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CRN Exclusive: Google Channel Chief Tells Partners To 'Put On Your Seat Belt And Jump In Now'

Carolee Gearhart tells CRN exclusively that innovation-focused partners will see a strong commitment to customer outcomes heading into 2019 as Google advances its mission to make inroads into the enterprise.

Google channel chief Carolee Gearhart urged solution providers to team with the company to drive game-changing outcomes for enterprise customers in 2019.

Promising a good working relationship between Google and its partners, the vice president of worldwide channel sales for Google said, "The time is now. Put on your seat belt and jump in now because things are moving so quickly, and there's a window of opportunity to get in now or you might get left behind."

Gearhart, who has been at the helm of the cloud giant's channel organization since July, said she has spent that time learning about how Google can grow and build with its partners, especially those with an innovation mind-set.

Google is giving its competition a run for its money in the artificial intelligence and machine-learning space, and its partners have enthusiastically responded to the cutting-edge offerings, she said.

[Related: Google Taps GE Digital's Carolee Gearhart As New Channel Chief ]

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, who was critical in helping Google land more enterprise customers, last week said she would be stepping down in January 2019. Thomas Kurian, a 22-year Oracle veteran, will succeed her.

Paul Vallee, president and CEO of IT consultant and MSP Pythian, a Google Premier Partner, said the CEO change demonstrates that Google is confident in its go-to-market motions. It also should shift some more power into the hands of the sales leadership team at Google, including Paul-Henri Ferrand, Google Cloud’s president of global customer operations, Gearhart, and Nina Harding, chief of global partner strategy and programs, while Kurian focuses on product, he said.

"I would consider this move a vote of confidence in the sales and channel team—[Ferrand], Gearhart and [Harding]—because what [Kurian] brings is strategy and product vision," Vallee said.

Google Premier Partner Deloitte is looking forward to continuing to team with the cloud giant as it takes its next step under new leadership. The move signals to the market that Google is placing an even bigger emphasis on enterprise sales, said Tom Galizia, principal and global Fortune 50 account leader for Deloitte.

"Diane has done an exceptional job in building an enterprise-ready cloud that two years just didn't exist," Galizia said. "[Kurian] is walking into a strong team on the sales and partner ecosystem side."

Google may be the youngest of the publicly available cloud giants, but in just the past two years it's gone from not a consideration to an important part of multi-cloud discussions with clients, Galizia said.

"The innovation agenda when it comes to AI and machine learning is really raising enterprise interest levels in Google," he said.

Gearhart's experience runs the gamut from working for large, global companies to startups. Prior to her role with Google, she served as chief ecosystem and channels office for GE Digital, and before that she was senior vice president of customer success and global channels for software firm Adaptive Insights, which was acquired by Workday in August.

Gearhart is running the overall channel business across the Google Cloud Platform, G Suite and Chrome channel businesses, while Harding, who reports to Gearhart, is responsible for Google's channel partner program and certification design, as well as channel support and training resources for partners.

Gearhart said she was excited to join Google over the summer and has been busy visiting each global region to understand and assess partner needs "on the ground."

"There were things that became clear right out of the gate—making sure the infrastructure under [Harding] is able to support and scale the growth that these partner businesses are experiencing," she said. "Our partners can't hire fast enough so we are looking at what we can do to help extend opportunities to our partners."

One way that Google will help is by expanding its certification program to include more specializations, she said. Google today offers Cloud Specialization certifications in areas such as education, infrastructure and enterprise collaboration.

"Partners are really excited about these areas where partners have a clear differentiated solution that is ahead of the market, and they want to make sure they have the skills to be able to meet those requirements," Gearhart said.

These skill sets are helping Google land more enterprise customers through its partners. Google has said that it wants to achieve an 100 percent partner attach rate for all its business sales, and the company is starting to make good on that pledge, Deliotte's Galizia said.

"In almost every single large enterprise transaction we have today, there are partners involved, and often a blend of interesting partners—like a global system integrator, and a vertical-focused partner, or partner with a functional expertise in Google's technology to help make sure that promise is made real for a customer," Gearhart said.

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