8 organizations from the UK and Ireland that adapted with the help of Google Cloud
President, EMEA, Google Cloud
COVID-19 has an impact on all of us, worldwide, in all aspects of our daily lives—from our families, to our communities, to the way we work. In the face of so much change, many businesses, big and small, have found the need to pivot and adapt to new realities, and I’m continually inspired by the stories I hear from our UK and Irish customers doing exactly that. Here are a few of my favourites, with insights and inspiration we all can look up to.
Helping charities continue providing care for our most vulnerable
For more than a century, the charity Barnardo’s has been working to improve the outcomes of thousands of vulnerable children throughout the UK. Lockdown made it critical for Barnardo’s to stay connected with its staff, the children, and the communities it supports. Continuing its work during COVID-19 was crucial, and the charity’s employees used G Suite to stay connected with each other.
Some teams have turned to Google Meet to stay connected with the children they care for. “These teams had been providing face-to-face support for children before the lockdown,” says Trevor Lawson, Transformation and Engagement Lead at Barnardos. “Despite the distance, with Google Meet they’ve been able to interact with the children online: playing games, sharing dance routines, and even just reading stories to them.”
Keeping businesses connected, whatever the circumstances
London-based fintech Revolut enables 12 million personal and business customers around the world to access their money in more than 150 currencies via its financial services super app. During the last year, Revolut has transitioned its customer support staff to Chromebooks, using predominantly browser-based tools to support its growing customer base. This technical setup has served the company well during COVID-19, enabling support staff to support personal and business customers throughout the lockdown, wherever they are. Revolut has benefitted from the scalability offered by building its app on Google Compute Engine. As usage increased, Google Compute Engine has given them the ability to scale up or down as needed. "It's essential that our millions of personal customers and our hundreds of thousands of business customers—from coffee shops to big companies—can access and manage their accounts at any time,” says Vlad Yatsenko, CTO at Revolut. “That's why they choose Revolut: for instant visibility and control of all their financial needs.”
With so many people working from home, individuals and companies are more dependent than ever on the internet and online services. In Ireland, more than two million customers rely on telecommunications company eir for phone, broadband, mobile, and TV services. When the company pivoted to working from home, its staff had to quickly reorient themselves and their projects to keep services going. With G Suite, workers were empowered to quickly share files and documents on Google Drive without having to rely on IT administrators, while Google Meet usage increased by 315% as the technology effectively replaced face-to-face meetings. “G Suite helped us to very quickly switch to remote working during lockdown, so we could continue projects like extending our fibre optic network, and keep delivering the best possible service to our customers,” says Roisin Clancy, Director of IT Operations at eir.
The impact of COVID-19 on retailers has been profound, especially those with physical stores. The UK government’s stay-at-home orders came as home furniture store DFS was in the middle of migrating to G Suite, but the retailer was already prepared. It accelerated the migration of important documents to Google Drive and distributed a work-from-home guide to its employees. Within minutes of the lockdown, senior executives at DFS were collaborating on Google Meet to work on a strategy. The very next day, they put their plan into action, halting deliveries and closing DFS manufacturing and distribution centers to keep the workforce safe. With every new government announcement since, senior staff have collaborated in real time over Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides to continue giving up-to-date, accurate guidance to the DFS workforce, keeping them connected, even while apart.
Supporting supermarkets and restaurants to feed a region on lockdown
Staying at home means eating at home, so hundreds of thousands of people across the UK naturally turn to Just Eat, which has been pioneering food delivery in the UK since 2001. While the lockdown meant a greater demand for food delivery, Just Eat, and the thousands of restaurants it partners with, faced the same COVID-related restrictions as anyone else. However, because Just Eat already had a significant number of staff working from home with G Suite, pivoting to a total remote working solution was easy to achieve without disrupting the business.
Besides prioritising the safety of its staff and keeping the business running, Just Eat also coordinated a major promotional campaign offering discounts for National Health Service (NHS) workers. Working with several government and community stakeholders, Just Eat mobilized the campaign within weeks using Google Meet. “The only reason that campaign came out as quickly as it did, was because we could get the development and commercial teams into discussions with the NHS,” says Richard Haigh, CTO at Just Eat. “That kind of collaboration is at the heart of what makes it possible for us to react so quickly, and it pays off so nicely when it’s for a good cause.”
Grocery retailers across the globe have seen huge spikes in demand for online delivery due to lockdown conditions. In this environment, Ocado Technology has supported its UK retail partners in delivering 40% more groceries than pre-lockdown, while also launching new ecommerce deployments for retail clients in France, Canada, and Sweden, to assist them in serving more customers during this time. Google Cloud helped Ocado Technology keep moving during lockdown, supporting human operators to remotely oversee maintenance of the company's unique bot swarm that picks customer grocery orders. “I’m incredibly pleased at the rate we’ve adapted,” says James Matthews, CEO at Ocado Technology. “Ultimately, it has led us to appreciate even more how our investments in technology can make us more efficient.”
Helping to keep the public informed and entertained in challenging times
Most people depend on the media to stay informed, and during a situation like COVID-19, the media becomes especially important. In the newsroom at The Telegraph there is a tight schedule of daily editorial meetings, where editors and journalists come together to discuss key news stories, and plan and coordinate editorial coverage. When lockdown measures were announced, it was no longer possible to meet in person, so The Telegraph issued affordable and portable HP Chromebooks to staff who did not already have portable devices. This allowed the schedule to continue as usual and enabled editorial meetings over Google Meet or Google Chat, without any technical difficulties slowing down the pace of a busy news cycle.
The disruption to the football season has been a keenly felt loss to many in the UK. But The Football Association (FA) is working hard to keep fans and players connected. The Lionesses, England’s national women’s football team, have led the way with a weekly Google Meet conversation broadcast to the public. Hosted by England footballers Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley, the discussions are a way for players and The FA to support the community and engage with their fans in a whole new way. “The impact of COVID-19 has been tough on everyone,” says Scott. “It’s been uplifting to be actively involved as a team to help bring support and a bit of laughter to others during this time.”
As the situation continues, Google Cloud is working to make sure that these organizations, and many more across the UK and beyond, have access to technology they can rely on to solve today’s unique challenges. As always, the health and wellbeing of our customers and their families is at the forefront of our minds, and we’re inspired by the variety of ways they’re using our technology to embrace new and safe ways of working, stay connected, and continue to thrive. We’re humbled to be on this journey together.