SumUX

Part
01
of two
Part
01

SumUX Projects

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

While there is no publicly available information to fully answer the question, we've used the available data to pull together key findings. Generally speaking, Google's SumUX unit works on various projects surrounding Google Search, Doodles, News, and Assistant. Sketch2AE is an example of a tool produced by Google SUMux Motion Design. Furthermore, the SumUX project was created by a team of experts including Bobby Nath, Paola Colombo, Diane Solinger, and Tina Wang. The following presentation includes an outline of our research methodology, to better understand why the requested information is not publicly available, as well as a deep dive into our findings.

METHODOLOGY

We started our research by exploring the Google SumUX official website in order to gain perspective on the type of activity that this Google unit generally pursues and identify some of the projects that they worked on within the last 6 to 12 months. The website clearly indicates that SumUX is the structure behind Google Assistant, Google Search, Google News and Doodles. However, further details regarding projects associated with each Google product were not available. Nevertheless, we continued our exploration of official sources by looking through Annual Reports and Press Releases of Google LLC. Not only that but also, we were able to find the Annual Report of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google LLC. The report briefly talked about Google Search and Google Assistant but it did not include any references to SumUX.

However, Google Search and Google Assistant were mentioned in relation to Google’s investment in machine learning. The voice recognition capabilities of Google products were an example of machine learning applications. Allowing the user to perform vocal Internet searches and enabling Google Assistant to offer spoken translations were specific instances of voice recognition technology employment. Furthermore, in terms of user experience, the report mentioned that Google Assistant now makes it possible for the user to talk with the soft ‘in a conversational way’ through various channels such as headphones, phones, speakers of television sets. Moreover, in the ‘Google properties’ section of the report, the revenues generated by Google properties are listed, however, a breakdown of the actual properties is not available.
We continued our research by exploring the social media profiles of SumUX team members, thinking that they might reveal more details concerning specific projects on which they worked. To this avail, we went on to examine social media networks such as LinkedIn. Looking at the team members’ profiles, we found out that the professionals working for SumUX handle a variety of projects surrounding UX Research and Engineering, Content Strategy as well as UX Writing, PgM, Motion Design, Visual Design, Conversation Design, and Interaction Design. However, there were no additional details regarding specific projects developed by the team within the last 6 to 12 months.
Having discovered that, we continued our project by exploring the news and media mentions surrounding each SumUX product. Therefore, we examined a variety of online publications and magazines specialized in software development and technology. Search Engine Land, XDA Developers, Vox, and Tech Target are just a few examples.
Furthermore, we investigated official Google resources such as the virtual spaces dedicated to Google Doodles and Google developers. Although we didn’t find any details regarding SumUX projects and setbacks, Search Engine Land indicates that one of the challenges related to user experience, in general, has to do with navigation abandonment due to slow loading pages. From XDA Developers and Vox, we found that, although the voice assistant technology is becoming more and more widespread, consumers seem to be concerned with the lack of privacy. Google and similar companies will have to gain their costumers’ trust. In addition to that, Vox reveals a number of other challenges surrounding Google’s voice recognition technology. Its limited capability when it comes to comprehending accents is only of them. The lack of money-making strategies and the necessity to invest in hardware solutions are two other issues that Google will have to face. Tech Target reveals similar issues. To what we have already mentioned, Tech Target authors add that a lack of contextual understanding is another challenge that AI developers need to address.
To make sure that we have exhausted all possibilities regarding SumUX media mentions, we performed a thorough search through social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in order to find out whether they featured any posts regarding SumUX projects. We discovered a 2017 Facebook post referring to Sketch2AE, a Google SUMux Motion Design tool. However, as we mentioned, the post dated back from 2017 and it did not include any pain points or challenges. Aside from tech publications, we went on to investigate marketing reports from Markets and Markets, Transparency Market Research or Market Research, among others. Several reports focused on Google and IoT but the table of contents did not feature any recent projects of Google SumUX. We need to mention that the reports were not publicly available in their entirety. The full text was hidden behind a paywall, as it can be seen by accessing the ‘Intelligent Apps Market’ report.
Finally, since the publicly available information surrounding our topic was so scarce, we decided to try and triangulate the requested information. We examined 2018 and 2019 surveys and reports created by Microsoft and other industry publications, such as Voice Report. We also searched for expert opinions like those of Mario Queiroz, Vice President of Product Development at Google, and Svetlana Sicular, an analyst at Gartner Data and Analytics. Based on these sources and some of the sources previously mentioned, such as Vox and Tech Target, we attempted to identify some of the challenges surrounding the SumUX products. However, the pain points that we discovered were not strictly affecting SumUX products but the voice recognition technology as a whole. Moreover, there is no proof that these issues emerged within the last 6 to 12 months. Judging by the unrevealing LinkedIn profiles of SumUX team members, it is likely that the information related to Google's SumUX projects is confidential.

HELPFUL FINDINGS

When it comes to some of the SumUX projects, we were able to find that Google SUMux Motion Design created Sketch2AE to bring ‘sketch and after-effects’ closer to one another. Furthermore, recent Google Doodles projects include Celebrating Ruth Asawa, Labour Day, Celebrating the New Era, Last day of the Heisei Period or Evangelina Elizondo’s 90th Birthday.
Regarding Google News, a SumUX product, we found that the permanent data flow that is uploaded to the Internet is analyzed with the help of A.I. The information is then organized and storylines are created. Company representatives state that Google News A.I. can understand ‘people, places and things involved in a story as it evolves.’ However, as we have seen from previous sources, one of the issues with A.I. technology is that the machines have yet to understand the context. Microsoft team members suggest that, in order for companies such as Google to gain their utilizers’ trust, they need to improve their A.I.-based products and make sure that they can provide users with ‘authentic and contextual information.
As for Google Search, this Google unit is very dynamic, projects such as index changes or algorithm updates occur all the time. Search Engine Land presents some of the most relevant updates that marketers can consult. However, these updates go back to previous years and thus exceed our target timeframe of the past 6 to 12 months. However, Google Speed Update was released in July 2018 and it was one of SumUX’s projects. Because speed was a challenge for Google, since latency led to navigation abandonment, this update aimed at improving page load time. Through this update, slow loading pages were excluded from top search results. Ilya Grigorik, a Web Performance Engineer at Google, stated that there is still a long way to go in this respect. Industry professionals, such as webmasters or SEO experts were afraid that this update would negatively affect their traffic.
Finally, the most recent apps associated with Google Assistant are 100 Years Ago, Credit Card Helper, and My Adventure Book. The 100 Years Ago app allows the user to listen to hit music and breaking news from 100 years ago. The Credit Card Helper assists utilizers with finding the best credit cards in a short time, while My Adventure Book is a game that stimulates users to create their own adventure story. Aside from the newest apps, the trend that dominates the Google Assistant user experience seems to be the voice recognition technology developed with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Therefore, a lot of the challenges that Google Assistant needs to address revolve around voice recognition software and A.I. limitations.
The Microsoft ‘Voice Report for 2019’ reveals that 72% of respondents had utilized voice assistants and that 36% of them preferred Google Assistant in specific. In terms of challenges surrounding the technology, the utilizers’ concern regarding privacy is an issue that companies such as Google need to address. 41% of users are worried about privacy. Most users fear that their information is not secure, that they don’t know exactly how their information is utilized or that their devices are listening or recording them.
Google Home, a device that runs Google Assistant, is also facing some challenges of its own. First and foremost, it is nearly impossible for Google to run ads in this environment. An audio advertisement that utilizers cannot avoid would generate a lot of complaints. Furthermore, developing vocal recognition software makes it necessary for Google to start investing in hardware capable of holding that soft. Furthermore, the search results returned in a voice environment don’t allow the utilizers to see the entire list of sources that their search revealed. This makes Google seem biased. Privacy concerns and a difficulty to understand accents are two other challenges that Vox associates with Google Assistant.

Conclusion

Although the information surrounding the projects developed by Google’s SumUX unit and their respective challenges is not publicly available, it is likely that the most recent SumUX projects focus on improving A.I. capabilities in general and refining voice recognition technology in particular. The Google SumUX products are built around artificial intelligence. Google News uses A.I. to analyze the permanent flux of news uploaded to the Internet and then create storylines for Google News users. Google Assistant is powered by artificial intelligence in its entirety. Improving the product’s voice recognition capabilities is a necessary undertaking to ensure Google’s success in the industry. Therefore, the challenges that SumUX projects face are likely the same challenges that A.I. technology and voice recognition software are currently confronting. A few examples include the limitations of artificial intelligence technology when it comes to contextual understanding, the consumers’ lack of trust concerning the way Google and similar companies protect and utilize their data or the fact that vocal recognition software makes it hard for companies to find and implement money-making strategies.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Bobby Nath Profile

Bobby Nath is Google's "VP of User Experience - Search, Assistant, News" and has been since November 2018. If his position or title has changed, no public-facing information source makes mention of it. His business philosophy is inclusive, making room for diverse visions and perspectives. His design philosophy is holistic, and he is quoted as saying, "Design considers everything."

WORK HISTORY

Bobby Nath holds the title "VP of User Experience - Search, Assistant, News." He has been in this position since November 2018. In this role, he researches and designs UX Engineering, and UX Program Management across Google's Search, Assistant, News, Ecosystem, Doodles, and many other projects. The SumUX team is associated with Google's Search, Assistant, Doodles, and News segments.

Before becoming the VP of User Experience, he was the "Director of User Experience - Knowledge" from April 2013 to October 2018. As the Director of User Experience, he was part of a major design update in Google.

From May 2012 to May 2013, Bobby Nath was "Director of User Experience - GeoCommerce." In this role he focused on apps, Local, Payments, Offers, and Travel, among other Google segments.

From September 2011 to April 2012 he held the title of "Head of User Experience - Commerce" at Google. That department worked on Payments, Shopping, Digital Print and other projects.

Before joining Google, Bobby Nath worked at Amazon for 12 years and 1 month. During that time, from December 2007 to September 2011 he held the title "Sr. Manager of User Experience Design and Usability." In this role, his responsibility was to "conceptualize, define, and design both the high-level strategy and detailed design system" of Amazon.

Before that, while still at Amazon, he held the positions of "User Experience Architect (Principal Designer)" from Oct 2005 to Dec 2007, "Senior UI Designer" from April 2001 to October 2005, and "Designer II" from September 1999 to April 2001.

WORK ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Bobby Nath was he was part of a major design update in Google while he was a director of user experience in 2015. This project included the launching of Google's new logo. This is the first major update on Google's main web presence since launch. Together with Google’s Tamar Yehoshua, vice president of product management, Nath was able to improve the legibility of the logo across multiple platforms and screen sizes.

STATEMENTS ON HIS BUSINESS PHILOSOPHIES

Bobby Nath's business philosophy can be partially understood through the following quote of his “The problems we’re solving—at the scale at which we’re solving for—can’t be done with a single vision,” he added, “It takes many people across a diverse range of knowledge.”

His design philosophy is based on the principle that "Design considers everything." He claims that his design core is about finding or discovering the way to dissolve borders between people, places, ideas, and products. He has also been quoted as saying “focus on the user and all else will follow” when creating the design.

FOCUS WITH SUMUX

SumUX is the team behind Google Search, Assistant, Doodles, and News. As VP of User Experience Bobby Nath designs, researches, engineers, and manages the user experience across each of the associated Google projects.

ARTICLES

The following article focuses on Bobby Nath and was published within the last 12 months: Leading by Design: AIGA recognizes Google’s Commitment to Design Excellence. The article covers how, together with other leaders in Google, Nath was able to provide design insights and philosophies to recent changes. The article discusses ideas such as "design is for everyone," "design considers everything," "design is emotive," "design gives form to the future," and "design is never done."

The only other article we found was from 2015 and discusses Google's logo change.

CONCLUSION

Bobby Nath has spent more than 20 years designing and leading teams that design user interfaces. This has lent him a modern, holistic design philosophy. He combines this with business philosophy focused on integrating diverse visions and bringing a team together to consider many perspectives.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Thought partner to VP of Design, and member of the sumUX leadership team, setting direction, scaling, and upleveling the entire 500+ global design team responsible for Search, Assistant, News,and the iconic Doodle. These are projects running before 12 months"
Quotes
  • "Director role with one of Google's largest user experience (UX) teams supporting Google Search,Assistant, Google Doodle and Maps. "
Quotes
  • "Operations Lead for sumUX, UX team responsible for Search, Assistant, News, and Doodles."
Quotes
  • "While Google’s originally messaging around the Speed Update was that it would only impact a small percentage of queries and only impact web pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users,” SEOs, webmasters, site owners, etc. clearly responded to the potential that their organic traffic would suffer by having slow site speed. "
  • "I would suggest you don’t need to a perfect score in the PageSpeed Insights tool, but you should look to continually improve."
Quotes
  • "Google Assistant dominate in terms of overall userbase because of their availability on iOS and Android devices apart from smart speakers."
  • "Challenges: 41% users concerned about privacy: In spite of the rising popularity of smart speakers, 41% of the participant in the survey raised concerns about privacy, with the lack of confidentiality of data and passive listening being their major concerns. More than one-third of the people said that they were not comfortable with their personal data being shared with internet companies"
  • "The survey concludes that users are willing to exchange their non-PII (personally identifiable information) including age and gender for a discount. They may also be willing to share PII (personally identifiable information) such as name, email, home address, phone number if there’s an additional value like an automated buying facility for frequently purchased items or faster shipping options"
  • "virtual assistants must provide authentic and contextual information, instead of just providing search results that help users buy more products, especially when responding to queries on sensitive topics. Smart assistants must provide unbiased and verified results when distributing information besides offering tools that ensure a good balance of utility and productivity."
Quotes
  • "Assistant accesses personalized features like your search history and your calendar. Google recently enabled voice recognition on Home devices so it can run multiple accounts, the idea being that different users can each retrieve their own personal information, but not someone else’s."
  • "Google admits Home’s voice recognition capabilities are not perfect. “We’re continuing to fine-tune our voice recognition systems and will get better over time,” the company said in a statement."
Quotes
  • "100 Years Ago; Credit Card Helper; and Credit Card Helper, and My Adventure Book are the 3 applications for Google Assistant"
Quotes
  • "When we created the original Google News 15 years ago, we simply organized news articles to make it easier to see a range of sources on the same topic. "
  • "The reimagined Google News uses a new set of AI techniques to take a constant flow of information as it hits the web, analyze it in real time and organize it into storylines. This approach means Google News understands the people, places and things involved in a story as it evolves, and connects how they relate to one another"
Quotes
  • "Adam hatched some golden tools for the SUMux² Motion Design team that we couldn’t imagine keeping all to ourselves, so we’re excited to share: Sketch2AE: The peanut butter and jelly between Sketch and AE Inspector Spacetime: Google Translate for engineers"