Google says the opening of a Product Development Centre in Nairobi and software engineers hired from diverse backgrounds across Africa will enable it to build products tailored to African users.
This will contribute to product inclusion by giving local developers an opportunity to innovate starting with product ideas to actualisation thereby enabling Africa to have products that reflect their needs.
Head of Product Inclusion and Equity at Google, Ms Annie Jean-Baptiste says the process will focus on four main pillars, ideation, user research, testing(adversarial machine learning) and marketing.
“As a global company, we look at creating products that reflect our footprint. No longer will our products be made in America for the world but we are cascading that to our other offices to ensure our products reflect the needs on the ground,” she says.
Google, which announced plans to put up the Nairobi developer hub, has since announced plans to hire 100 software engineers who will work as a think tank for upcoming product ideas from across Africa.
“We look forward to improving our current products by continually raising the bar on products with a focus on respecting the user. To understand our users better, we are committed to building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a workplace that creates a sense of belonging for everyone,” she adds.
The Product inclusion and equity head adds that special focus will be given to special interest groups and the marginalised groups as research has shown that creating products for people with various disabilities helps improve overall experience users have with our products.
“We build our products with equity in mind from the start. Inclusion should not be an afterthought. We want to make sure that underrepresented voices are being heard throughout the product development process—this means providing input in the early stages of product ideation, prototyping, user research, UX design and marketing—all the way to launch. By doing this, we can create products that perform better and are more relevant and useful globally.” she says.
To enhance suitability of all products, Ms Jean-Baptiste adds that Google is now working with internal and external product champions to test all new products before they are released for public consumption.
“Google wants to collaborate. Google is open to discussion, asking for feedback and truly wants to work with partners to develop product solutions and smart regulation. We’re working collaboratively to build a privacy-first, pro-consumer future that works for everyone. Privacy is good for business. Businesses who put privacy first build better relationships and trust with their customers.”