Google’s Sundar Pichai unveils Digital Unlocked for Indian small businesses

Google global CEO Sundar Pichai launches Digital Unlocked, a training program for Indian small business owners that will empower them with essential digital skills


Sundar Pichai with Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister for law & justice, electronics & information technology at a Google event in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Sundar Pichai with Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister for law & justice, electronics & information technology at a Google event in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: India has 51 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) today that contribute 37% to India’s GDP. Out of these, only 32% are online or are leveraging the power of the digital. It is the balance 68% that Google India wants to digitally empower in 2017, according to global chief executive officer Sundar Pichai.

Pichai, who was on a short trip to India, reaffirmed Google’s commitment to SMBs at an event in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Pichai said: “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 digitize. We believe it is important for us to invest in training and equipping these individuals and small businesses to accelerate their journey of growth.”

Investing in SMBs makes for perfect business sense too as a joint study between Google and KPMG titled Impact of internet and digitization on SMBs in India pointed out that 52% of digital businesses cater to customers outside their city,employ five times more people than businesses that are offline while profits of digitally engaged SMBs grow twice as fast compared to offline SMBs. The research also found that rising penetration and greater uptake for digital by SMBs could help increase their contribution to India’s GDP by 10 percentage points, taking it up to 46-48% by 2020.

To address the offline 68% SMBs, Pichai announced the launch of Digital Unlocked, a training program for business owners in India that will empower them with essential digital skills to help them get online and start using the internet to grow their business. The programme is built across the different formats of online, offline and mobile. The offline training is being conducted in partnership with FICCI and over the next three years, 5,000 workshops will be held across 40 Indian cities. The online training comprises a set of 90 self-paced video tutorials, curated specifically for India and is available free of charge. The tutorials cover a comprehensive set of topics ranging from building a web presence and driving online growth to reaching customers over mobile and video.

The trainings are certified by Google, Indian School of Business and FICCI.

Pichai also announced a free tool that will be launched later this year. Called ‘My Business Website’, this will help SMBs create a free, mobile optimised website. This new feature will provide simple, templated, editable websites for small businesses created from their data and photos on Google Maps and will be available in 9 Indic languages.

In addition, Google also launched Primer, a free mobile app designed to teach digital marketing skills in a quick, easy and interactive way. Available for download through the Google Play and iOS app store. Primer also works offline and is currently available in English and Hindi with Tamil, Telugu and Marathi versions coming shortly.

Pichai’s announcements are in continuation of Google’s efforts to support Digital India. Last year, Google had launched Google My Business, a program aimed at helping SMBs get an online presence on Google Search and Google Maps, without having to invest in a website or domain. Till date, over 8 million Indian SMBs are on these platforms.

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