May 19, 2020

Google restructures in Europe

Jitendra Magar
2 min
Google restructures in Europe

Google announced on Wednesday that it was launching a reorganisation of its European operations in the face of a tougher regulatory environment. The overhaul was first reported by the Financial Times, naming Google VP Matt Brittin, as the executive who will head a new unit unifying two separate European divisions. Brittin is a triple Cambridge rowing blue and an Olympian oarsman who has been leading the company's southern and eastern European division.

Britten has had to defend the organisation before the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, against charges that it pays too little corporate tax. The reorganisation comes at a time when Google is under pressure from European governments both on taxation and on compliance issues – notably with the ‘right to be forgotten’ enshrined in a 2012 EC directive. Subsequently Google has been swamped with requests from Europeans eager to erase humiliating links to their past from its – and other – internet search engines.

In December 2014 the UK government introduced a new tax rate on multinational companies that seek to avoid paying their fair share to the Treasury. The levy, nicknamed the 'Google tax' because of the high number of technology firms seeking to avoid tax, will come into force in April.

However Brittin has said that the organisational changes are also being made in response to competition in the social media space, naming Facebook and Twitter in particular for successfully attracting content away from Google. He will be based in London though he intends to spend much of his time travelling to the company’s 25 or so offices across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, which also fall under his authority.

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

British Army
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”


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