India is no stranger to cloud technologies. But there is still a perceivable lag in its journey towards cloud adoption. One could attribute this sluggishness to multiple factors – from the lack of well-rounded or clearly defined policies to inadequate funding or delayed access to technology breakthroughs in the field. But the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated India’s push towards cloud transformation in a move that holds immense potential for the country’s business sectors.
Since the dawn of the decade, there has been a relentless focus on integrating innovative technologies into the business landscape. These technologies hold the potential to make business operations more fluid and flexible. Every few decades, the IT industry sees itself at the cusp of a paradigm shift that furthers its ability to rise to new challenges and deliver better outcomes. Cloud transformation constitutes one such instance.
The business potential of IT has increased manifold since the early 2000s. Digital adoption has skyrocketed, resulting in a massive explosion of data. Businesses need improved scalability and lower latency that in turn translates to more agility and faster turnaround time. These demands, in addition to the pursuit of increased competitive sustainability, are driving the market today. In such a competitive scenario, companies that are seriously eyeing a share of the marketplace have two options:
- They can power their technology requirements in-house, doing everything from purchasing the IT infrastructure to writing the code, testing, and running it – activities that require tremendous time and effort.
- They can buy plug-and-play components, customize them using minimum code and be up and running in a globally compatible ecosystem in virtually no time.
Cloud speaks to scenario #2, where it offers CTOs the potential to innovate and launch ideas faster, with better accuracy and more cost-effectiveness. It becomes a formidable ally for enterprises that wish to maintain a competitive standing in the market.
Cloud technologies pose a multitude of benefits to companies, including the following:
- The flexible, pay-as-you-go models offered by cloud platforms enable organizations to shift gears from a highly limiting Capex-centric model to an agile Opex model.
- Spikes in demand and seasonal variations can be catered to with a lower budget, without impacting performance or robustness.
- Businesses that aspire to go global can scale up within minutes or be up and running almost instantaneously.
- Component optimization is possible, as every aspect of any cloud platform is already researched thoroughly and reviewed by users across the world.
- Cloud empowers companies with predicted performance enabled through high levels of observability and transparency.
India and fintech: Head in the cloud
It’s true that when compared with developed economies, India’s journey to cloud adoption is yet to come of age. However, the pandemic has rigorously turned around this lackluster standing. It has steered Indian enterprises in the direction of the cloud, with a reported 60% or more planning to leverage the cloud in the near future, according to IDC.1
But more willingness to onboard cloud does not necessarily imply a clear road ahead. Even at a purely operational level, there are many challenges that Indian industries, especially the public sector, encounter on their journey to cloud, beginning with the basics – the how-tos.
Bold moves or baby steps?
Luckily, these problems have not percolated the roots of India’s privately owned financial services space or its booming fintech sector. Fintech in India comprises some globally renowned private players, a testament to its ambition to evolve into a product innovation hub. In a business-as-usual scenario, cloud offers little or no challenges to such organizations. Nevertheless, fintech and FIs need to be prepared for unprecedented scenarios, particularly given the sensitive nature of their business. These sectors need utmost transparency in how their data and IP are being controlled, where their applications are hosted, the risks involved, and so on. They also need to be certain about the strategic goals behind cloud transformation and should go in with a clear exit strategy in the event that the vendor is unable to deliver to these goals. They need to be wary of vendor lock-ins; these limit the efficiency of their cloud operating model.
A planned foray into cloud computing can deliver fantastic results. We have witnessed this in many cases, including Axis Bank, which made tremendous progress in increasing its customer base and boosting productivity through cloud enablement. Having a cloud transformation committee would help govern the nuances of cloud adoption, including feasibility checks, weighing costs, benefits, and returns, and tracking progress. Going in without a committee may at the very least lead to unnecessary gridlocks and delayed progress.
In the last few years, we have seen a lot of hype around cloud and the benefits it has to offer. In the Indian context, these benefits depend on how effectively we can channelize the cloud operating strategy while involving key stakeholders and dedicated transformation committees and leveraging newer pricing and operating models. Having a clearly articulated operating model and the right skill base are instrumental to getting the cloud strategy right, as is having the keenness and willingness to adopt. Organizations need to be willing to go the extra mile and explore what’s new and exciting on the horizon, while not buckling down under the pressure to circumvent risks. Only then can they realize the full potential of the cloud and the paradigm-shifting benefits it stands to offer.
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