explore option in Docs and Slides, which launches a Google search sidebar right into the application interface. This is another example of how Google continues to innovate the office software experience, helping you get more done on your projects.

Team Drive for G Suite

If you use Google Drive, meet Team Drive. This feature provides the option to be more collaborative than ever, using Google's apps and services. At the time of this writing, Team Drive is in testing with early adopters. Google's same blog as above describes it this way:

"Content ownership and sharing are managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between."

BigQuery for Enterprise

Database capabilities are another push forward for G Suite. Google claims these come cheaper than competitors' options. Specifically, BigQuery helps users store and access data (SQL query supported) and also offers data inquiry controls for better security including IAM (Identity and Access Management).

Big data initiatives go beyond BigQuery alone. You may also be interested in learning about Cloud Datalab, Cloud Pub/Sub, Genomics, Cloud Dataflow, Cloud Dataproc, and more.

As you continue investigating Google's G Dr. productivity suite, consider how it stacks up against the competition: Office 365 Alternative Google G Suite: More Than a New Name.