The business landscape has changed drastically since the onset of COVID-19. Across Asia-Pacific, the implementation of fluctuating COVID-19 regulations, for example, has forced businesses to rethink their operational and business strategies, with cloud coming to the fore as the fastest and most resilient method to keep businesses and communities running. Transitioning to remote working, schooling, shopping for necessities, delivery services – the list goes on – has been made much smoother thanks to cloud.
It’s no surprise then that cloud adoption has increased exponentially. Accenture research on cloud services showed that cloud spending in the first quarter of 2020 was nearly triple that of the previous year. And rightfully so, as a new wave of companies race to reinvent themselves and use technology innovations to shape their new realities.
Cloud was a critical part of our Technology Vision 2021 report, which looked at top trends businesses will need to address over the next three years. In fact, it found that 87% of APAC executives agree that the pace of digital transformation for their organisation is either accelerating, or significantly accelerating. This means that cloud is quickly becoming an essential part of the IT estate, and we are beginning to see its transformational benefits materialise. While cloud has made business processes more affordable and efficient, it has also since become an essential part of society, fundamentally changing the way we work and live.
Thriving with cloud
With this in mind, here are the key ways that cloud can enable businesses to thrive amid uncertainty:
- Differentiating, reinventing and growing with cloud
Rapid digital transformations and the sudden influx of new technologies have ignited a new era of business — one where architecture matters more than ever, and industry competition has now evolved to include a battle between technology stacks. Take the manufacturing industry — predictive analytics and robotics help companies get one step closer to delivering highly customised on-demand products. Complex supply chain operations have also been forced to rethink their strategies based on changing government requirements and consumer needs as a result of the pandemic. As the need for differentiated products and services grows, we will need to shift how our supply chains operate fundamentally by embracing automation and cloud technologies.
Cloud foundations, services and cloud-based AI will help businesses create dynamic, sustainable and competitive architecture, allowing them to tap into the full spectrum of technology capabilities and help them in redefining their success amid uncertain times. This is why every successful cloud transformation always begins with a plan. A “cloud-first” strategy is much more than just the simple migration of applications, it is the reinvention of ideas, and the reimagination of products, services, workforce and customer experience.
- Managing risk through the looking-glass with cloud
Digital twins, a technology that has been around for decades, is now being reimagined due to cloud. Through cloud, digital representations of physical objects and processes are now hyper-scaled and enriched with AI. Cloud allows digital twin models which in turn enables businesses to reinvent old ideas, turning them into new ones.
This will change everything as leaders start to connect massive networks of intelligent twins to create living models of whole factories, product life cycles, supply chains, ports and cities. The data that businesses gather, visualise and contextualise from these mirrored worlds will allow them to bridge physical operations with digital capabilities. Leaders will now be able to make data and intelligence the primary orchestrators of their businesses and enjoy the benefits of doing so –increased real-time agility at scale, the overhaul of innovative process, and the formation of new ecosystems and partnerships in the mirrored world. As companies shift from reacting to the crisis, to reinventing what comes next, those who use technology to master change will be the ones to define our future.
- Multiparty systems: Creating richer, stronger ecosystems with cloud
Cloud is helping to create multiparty systems that can help businesses gain greater resilience and adaptability, especially during uncertain times. A new generation of multiparty systems that can easily share data between individuals and organisations is further enabled through cloud-based technologies like blockchain, distributed ledger, distributed database and tokenisation. Indeed, IDC forecasted blockchain to maintain double-digit year-over-year growth. Adopting a broader ecosystem-forward approach will help businesses drive efficiency and build new business and revenue models.
Technologies that were once considered too complicated or too far from maturity, like contact tracing and frictionless payments, suddenly took centre stage during the pandemic. Our research found that 90% of executives believe that multiparty systems will enable their ecosystems to forge a more resilient and adaptable foundation to create new value with their organisation’s partners.
- Autonomy and innovation: Everyone is a technologist
Cloud is not just enabling the development of new technologies; it is also enabling people. During COVID-19, powerful technology capabilities have been put into people’s hands. Cloud-enabled technologies like natural language processing and low-code/no-code platforms are allowing people to take control without having to continually call on IT for support. Suddenly, the power to create technology solutions is entering the hands of people all across the enterprise. Democratising technology ensures that IT can focus on higher value tasks such as injecting cutting-edge technology into the business, while empowering people to take action based on their business expertise and address problems with technology-driven solutions.
This small shift can create big impact, evident by G&J Pepsi’s development programme that armed their workers, who had little to no software development skills, with Microsoft’s cloud-based Power Apps tool. Soon enough, the company created eight applications without a single professional developer on staff, enabling the company to save $500,000 in the first year alone.
The new world is a cloud-first world
Technology has been a lifeline that sustained us through the pandemic, and it is redefining our reality by pushing a giant fast forward button to the future. With the acceleration of digital transformations, cloud is set to help businesses lead by outmanoeuvring uncertainty. Advanced cloud technology capabilities will provide the foundation for digital transformation and drive profound changes in how businesses operate, compete and create value for all their stakeholders. Cloud must be the new business imperative that companies adopt in order to continue scaling their businesses.