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Cloud Transformation: From Infrastructure to Verticals

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Over the past two years, organizations have become more resilient and have been efficiently utilizing the power of cloud especially by off-loading their infrastructure or business processes.  As a result, the cloud providers have been developing different solutions and accelerators to support the needs of the industry. These solutions have been helping in ease of business and enable organizations to embark the journey to digital transformation.

Cloud providers are now focusing on unique vertical needs for any organization. Hence, over the next foreseeable future with “cloud going vertical” is gaining momentum. Organization with perform assessment of their business process ecosystem considering cloud sourcing.  It will incrementally add efficiency and effectiveness to most of the processes and deliver competitive advantage.

Initially CIOs began with “lift and shift” on public cloud to gain efficiencies and operate at lower cost followed by optimization and modernization of applications and infrastructure. Onwards they are looking for availability of industry specific business process solutions expecting cloud providers to address need of modular business processes across industries and ecosystem.

The “big three” cloud services providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure—offer cloud-based industry solutions that automate business processes that are unique to sectors like manufacturing, financial services, automotive, healthcare, retail, and media, among others.

Hyperscalers began by creating infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities, which eventually elevated to platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). However, continued to enhance the technology stack by creating industry platforms to automate the required processes to be more efficient than on-premises solutions.  

As we explore the opportunities that the Cloud goes vertical trend may offer, consider taking the following steps:

  • Business and IT leaders should work together to determine where the organization generates value today and in the future. For this effort to succeed, the business must understand technology more deeply. Likewise, IT must understand business strategy and the critical role that technology plays in advancing it. Only then can both teams identify the technologies that are critical to achieving values.
  • Create an inventory of business processes and the cloud-based offerings that support them.
  • Identify which differentiating processes and enabling technologies to keep in-house. Likewise, identify areas in your business that could benefit from the emerging suite of technology offerings enabled by the cloud.
  • Work with cloud service providers, software vendors, and integrators to plan the next phase of your cloud journey.

In a time of disruption and rapid-fire innovation, access to best-in-class solutions or even experimental tools gives organizations the software options they need to connect all the dots in their multi-layered digital transformation strategies.

The need of cloud tailored specific industry verticals will evolve continuously as innovative solutions and services emerge. To maintain their competitive differentiation, organizations will need to embrace disruption, and stay on top of the latest industry cloud offerings. In an environment of rapid-fire change, the future is always approaching fast. Cloud technology can help organizations create not only the capacity to change, but the agility to do so continuously. The fewer systems and processes you have in-house today, the fewer you will have to manage, upgrade, and refresh tomorrow.

Few salient features that any vertical / industry cloud should provide

  • Cloud must provide most of the functionality needed for the industry out of the box, especially the commodity functions.
  • It must be an open platform that enables customers and partners to develop innovative solutions.
  • The platform needs to make it easy to connect and manage these solutions.
  • Allow customers to ramp up or scale down capacity and processes according to demand.
  • Enable easy access to other business and technology services.

Across all these features, your industry cloud should support your broader ecosystem. Let’s demonstrate with examples.

  • A manufacturing plant will try to operate in an agile way to run their production lines and continuously reconfigure to run with profitability. As of today’s, digital world, optimization can be achieved using machine learning (ML) models analyze order data to determine necessary machine configurations and the optimal sequence for filling orders. However, this can be achieved by using industry cloud helping manufacturers to scale their operations setting them apart from competitors.
  • Healthcare providers are collaborating with Hyperscalers, to transform the future of health care by creating ecosystem-driven platform businesses. Platforms are designed to provide clinical data driven insights using AI models.  Also, remote diagnostics is being done to improve patient care by enhancing diagnostic capabilities using industry clouds.
  • Similarly, financial services industry is co-designing new application infrastructure with common data models, cross-cloud connectors, workflows etc. This is in alignment with the bank’s cloud-first and multi-cloud strategy to provide better service, insights, and connectivity to clients and to enhance employee experiences by strengthening the bank’s entire business ecosystem.

These examples demonstrate that, what separates one from competitors is not most of the operations, it’s the 5-to-10% of the operations that are unique. When organizations move first to create new industry clouds, they can have greater control over key business and strategy decisions.

Embracing the cloud goes vertical trend doesn’t require some big bang effort. Indeed, it can be done in small, thoughtful steps that help you side-step complicated legacy app renewals or disruptive core modernization initiatives. And with each step, your systems become more efficient and effective. Ultimately, it’s about having the agility to develop the innovations that can truly make your organization unique.

The author is Mukul Singhal – Head – Digital and IT, Birlasoft.

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