Cloud is already part of modern business. But many South African enterprises are only using a fraction of its capabilities. For these businesses, the key to future-proofing their operations may lie in embracing the technology’s full potential: Cloud 2.0.
Cloud has become accepted as an indispensable part of modern business technology during the pandemic. It delivered unprecedented computing power, scalability, cost efficiencies and low latency by moving organisations’ technology off site, into a serverless Cloud environment. This not only led to safer work during the lockdown months; it also drove better customer experiences.
Businesses realised Cloud gave them resilience against power disruptions; the scale to service customers anywhere, at any time; and agility for remote collaboration. A recent TCS survey showed 37% of respondents said they made progress toward cloud-enabled innovation in the form of new business models, underlining the growing power of Cloud to drive new revenue.
However, the quick adoption meant that not every business knew how best to use the full potential of Cloud. Its true transformative power is being unleashed today as cloud computing enters a higher stage of evolution, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML); edge and quantum computing; as well as other next-generation advances.
In South Africa, for businesses to move towards the next phase of Cloud will mean taking a broader vision and understanding that Cloud is not just about technology, but holistic business transformation.
From Cloud transformation to business transformation
Cloud has become the binding digital fabric of many global enterprises. The next step in the adoption of the technology will see it becoming the key force accelerating perpetual business value. This involves exploiting the true power of Cloud across three layers – application, data infrastructure and machine learning – at the edge.
TCS has been able to help many of our customers in their cloud-transformation journeys. We do so through our long-standing partnerships with hyperscalers, such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services.
Health transformation Health insurers are developing rapid digital pathways to store and analyse data on the Cloud, to allow their customers to access healthy-lifestyle rewards, as well as better premiums.
Insurance on the Cloud Insurance clients have been able to scale up their conversational AI platforms through the Cloud, allowing them to make their customer service more agile and responsive across multiple channels.
Central to this Cloud 2.0 transformation is “innovation at the edge”, where data is processed close to where it is gathered instead of at a central command point.
Effective edge applications might also include farming at the edge, where irrigation is optimised to boost crop yield; banking on the cloud, where AI is used to reduce bad loans; and airport optimisation, where ML algorithms enable automated decision-making to improve passenger flows.
Cloud 2.0 enables autoscaling, which liberates developers from mundane DevOps tasks, so they can focus on building future solutions for their organisations. No-code and low-code solutions offered in Cloud 2.0 also now allow almost anybody to put ideas into development.
If the first era of Cloud innovation was a process of organisations modernising their core technology, the Cloud 2.0 era is about using integrating cloud-native capabilities for innovative new business models.
Three horizons to purpose-led growth
The roadmap of this cloud transformation is critical to businesses. To really unlock the potential of Cloud, the first step or “horizon 1” is about laying a strong digital core with cloud, as the unifying digital fabric. Organisations focus on modernising the core technology — infrastructure, applications, and data — while migrating workloads to the cloud to achieve greater business elasticity and operational resilience.
The next step or “horizon 2” is about innovating business models. Organisations combine the power of digital technologies to enable transformation at an operating model level, reaping significant benefits from innovation and improvements in customer experience and business insights.
A higher-order transformation or “horizon 3”, is to effectively use ecosystems for transformation and growth. This involves effective collaboration with other partners (government, academia, start-ups, competitors) to create ecosystems that will drive new business models.
Whether it’s to build healthier communities or to sustain our planet for future generations, more organisations are already looking to collaborate with competitors and partners across industries, government and academia. Cloud platforms enable this.
The ultimate outcome will be resilient, future-proof organisations, and an evolved understanding of the role of business. And this purpose-led transformation will be built on Cloud. In Cloud 2.0, technology is not something to adopt, but a strategy for business transformation – and growth itself.
- Langa Dube, Country Head & Director at TCS South Africa & Rest of Africa