Siva S, CEO of Powerupcloud, Global Cloud Practice Head at LTI
So, here we are. May 2020. It has been 3 months since the Covid-19 pandemic started impacting the global economy and with it the business functions globally. This has not been a smooth ride for governments, businesses, entrepreneurs, and most importantly, the people. I have been actively speaking to several CIOs, CEOs of global businesses with operations in the USA, UK, Germany, France, UAE, SouthAfrica, India, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. The business sentiments and decisions seem to follow a similar pattern irrespective of the country or government or the business itself. That’s the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had so far on all of us.
In this article, I would be covering the major trends we are witnessing w.r.to public cloud adoption and the change in priorities based on our customer and OEM interactions.
- Cloud Cost Optimization: The highest demand we see is with the cost optimization of cloud spend at businesses that are already on the cloud. Irrespective of their spending, be it $0.5M or $20M per year, reducing their cloud spend is a key focus for the CIOs. The ‘Save Now, Pay Later’ program that we launched which helps large businesses save cloud costs with the help of our cloud governance platform – www.cloudensure.io has seen a massive uptake with our global customers due to the nature of the program. The gain-share model, where our success fee is a % of cost savings we bring to the client, thus bringing in a win-win situation for both the vendor and the client, seems exactly what the businesses need at this time of the hour.
- Remote Workforce Enablement: This is the second area where we see high demand from our enterprise customers. Be it migration to virtual desktops on cloud or launching a fully scalable virtual contact center on the cloud or adopting virtual collaboration platforms, CIOs are keen to explore technologies that will improve the productivity of their employees working from home. With most businesses taking a call to have their employees work from home till the end of 2020, enabling their remote workers with technology that aids them to work better is at the top of the agenda for businesses. Check out our Remote Workforce Enablement program.
- Data Analytics on Cloud: While most of the businesses I interact have literally stopped their big-bang data transformation exercises, they, however, do not want to stop the adoption of cloud for their data environments. We are witnessing a trend wherein customers are identifying their business-critical applications and moving them to cloud including the data layer for 2 reasons – 1. to improve the availability and reliability of the data layer powering these applications 2. to feed the data lake with data in real-time which will allow them to run ML models on the fly. This trend is most likely to follow for the next 12 months. The best part is, by the end of 12 months, businesses who follow this approach will have most of their critical applications running on the cloud with a centralized data approach.
- Large Scale Cloud Migrations: Plans to migrate the entire data center to the cloud is seeing a mixed response. I am interacting with a couple of CIOs of large manufacturing businesses in the EU & USA who are going ahead with their plans to migrate completely to the public cloud platforms. These companies have workloads in the nature of 15000+ servers, 1000+ applications. Their argument, a valid one, is to do this entire migration when the manufacturing activity is at its lowest due to COVID-19 impact. But this represents just 10% of our total migration pipeline.
- Continuous Cloud Adoption: Most of the other industries are adopting the concept of ‘continuous cloud adoption’ model where they subscribe for a ‘Cloud POD’ (a 6 member team comprising cloud architects, cloud engineers, and a project manager) for a 12 month period. The Cloud POD will work with the customer to identify the key applications and migrate them to the cloud in a sequential manner. This allows the customer to continue their cloud adoption, enabling businesses with better reliability for their key applications and helping the CFO with moving to an OPEX model on an incremental basis. My vote goes to this approach as this model brings in more flexibility to the CIOs. They can use the Cloud POD for security & governance implementations or cost optimization by pausing the migration activity when the situation demands.
- AI/ML Adoption: Many artificial intelligence solutions that used to be a hard sell to businesses all these years are seeing a voluntary increased adoption by businesses in these last 3 months and we expect this trend to continue for the next 2 years to come. Chatbots, for example, has seen a 200% increase in demand in this period. We are seeing requirements from building customer support chatbots to internal employee engagement HRMS chatbots to ease the dependency on the human support system to fulfill the end-user needs. Banks, Insurance companies, eCommerce players, OTT platforms, Healthcare organizations, Educational institutes are the ones that often feature in our chatbot requirements pipeline. AI+RPA is another area of focus where businesses are focusing on implementing AI & RPA technologies either in combination or stand alone to automate some of their business processes.
The bottom line is, for almost all the businesses cash conservation is the primary focus. But at the same time, they cannot afford to completely stop their digital transformation journey. The key here is to balance these 2 things so that they are better prepared when the global economy comes back on track. Businesses that take aggressive decisions on either end of the spectrum will see a greater risk of failure. It is completely fine to continue to take an ‘ambiguous’ approach and keeps things in balance instead of boiling the ocean.
Cash conservation should be your primary focus. But don’t stop your digital transformation journey.