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5 data highlights from Google Cloud Next 2024

Google Next '24 was recently held in Las Vegas (9-11 April 2024) and some of our Devoteam G Cloud data team were lucky enough to attend. The overall focus of the event this year was on advances in data and artificial intelligence (AI). Here's our 5 highlights regarding Google Cloud in data, from the new technologies available and announced at Next. With as a bonus, 7 exciting new features of Google’s data visualisation platform Looker.

Emphasis on convergence between data and AI

There seems to be a strong emphasis on the growing connection between data and AI. This means that data is no longer a separate entity, but plays a crucial role in powering AI applications. 

Furthermore, a research report cited during the event highlights that 84% of data leaders believe that generative AI will significantly reduce the time needed to derive valuable insights from data.

Interesting panel discussion about data governance & Gen AI at Google Cloud Next 2024

Our 5 exciting data updates from Google Cloud Next 2024

As Google Cloud data enthusiasts, we’ve found the 5 most important points to highlight in the data analytics section of Google Cloud Next 2024 are the following.

1. BigQuery Continuous Queries

BigQuery now helps make real-time streaming data processing dramatically easier with continuous SQL queries,  providing continuous SQL processing over data streams, enabling real-time pipelines with AI operators or reverse ETL. This means uplevelling your business to process, analyse, transform, and use AI with your data in real-time is now as easy as writing a SQL statement. 

2. BigQuery Data Canvas

To boost user productivity, Google is also rethinking the user experience for AI-augmented data exploration and analysis. The BigQuery data canvas will be introduced in preview. This provides a reimagined natural language-based experience for data exploration, curation, management, analysis and visualisation. This in turn enables data professionals to quickly explore and scaffold data journeys in a graphical workflow that reflects their mental model.

3. Apache Kafka for BigQuery

  • BigQuery becomes compatible with your Kafka apps, ready for migrations and integrations. And with automatic version upgrades.
  • Fully managed Apache Kafka service: granular scaling for cost management, with configuration as code. No need to manage individual brokers or storage sizing.

4. Data Governance

Good data governance is critical for data and AI innovation to make your unified data accessible to the teams that need it.  
That’s why key Dataplex data governance features have been integrated directly into BigQuery Studio, enabling data analysts and data engineers to gain insights as they work with data, including:

  • Automatic data quality, which helps you build confidence in your data, including built-in rule recommendation, serverless execution and alerts.
  • Data lineage, which provides end-to-end lineage tracking of all BigQuery data. To help you better understand the lineage from data to AI, support is being extended for Vertex AI pipelines, which will soon be available in preview, and also column-level lineage in BigQuery, now in preview. 
  • Google is also incorporating governance rules that help you define policies for BigQuery data that are automatically enforced through fine-grained access controls.

5. BigQuery was described as a unified, AI-ready data platform that can handle multiple data formats and integrates with Vertex AI’s Gemini models. 

These integrations enable features such as:

  • Multimodal analytics: jointly analyse different types of data (text, images, etc.).
  • Vector embeddings: Efficiently represent data for faster processing and retrieval.
  • Fine-tuning of Large Language Models (LLM) within BigQuery: Directly leverage the power of LLMs on your enterprise data.

7 New exciting features of Looker

We’re also excited to present you the 7 most important new features of Google’s data visualisation tool Looker:

1. Looker’s conversational analysis makes it easy to interact with business data using natural language.

2. LookML Assistant helps create semantic models quickly using natural language.

3. Looker Studio Pro will be fully integrated into the Looker platform to create one seamless Looker experience.

4. Looker Studio Pro licences are now available at no additional cost to licensed Looker users.

5. It is now possible to automatically generate slides from your Looker Studio dashboards.

6. Using natural language, generate entire reports in the style of your brand.

7. Integration with Google Workspace makes it easy to collaborate with data in Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Chat.

As you can see, at Google Cloud Next 2024 Google announced a lot of exciting opportunities for organisations to go to the next level with Google Cloud’s data capabilities – and importantly: to blend them with the best of AI.

What else is new in Data & AI? 

Join Devoteam data & AI experts on May 14th to find out!