As part of its effort to bring India’s 51 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) online, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the launch of Digital Unlocked Wednesday at an event in New Delhi.
Through the Digital Unlocked website, Indian SMB owners can access 90 training videos on 23 digital marketing topics, and among several related initiatives, Google says it will conduct 5,000 workshops in 40 Indian cities over the next three years, Mashable reports.
Website building tool “My Business” was also announced at the event. It will be launched in India later this year, before rolling out to other countries.
Less than 32 percent of Indian small businesses have any web presence at all, Google says. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, only 22 percent of adults in India had access to the internet. Researchers from the Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS) said that this low internet penetration can be explained by a number of factors, including a lack of education, which Google’s new training should address.
Google has partnered with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the Indian School of Business for Digital Unlocked training and certification. Google will work with FICCI to host in-person workshops, while an online training option will be available through the Primer app.
451 Research APAC Services Research Director Agatha Poon told Mashable that the stamp of approval companies like Google get from local authorities with training partnerships is strategically important to accelerating their adoption.
“Microsoft has already earned the trust of thousands of businesses in India. Google is catching up fast. The company has publicly announced its global expansion plan, including adding another 10 GCP regions (India is one the new regions) to its network through 2017,” Poon said.
Digital Unlocked follows a pattern established by other Google training initiatives like Digital Garage in the U.K. and Australia, Digital Skills in Africa, and around 40 other country and language-specific websites.
Google currently provides WiFi availability at 100 rail stations in India, and plans 300 more eventually, through a partnership with RailTel India. Adoption of cloud services in the country has been rapid, led by SaaS use among larger organizations, according to a November report.