Google Company — now renamed to Alphabet — started as an academic project on Stanford University exactly 20 years ago. After these two decades Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the students, who developed BackRub search engine that became the foundation for Google.com,
are leading one of the biggest companies in the world (listed #40 on Fortune 500 and #1 on the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For). How did they manage to do that? What was their key to success, with which Google became the main player in the IT industry?
The answer is pretty simple: openness. Almost everything Google did — and still does — was based on open and free access. This approach allowed quick embracing of Google’s works, like Android mobile system, while the business was always in paid search results
optimization and advertising. There are company’s commercial products as well, such as enterprise mail systems, customized search engines and so on, but the core services and products—Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Translate,
and Android, of course—are free and open to developers through APIs and SDKs.
Now, lets imagine Google enters the financial industry or starts as such company. How would banking environment look today? First of all, it wouldn’t be that closed and expensive for its clients. Google with its “don’t do evil” motto would start offering
financial services that would be as open and free as its current products. It means that the company would provide APIs to its banking solutions, giving developers tools, which would allow access to the information hosted by the service and to the features
that could be used elsewhere in the web. Many third parties could then create their own innovative products based on Google’s engine, thus increasing the number of users and enabling wider adoption of the company’s product. It’s a win-win situation, which
already proved itself with the Google’s current offer for the Internet.
Of course, the service would be free, since Google would make profits on corporate versions of its product, advertising, big data mining and analysis, partnerships and probably other ways of making money on the information the company would acquire with
This is so much different from what we see today: banks build fortresses around their services, making everything closed and proprietary. They charge fees for almost everything, although they are not poor companies running on losses. They use old-fashioned
tools and interfaces, which often are not user friendly, intuitive, nor elegant. Their procedures are ineffective, time-consuming and costly, but this mainly results from regulations imposed on banking sector.However, even these procedures can be implemented
with smooth user experience—it’s just a matter of innovative approach and usage of tools already present on the market. Unfortunately, because of their corporate, stiff structure, banks are not as creative and agile as Internet companies like Google. Even
though the latter is a huge company itself.
We can only speculate how the financial world would look like, if it was driven by innovators such as Google. Nevertheless, based on the company’s philosophy and the today’s financial market, it’s safe to say it would be definitely better for customers,
with cheaper and more user-friendly products tailored for every need. The good news is, this change is going to happen anyway, with or without Google in this industry.