Data Analytics

Google execs predict GenAI could be major windfall for Canada

If used in a responsible way, generative AI (GenAI) represents a technology shift and breakthrough not witnessed since the advent of the mobile phone, says Sam Sebastian, vice president and general manager for Google Cloud Canada.

Speaking at a recent media roundtable, Sebastian and other company executives discussed the many benefits the technology will have, not only on organizations, but for Canada as a whole. The company’s latest Economic Impact Report, released late last month, found that GenAI has the potential to increase the nation’s economy by $210 billion.

As for the comparison between it and a mobile phone, he said, “when all of a sudden users had a supercomputer in their pocket – it was also a phone, it was also a camera, it was also a map – that changed everything that consumers and businesses could do. The same thing is happening with GenAI, and it is unprecedented. It is going to transform how we interact with information and how businesses interact with each other.”

In a blog that highlighted the report’s findings, Sabrina Geremia, country managing director of Google Canada, said that as the company “celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we’re looking ahead to the next big shift for technology, which brings us to AI.

“Of course, Google’s core platforms have long been powered by AI. We were one of the first companies to use machine learning in our products and we became an “AI first” company in 2015. This technology offers radical potential for exponential growth, and Google is working to help Canada fully realize AI’s economic potential.”

Sebastian said Canada “has long been the leader in AI, Toronto has the largest concentration of AI startups of anywhere in the world. Montreal has the largest concentration of AI researchers of anywhere in the world. And Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. But we have to go after it, we have to be bold, we have to be responsible along the way.

“But I think it is a huge opportunity for this country. Because, number one, we are well positioned. And number two, the technology is here. We are 18th in productivity, Canada is, around the world. And that trend is not our friend. This is a huge opportunity to get us back leading on a global stage.”

As for what Canadian organizations want and need with GenAI, Craig Alleva, director of Google Cloud Customer Engineering Canada, said any discussion revolves around five key areas: “How do they use that technology to better understand their customers and consumers and others, and how to engage them better.

“They’re trying to find ways to attract and retain talent in Canada and within their organization using that tech, they are looking at ways to optimize the way they operate. They are also looking at ways of how to better collaborate, internally amongst themselves and their own employees, and third parties that they work with. And then lastly, trying to improve efficiencies and profitability for the organization.”

Alleva outlined three examples of GenAI in use by Google customers. The first was Geotab, a company that is headquartered in Oakville, Ont. and just happens to be one of the largest vehicle fleet tracking organizations in the world.

“They track about 1.4 million commercial vehicles at the moment. And what they do is they collect data from those vehicles, and they provide AI-powered recommendations to the operators of those fleets on how to better operate and manage those vehicles.

“They had a client that has about 91,000 vehicles in their fleet. And using AI-powered data from us, they were able to help them go green by using recommendations that converted 13 per cent of that fleet to electric vehicles. That had the effect of essentially saving them $33 million, it reduced carbon emissions by 194,000 tonnes, which is the effect of removing 42,000 vehicles from the road, using AI-powered recommendations.”

As for CN Rail, “we work closely with them and they’re building a digital supply chain platform for their customers that is intended to be AI-powered. And the goal there is to say, ‘how can we improve the supply chain through simplified ordering, automating tracking of shipments and really improving the overall flow of the supply chain goods, which has been a challenge for awhile.”

The third example is Shopify. “Most of their business runs on Google, and last year they engaged us to solve a problem known as search abandonment,” said Alleva. “Search abandonment is this pesky issue that retailers face whereas a consumer, if you go to the web site, you are looking for something to buy, if you do not find it, you leave the site.

“That costs retailers something like US$2 trillion annually and they wanted to solve that for their top merchants. They engaged us to bring our AI search capabilities that we have in- house to apply to some of their top merchants, ultimately driving down search abandonment, improving the customer experience, and converting more sales.”


Compilation by Classicfurs Team


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