Businesses need to embrace digitalization on scale: Karan Bajwa, Google Cloud

Dataquest (DQ) Live, Cybermedia, hosted a webinar on Accelerate Your Business Growth, in the Ask Me Anything series, featuring Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, Google Cloud.

Opening the discussion, Bajwa said: “I will start by giving my lessons and learnings. A lot has been spoken and written about Covid-19. We have never seen anything of such scale, expanse and longevity, ever. How do we respond to this? How do we recover? How do we adjust to the new normal? How do we build on the new normal?

“The old ways of working may not hold good anymore. All of our assumptions around the last two months have been demolished. There will be huge pressure on all of the CEOs to drive their businesses and growth. We will all need to find new ways to survive and grow. When such events have happened in the past, we did go into a zone of uncertainty for a little while, and got back.

Karan BajwaDQI Bureau | DATAQUEST

“The customer patterns emerging are of essential services, like groceries, hospitals, telecom networks, etc. These folks need agile solutions that can rapidly scale up, and down, for delivering their services. Non-essential services have not yet come back. Now, everyone has had a BCP.

“However, most of us did not have BCPs that could talk about the breadth and depth of this crisis. We need to re-assess the BCP, based on the new normal. There are folks busy with transformation. Businesses need to embrace digital transformation or digitalization on scale. We need to be ready, should the situation ever come back.

“We have been focused on two things – serving and democratization of technology. There are two types of customers. One, for whom having options is not a bad thing. They can adopt the multi-cloud environment. Two, there are others who put have everything at the table. Keep every option open! Keep your BCP open! We need to find a life.”

Emerging business model
Pradeep Gupta, CMD, Cybermedia, spoke about the business strategy. He asked what could be the new emerging business model?

Bajwa replied that there will be huge transition right now. This also offers us an opportunity to completely change the way that we embrace technology. Technology adoption has been fairly tier-based, for now. There is a need to remove the elitism from all of this. Just transforming, every capital dollar will be very useful. There is need to focus more on the consumer expense. Re-aligning your organization’s structure is also very important. People need to be super strong and be aligned with the new ways of working. The use of technology will surely go up.

Gupta added that the problem is with the mindset. There will be evolution in technologies, such as videoconferencing, email, collaboration tools, project management, etc.

Bajwa noted that technology is at the core of why and how we are functioning. We are able to do stuff much faster, and better. We also need to salute all of our telecom companies. They have stood up and risen to the occasion. There are frontline warriors as well. It is now also about testing technology, and trying out new technology. We need to simply learn from the others. The cost of failure is so low.

Suddenly, videos is the hottest thing in town. Your ability to collaborate has much different meaning right now. We are seeing everything from the lens of a good video platform. We have to build a flexible, remote environment. There are much more bolder ways of doing things. There are better ways to access corporate networks. After Covid-19, it is our option to do things, better.

According to TCS, post-Covid-19, 75% of the TCS employees will permanently work from home by 2025, from 20%. That means, your workplace cost literally comes down by 75%, minimum. As you go back to work, everything should be at your table.

Focus on security
Next, Gupta raised the topic of security to be an issue. How does it work with everything moving out?

Prakhar from Google said that we have come to a point where security is a parameter inside the walls of a company. In today’s time, devices have moved out. Security has been addressed via firewalls. How do you onboard the new employees? The dynamics of security has changed. Zero trust security is again in vogue now. How can I make sure that the employees are mobile? Each request is contextualized and validated. We also look at the user identity, device, and ensure that there are right access policies in place. Authorization, authentication and routing are the three key parameters.

In that case, how do you ensure bonding between teams? Bajwa said we will have to do things and surprise our people. There are open office hours. The whole ability to work and have fun was suddenly gone. We need to respect that not all homes are made for people to work from home. We had a session, recently. People also sang and performed. They need to further stretch their imagination. This Covid-19 will probably go on for long. We will have to think of ways to bring some energy into work.

Next, are there any sectors likely to grow in the near future? Bajwa added that people who are the responders,  and are seeing an escalated demand, they need to be able to do things fast, and manage tomorrow. There are also people who are building for the new world. People will also get used to the online experience. Banking has been fairly restrained by regulations. Some restrictions should be lowered for the banks to allow them to work in a more expansive manner.

Pradeep Gupta also brought up SAP and how it is there on Google Cloud. How can people get symmetrical services Bajwa agreed that SAP is available on Google Cloud. There are a whole lot of capabilities available now. There is GDPR compliance. Prakhar also added that SAP is available on Google Cloud. Enterprises can reach out to Google. A bunch of companies have adopted GCP (Google Cloud Platform). We are slightly differentiated with security.

Bajwa added that there will be a multi-cloud world in the future. However, not everything can shift to the cloud. There should be flexibility with the on-prem and the on-cloud. People are also worried about being tied down to a platform. You will now have the flexibility of moving your resources. Automation via AI/ML will become prevalent. WFH is way beyond video.

MSMEs, SMEs and skills
Another question asked was: what will happen to the skills process? Bajwa said that human interactions are very relevant. Right now, we are forced to not have that. We should find a balance where we can do things better, remotely. We are having a real conversation. For example, it takes a huge expense to bring the same people to attend a conference. Some of the physical experience will be lost, but virtually, we will learn much faster. People also want to learn. They want a good experience.

On, how will Google support startups, Bajwa added that there are startups that were fundamentally solving a problem. They will come back. There were some others, who were not solving a problem. Google is perhaps, the best technology company. It provides technology to everyone. We democratize technology. We are, where possible, supporting them.

And, how can Google help the SMEs? He said that India has a very interesting pyramid, with Mumbai (or New York) on the top. The mid-market is the real India. It has been serviced in a fragmented manner. That’s one reason MSMEs and SMEs have not really been able to absorb technology. That will change! There are incredible options available out there. SMEs have to break the old way of embracing technology. They do not have to worry about technology and scale. Every MSME should also look at a consumption of the technology. We are helping SMEs and MSMEs in every possible way.

For the unemployed, he said that Google is trying to make sure that the access to technology is given so that it lowers the entry barrier. For any enterprise, who is facing a problem, we are offering high-end video capability. We have given them the permission to use this technology, without cost. We went ahead and opened the capability to any consumer. We have seen a 30X multiplier increase among the users. This included the large enterprises as well. We are taking technology further down, making it available to anyone. Google Maps will give people the capability to know where food is being supplied by the NGOs and the government.

Lastly, in the post Covid-19 era, are we heading to a cloud economy? Bajwa noted if we go back to the old ways, it will be a lost opportunity. BCP should allow you to work remotely for ever. Consumption economy should be the new world.

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