Cloud computing concept

View from India: Cloud is a strategic business imperative

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The usage of cloud is proliferating across organisations. It’s not just the big ones, but mid-sized and small firms are also entering the fray. Strategies are being realigned to move along newer avenues.

Digital transformation is the key reason for cloud integration into various sectors and companies. It is not just something fanciful for a handful of elite companies to latch on to.

At a recent NASSCOM-EY webinar, Nitin Sawant, India cloud leader at EY, said that a survey conducted earlier in the year had revealed that companies rely on cloud for business transformation, rather than it being a cost reduction initiative. “Big organisations are joined by mid-size companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are also into cloud-based applications for collaboration, enterprise resource management (ERM), customer relationship management (CRM) and security,” he said.

Cloud adoption is cutting across sectors. IT-ITes are joined by banking, financial services and insurance (BSFI) and pharma companies in the cloud adoption journey. SaaS (software as a service) tops the cloud models, followed by cloud native, platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).  

Cloud is a strategic imperative and is a platform for growth. Characteristics such as agility and productivity are associated with it. Data and AI can be leveraged on cloud. “Any new disruptive technology can bring a trail of challenges. Cloud is no exception. There could be a lack of both digital talent and business use cases to build user confidence. Some companies may have the inhibition that cloud migration is a business risk. Companies are now identifying data risks and enabling security by design,” added Nitin Bhatt, India Tech Sector leader at EY.

Organisations have included cloud on their tech agenda for several years. The pandemic has compelled companies to go digital. Either they have fully gone digital or are in the process of doing so. They’ve altered their outlook and shift from owning IT to consuming it, as part of the business strategy. Consequently, cloud usage is also realigned. The time to market or go to market with products is lessened and business risks are mitigated. Let’s look at it, the growth drivers for cloud migration are productivity, security and remote working, a take-off from the pandemic.

Even small companies need to be cloud prolific, as big organisations are likely to outsource cloud-based solutions from smaller ones. Executives view cloud as an enabler for resilience, lower costs and to disrupt legacy models. “India has seen a huge surge in cloud adoption. Cloud is high in the digital native space compared to traditional enterprises. Cloud maturity may be gauged from the ability of the enterprise to adopt. Cloud could be a catalyst in transforming legacy businesses,” felt Kiran Kesavarapu, head of industry solutions, Google Cloud India.

Seen logically, we need well informed staff to harness cloud potential. Sharing knowledge is important; probably this can happen right through the organisation for cloud preparedness. Companies may leverage automation to augment skill gaps to improve overall cloud efficiency. “A reality check reveals that many companies are weighed down by the fact product launches take months and not weeks to fulfil. It also makes it difficult for innovative ideas to roll out on time. Creating revenue models with historical data when pressed for time needs to be figured out,” reasoned Ragu Rajaram, global cloud leader, EY. This is where cloud can be tapped to answer many unanswered questions and explore newer dimensions. It helps build business differential capability from the advisory standpoint. Perhaps it may be a good idea to put the human in the middle of the activity and take a human-centric approach, whereby individuals are trained and prepared for executing cloud solutions. Cloud data could be used as a fuel and incrementally build blocks and scale them. 

Digital can be scaled for a population outreach. But security issues need to be taken care of. “Security can be embedded into the design, especially with reference to consumer data. Aadhaar could be an example of this. A pan-India initiative, Aadhaar is the unique identification number of individuals,” explained Anant R Adya, executive vice president, Infosys. Financial services have challenges related to their retail clients. It’s also a challenge to improve the retail experience and make it more immersive. Another aspect is about driving in the same amount of analytics and using the data to launch new products. Large financial firms have upgraded their core systems through the cloud. Thereby, issues related to customer relationship management can be tracked.

An engineering approach along with cloud-native applications could be integrated into many verticals including that of card payment gateways, which enables payments to happen on any digital device. To think of it, myriad cloud options may open out. As Huzefa Motiwala, CTO, Palo Alto Networks, puts it, “The cloud strategy is backed by the right confluence of AI, ML and 5G. Diverse verticals are whetting the confluence for their betterment. Like educational organisations, which are leveraging technology for their operations.” Cloud can be seen as an opportunity to build champions in cloud services and bring a change in management to lead the way to deliver goods.  

A broader realisation of the pandemic-driven lockdown is remote assistance, better understood in terms of frontline workers. Operational models in healthcare have changed.  “By 2025 India’s public cloud services (PCS) market is estimated to be USD 10.8 billion as per an International Data Corporation (IDC) report. This includes PaaS, SaaS and IaaS. The country is already home to around 750 million smartphone users. Conglomerates are getting together to set up apps and data related to the cloud. This can be tapped for monitoring operations within the organisation,” summed up Dhanniya Venkatasalapathy, executive director, cloud solutions, Microsoft India.

One can expect cloud investments to scale up in the coming years.  

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