While many enterprises choose to transition to the cloud for cost and scalability benefits, numerous other factors can catalyse such a business move.
The considerations for cloud adoption can vary significantly among different types of businesses, such as a retail giant, a lottery operator, or a preschool, for example.
At Oracle’s CloudWorld Tour in Singapore, several C-suite executives shared insights into their companies’ cloud journeys during a panel titled “What the Future Holds for Cloud and Digital Transformation.”
In 2021, when Thailand’s CP Group consolidated its retail assets, Siam Makro and Lotus, Siam Makro had to migrate its systems to Lotus’s. The fastest way to accomplish this was through cloud technology, recalled Paul Howe, Group CIO of Siam Makro & Lotus’s Group.
Furthermore, the retail giant could no longer afford to have its IT department focus solely on IT concerns.
“We want IT departments to focus on business matters. This is one of our key motivations; it’s not just about the convenience of the cloud. Whether or not the cloud is more expensive or cheaper is not the primary concern. It’s about enabling our people to be business-focused, and we can see this shift happening now with cloud migrations,” Howe said.
Increasing business demands
Siam Makro operates over 130 stores in Thailand alone, and has a presence in China, India, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Lotus, on the other hand, has around 2,000 stores in Thailand and 62 outlets in Malaysia.
Consequently, the merged retail giant needed a platform capable of handling the volume and complexity of their data.
“We have a wealth of customer data, and we discovered that managing all this data on-premises was just impossible. Our business is also quite entrepreneurial, where everyone can access reports, do self-reporting, or engage in data mining,” Siam Makro & Lotus’s Paul Howe explained.
The company considered working with big data, but the amount of work required to get it operational was overwhelming
To this end, they turned to Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW).
“We found that the autonomous database was better suited for our business to quickly adapt. We’ve gained a lot of advantages from it, such as mixed workload. Performance-wise, it works really well,” Howe continued.
According to Chris Chelliah, Senior Vice President, Technology and Customer Strategy, APJ, Oracle, the autonomous data warehouse is capable of running and managing customers’ data spanning multiple clouds.
“We realised that customers have their data dispersed across different environments, but they want a single pane of glass, and then apply things like machine learning and AI on top of that,” he observed.
In a different industry, the state-owned lottery operator Singapore Pools has to process close to 3 million transaction data every day— a task that requires a platform capable of handling not only the volume and complexity but real-time monitoring.
We previously lacked end-to-end monitoring, which we needed to track the customer experience. Last year, we integrated Oracle’s platform, enabling almost real-time monitoring of our OSB (Oracle Service Bus) services. The OSB forms an important layer that feeds into our backend processes. For example, we successfully monitored our promotion during the World Cup last year and achieved the desired results,” noted Yeo Teck Guan, Chief Business Technology Officer, Singapore Pools.
Further, the work goes beyond merely managing data at scale, commented Oracle’s Chris Chelliah, but also includes managing the entire pipeline lineage.
“It’s not just about managing the data, but also managing the end user’s experience, wherever they are, and in whatever device they’re using. Are they experiencing lag or latency in the data? How do we scale up and address that?” Chelliah asked.
Balancing innovation and compliance
For MindChamps, an early childhood educator operating in seven countries — including Singapore — managing the IT infrastructure can be quite a challenge.
As a company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, the learning institution faces additional pressure to ensure compliance with data regulations.
This is where MindChamps benefits from its partnership with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Shan Gandhimani, the company’s Chief Information Officer, acknowledged that their primary focus is on enhancing the skills of their teachers rather than designing and managing their back-end infrastructure.
“The biggest challenge was that we have developed a product in-house and we also want to establish ourselves as a company for learning management and student registration,” recalled Gandhimani.
According to the CIO, OCI not only assisted with these requirements but also helped manage the unexpected surge of online learners during the pandemic.
“It’s providing this kind of systematic design support, which is more critical. For example, we can’t just start with 100 students online and then suddenly cope with a jump to 5,000 students. How do we manage this traffic flow, given that we are not experts? Luckily, this was supported,” Gandhimani remarked.
Preparing for the future
As technology inevitably reshapes the business landscape across sectors such as retail, gaming, or education, innovation becomes a crucial driving force to maintain competitiveness. According to Paul Howe, Group CIO of Siam Makro and Lotus, innovation means different things to different people.
“Innovation is doing something completely new. Then there’s process engineering, which aims to make things more efficient. Sometimes we conflate the two; they’re not the same thing. With the cloud, we’re doing a lot of both. We’re achieving process efficiencies that are much faster than we thought before, using things like bytecode, for example. We’re developing things quicker and automating our business faster. On the side of true innovation, we’re also exploring areas like AI machine learning,” he shared.
To further illustrate, the CIO cited Tesla as an example of true innovation.
Looking ahead, CP Group, the parent company of both Siam Makro and Lotus, envisions itself as a retail tech company.
“We no longer see ourselves merely as a wholesaler/retailer, and we view the cloud as one of the tools we use to become a tech company. We know that the world is changing, and you can’t just sell goods anymore. You have to offer services, and you must be tech-led yourself,” Howe stressed.
As for MindChamps, which is moving towards a zero on-prem infrastructure, the current game plan is to focus less on IT and more on its core business, similar to Siam Makro and Lotus’s agenda.
We have a small team, and we want to make it even smaller so we can focus on areas such as our learning management system. There are large marketplaces where we plan to place our products, where you can connect with third parties or other payment gateways on these enhancement systems, and so on. This path is already being followed by many who are already in the cloud,” concluded MindChamps’ Ghandimani.