A couple of weeks ago a few of us were lucky enough to visit Google's offices in London town. It's always a treat to see the bright lights of our nation's capital. I think we were also part of a world record attempt to squeeze as many people as possible into a London Underground train.
As expected, Google's office is very impressive. A tower of glass and steel, with quiet fast moving elevators that could be something from a film. It was all very glamourous and a million miles away from the typical British office block.
Inside the office there was a fully stocked canteen with every drink imaginable and a selection of snacks. I guess the rationale is that well fed staff are happy staff. We thought that providing staff with Yorkshire Tea and Gold Blend instant was luxurious. Occasionally we even get in some Blue Ribands. Google have upstaged us by some considerable margin in the catering stakes.
The purpose of the visit was to publicise some of Google's products targeted at the small and medium sized business group. They've correctly identified this group as being important to the UK economy and a potential source of revenue for them in the future.
We were guided through a range of Google talks, from Google AdWords (naturally) through to the new Google+ platform. The presentations culminated in a 'one-to-one' session with a Google advisor where you could get the rare opportunity to speak to a 'Googler' directly.
Yes, this was an event to try and make Google more cash. However, it was also very insightful and useful, certainly worth the price of a train ticket and an overpriced sandwich.
It's great to see Google engaging with the SME market more. However, on balance, they can't offer this level of support to every customer and for most it is still probably necessary to get additional advice on strategy and planning from a professional team.