Google at its SMB-focused event in New Delhi on Wednesday announced two new initiatives for small and medium businesses in India – Digital Unlocked and My Business Websites. The event was helmed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who spoke about the power of the Internet to transform entrepreneurship. He also spoke of the importance of the Indian market with an eloquent quote, “If we solve a problem for India, we solve it for the world.”
Speaking of the need to bring Indian SMBs online, Google cited a joint study with KPMG that showed 68 percent of the 51 million SMBs in India are offline. The study attributed the lack of understanding of the benefits of digital technology and technical skills as the primary reasons for being offline. Their digitisation will dramatically increase their contribution to the Indian GDP, the study predicted.
To address this very need, Google has launched the Digital Unlocked training programme. It is meant to empower Indian SMBs with essential digital skills that the company says will “enable them to get online and start using the power of the Internet to grow their business.”
The Digital Unlocked training programme has been built “across online, offline, and mobile”, the company said. The offline training, spaced over the next three years, will be conducted in partnership with FICCI – with 5,000 workshops envisioned in 40 Indian cities. As for the online portion, Google has released 90 self-paced video tutorials that have been curated specifically for India and are available at g.co/digitalunlocked. The company says the trainings are certified by Google, Indian School of Business, and FICCI.
Coming to the mobile facet, Google’s Digital Unlocked training programme will be available in the form of a mobile app called Primer. It is already available for Android and iOS on Google Play and the App Store. The app is meant to teach digital marketing skills in an interactive manner, and has been launched in English and Hindi. The app works offline, and the company is touting upcoming support for Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.
As we mentioned, Google also unveiled My Business Websites in a preview form. It’s meant to help business have a “rich, optimised mobile digital presence”. It will be launched later this year for Google My Business users. The service lets business easily create a mobile optimised website for free. Using data provided by business alongside photos from Google Maps, the service will create template, editable websites. The service will be available in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam.
Speaking at the event, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “The Internet is a powerful equaliser and we are motivated to bring the benefits of information and technology to as many people as possible. Building for everyone and making it available in the hands of as many people is at the heart and core of what we do. And we do this by investing in open ecosystems.”
Referring to Indian SMBs, Pichai added, “the Internet and digital technology will be an engine of growth for the Indian economy. Today, anyone can become an entrepreneur, a developer, or a creator, but it is important that they have the right tools and skills to digitise. We believe it is important for us to invest in training and equipping these individuals and small businesses to accelerate their journey of growth.”