Larry Page: Google's on a mission to clean up its products

It's unclear how successful Google has been -- see: white space in the Google+ redesign -- but Page's attitude seems to be that companies must continually tweak.

Google co-founder Larry Page at the company's Zeitgeist conference in September 2011. Screenshot by Charles Cooper/CNET

Google CEO Larry Page says that the company is undergoing a lot of "clean up" as it consolidates products, redesigns, and reworks the network's underpinnings that make technology invisible.

Speaking on Google's first-quarter conference call yesterday, Page outlined his view of the search giant's products as well as his view of IT. Since taking over at Google, Page has been talking incessantly about creating beautiful products and providing a simple user experience across all properties.

It's unclear how successful Google has been, given that white space was a big topic in the Google+ redesign , but Page's attitude seems to be that companies must continually tweak.

Page said:

Google's a large company now, but will achieve more and do it faster if we approach life with the passion and the soul of a start-up. This has involved a lot of clean-up. We've given many of our products including search a visual refresh so they now have a more consistent look and feel. We have so many opportunities that without hard choices we end up spreading ourselves too thin. Creating a simpler, more intuitive user experience across. Technology should do the hard work, logistics, scheduling and communications, so users can get on with what makes them happiest. Life. Our products work seamlessly together so people don't have to navigate Google to get stuff done.

That riff has a lot of lessons for corporate IT. First, the jury is out on the Google-as-a-startup thread. Every tech giant says it wants to remain a startup. Not so surprisingly they strain under their own weight more often than not.

Page added:

We still think that most of our resources should be going to our core businesses which really is search and ads. And then there's 20% on near-term things and another 10% on the really speculative things. Through our whole history we've really struggled to even have 10% on the speculative things. Generally it's much lower than that. I think the real thing that's needed on those projects is some management. We've got a limited number of things we can do.

Lesson: Project management and scope creep is deadly. However, Google has some cool scope creep in driverless cars and high-tech glasses .

Another lesson to ponder is Page's theory that technology should do the hard work, but be invisible. Apple takes this approach, but enterprises need to do the same. You shouldn't see those enterprise resource planning nuances. You just want the data on your iPad so it's actionable. In other words, corporate IT should just work.

Page continued:

Google Plus is truly at the heart of our efforts to create our social spine. With over 120 Google Plus integrations to date, we're on the right track. Your user experience on Google just gets better. You can see friends' recommendations when you're using Google play and you don't think about that as Google Plus but it just comes from that infrastructure.

Translation: Google has found itself with a lot of legacy approaches that it has to architect. It has used Google+ as a platform that dishes out connections to other products and systems.

How will it all turn out? Page's idea that everything should just work is totally valid. But scale and girth complicates IT. Page's chore will be to avoid technology bloat. It's the same chore that technology execs everywhere recognize.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Google CEO Page on user interface, IT: What can we learn?"

 

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