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How the cloud based tech industry has transformed during the pandemic

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Subi Sethi, Chief Client Officer, Clearwater Analytics

By Subi Sethi, Chief Client Officer, Clearwater Analytics 

Covid-19 has driven a fundamental shift in business architecture assumptions. The cloud computing environment (CCE) is an unsung hero in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis as it is one of the few sectors which has emerged stronger than ever before and businesses are responding to the sudden uptick in demand and interest for the infrastructure. Employees primarily working from home have increased their dependence on cloud computing (CC) applications that help them accomplish their tasks efficiently. Even before the pandemic, customers of tech infrastructure companies were increasingly seeking the ability to transition to a variable-cost model for their core computing, storage, and networking capabilities. They were looking at cloud-style offerings and pay-as-you-go services to enable this transition. The current crisis has only intensified this preference and accelerated cloud adoption by Indian enterprises of all sizes to fast track their decisions to shun the legacy infrastructure and move their operations — in piecemeal or in full — to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-powered clouds.

Trends and strategic changes: 

Cloud has moved from being a relatively back-end (storage) to a front-end (business facing) technology, enabling on-demand access to resources, flexibility in scaling, cost reduction, and business continuity. It is not just a crucial innovation platform for companies and countries, it even helps address societal problems. The pandemic has accelerated this cloud shift, with even conventional industries like education and manufacturing fast-tracking its adoption. As per the State-Of-AI-Global-Survey by McKinsey, organisations are going to invest even more in cloud-based infrastructure in the upcoming months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many companies realised the importance of data they collect on a daily basis, they wanted tools to harvest value out of this data and present it too, whether internally or externally. Many cloud providers had realised this opportunity and had been building robust tools already. To give a typical example, Amazon Web Services (who publicises their product roadmaps to be heavily driven by customer needs) had added 20+ new features in their BI tool offering called Amazon QuickSight just in 2020, including the QuickSight Launch in the Mumbai region. Many other cloud-based BI tools are innovating at a similar pace.

Pre-Covid-19, most businesses had just begun their cloud migration journeys, however post the pandemic, remote working scenarios have underlined the vitality of the cloud for business continuity with remote workforces and seamless online collaboration. With the increased cloud adoption throughout the year, the industry has proved its transformational potential by helping modernise and empower communities around the world. Cloud is able to address today’s business challenges and now we’re seeing a second wave of tech spending, in which enterprises adopt technology to make operations easier and simply keep their doors open. 

The second wave of adaptation has also pushed many companies to embrace the cloud. Similarly, the difficulty of maintaining a traditional data center during a pandemic has pushed many companies to finally shift to cloud infrastructure under Covid. 

India’s small and medium businesses (SMBs) present a huge untapped opportunity. A recent NASSCOM study indicates that while over 60 per cent of this SMB survey’s respondents have adopted cloud, nearly 50 per cent are still at a nascent stage and only about 15 per cent are advanced users. In addition to cloud adoption, companies across sectors are spending on technologies to reduce their reliance on humans.  Undoubtedly, this pandemic has validated the value of digital transformation for many people and it has been a buzzword over the last few months, with SMBs as well as large enterprises moving operations to the cloud and adopting online productivity and collaboration services. 

For the rest of 2021, there is going to be a major focus area for all cloud-based businesses, where they are going to provide more streaming-based analytical services by adding real-time insights to their offerings. This offers the gateway to serving business specific to the region in terms of service, latency, and availability and thereby contributing towards business continuity by eliminating downtime. It also offers better network and security management, avoiding or eliminating disruption of operations with increased service availability. Although India has made significant progress in terms of cloud adoption and utilisation, the technology can still be leveraged further to address issues of national and social importance. New cloud opportunities are emerging in areas like collaboration and contactless tools, security, artificial intelligence, and analytics and the country’s national and state governments are playing a critical role in promoting cloud adoption which further highlights the importance of cloud computing for businesses. 

The central government’s Cloud Vision for India 2022 aims to establish India as a global hub for cloud computing, content hosting, and delivery and data communication systems and services. This can be done by showcasing best-in-class success stories that communicate the benefits in terms of return-on-investment and other metrics. We also need structured multi-lingual training programmes that define the business use case of cloud and various aspects of the adoption journey.

The cloud is a game-changer on many levels, and companies have benefitted particularly from scalability and reliable connectivity during this Covid-19 crisis. Cloud adoption can boost successful digital transformation efforts by defining a tech-architectural approach, an investment strategy, and a staffing model that ensures that businesses can achieve balance across dimensions. Cloud infrastructure has been the backbone for multiple technological innovations that have helped enhance livelihoods and increased the prosperity of citizens across regions and in core sectors such as agriculture, finance, retail, healthcare, non-profit, and government. This technology can empower India both at the business and individual levels.

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