What the readings bring up is both this great unifying force of technology and its reach into everything we do. I wanted to highlight this effect specifically for Google as it’s a prime example of a company making integration easy but at the same time centralizing a lot of work around the Google platform.
It makes sense for Google to be a cloud computing company as its primary services require online services. Still, it is a company that continues to integrate into different online markets as a consequence of its massive infrastructure and first-mover advantage.
This makes it easy to access things such as files easily, using Google drive, access information quickly, or even run complex ML/AI models for businesses. There a couple concerns to be had when great monoliths are created. First, unless the company is constantly incentivized to innovate, the economies of scale effect are achieved, which reduces cost (which always wonderful) but also stifles innovation which may be more incremental as the cost/benefit will never reach the same level as these large tech companies. This is seen more the effects of Amazon and Walmart, but as Google is able to out-compete smaller companies or easily buy them out, this causing services to continue to feed into these growing tech giants. This isn’t all bad as some other companies now may be able to scale up as a function of the lowered prices and added integrated services, leaving companies better able to perform and reallocate resources elsewhere, which may be more beneficial.
This also places a large emphasis on the ability for one company to be financially successful and secure. For success, imagine if Google declared bankruptcy tomorrow; how would the economy be affected by this news. Now, this may be an unfair scenario as Google is one of the most successful companies in the world but imagine how many services would be at risk of going offline. How many years would it take for things to return to the levels before the news? Would the US government have to bail them out? These are all major concerns for these businesses as they are integrated into so much of our digital infrastructure. This also puts an emphasis on security since their is so much private and critical data handled by Google, the moment they have a data breach (like Facebook just did), the amount of information that is now out in the open would be astronomical. This puts a huge amount of pressure on companies to do things correctly the first time and constantly be vigilant to outside threats. Both of these are good as Google is a stable company with a very secure infrastructure. Still, the more Google does and the more integrated into Google services, the more important it is for Google to continue to be successful.
The final thing I want to mention is the question of efficiency. As companies grow to scale, their ability to take care of work also increases per employee. So one employee working for a company that uses Google’s services may be able to do the job of 1.2 employees elsewhere. This is great because people can do more and would open it up for employees to do other work but the major problem being that companies looking to reduce costs will not need to continue to recruit personnel. This is one of the existential crises with the rise of these integrative cloud services and its effect on productivity that the economy is not creating enough jobs to replace the jobs destroyed by the rise in productivity and ML/AI. With so much integration with Google, less needs to be done, which saves hours of time and costs but at the cost of a different kind.
Though the topics I brought up tend to bend to the more negative, it’s only because these the major questions we need to consider before jumping headlong into total integration for these services. Do the benefits outway the cost? What do you do after creating a growing tech Colossus?