Is your cloud estate ready for next-generation technology?   

Next-generation technologies will require an enterprise cloud computing estate capable of delivering groundbreaking opportunities    

The decade of cloud computing 

We’re now entering the decade of cloud computing. There are numerous business leaders who’ll argue that the last decade was dedicated to the adoption of enterprise cloud computing. But, the events of 2020 and the global COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated that many organisations, and vertical markets, haven’t yet fully realised the value of cloud computing. 

Failure to learn the lessons of 2020 will see organisations struggle to adapt to the complete reshaping of their sectors by the wave of next-generation technologies  technologies that use the power of cloud computing. New methods for managing data, business processes, transactions, communications, connectivity – and even interaction with devices – will transform the workplace and the customer experience. Each and every one of these technologies depends on the organisation having a cloud computing estate and capabilities in place. Without the right estate and abilities in place, organisations will not be able to benefit from the opportunities afforded by the next generation of technologies.   

Technology a cornerstone of economic health  

Technology analysts Gartner have found that 60% of CEOs expect an economic boom during 2021 and 2022, while many expect economic levels to be the same as 2019 this year. Meanwhile, the 2021 Gartner CEO Survey: The Year of Rebuildingstates that many of these CEOs expect technology to be a cornerstone of the return to economic health. AI, blockchain and 5G connectivity were cited by respondents as being at the forefront of new developments and increased technology competition between the USA and China. 

Research organisation ESI ThoughtLab also finds that AI is set to radically transform organisations; it finds that two-thirds of senior executives globally believe that AI will be vital to the future of their organisations, meaning they’ll increase their AI investment.   

In addition, and although much hyped, the ledger technology, blockchain, is forecast to receive US$6.6 billion in spending during 2021, an increase of 50% according to research by the International Data Corporation (IDC) in its study Worldwide Blockchain Spending Guide. The IDC expects blockchain to maintain strong adoption up to 2024.

“This is an important time in the blockchain market as enterprises across markets and industries continue to increase their investment in the technology,” James Wester, IDC Research Director, said in a statement about the research. “The pandemic highlighted the need for more resilient, more transparent supply chains, healthcare delivery, financial services, and so much more, and enterprises around the world have been investing in blockchain to provide that resiliency and transparency.”   

5G connectivity was set to have a stellar year of implementations in 2020 and, although the global lockdown has slowed momentum, it hasn’t entirely stalled these plans, with existing 5G users demanding greater innovation in both services and apps.   

The future is now   

The future is already here and delivering business benefits. Utility firm, Thames Water, has deployed Internet of Things (IoT) sensors into the water network and coupled the data flowing from its systems to its Microsoft Azure enterprise cloud platforms to provide monitoring that allows the UK’s largest water company to carry out predictive maintenance of its network. This benefits the customer meets regulatory demands and lowers the cost of doing business.   

“Now we’re using AI to look at the data coming off acoustic loggers, and we have found there is enough difference in the signal to predict leakages and be proactive,” Digital Transformation Director, Mike Potter, said in a recent interview. Source level data is providing insight rather than just an alarm.”

Cloud proven  

Organisations with a strong cloud computing estate were able to respond to the pandemic more readily and will be better placed to flex their organisations according to changes that arise in the new economy. In the public sector, HMRC launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPR) within weeks of the pandemic forcing a national lockdown and putting the national economy at risk. Director of Strategy, Architecture and Innovation at HMRC, Antony Collard, says the cloud-based HMRC Multi-Channel Digital Tax Platform formed the backbone of this rapid response. “Our Multi-Channel Digital Tax Platform (MDTP) allowed us to build flexibly, quickly and securely. It took exactly a month to deliver the CJRS. 99% of the technology used to build the services existed on our estate already.” 

“Covid-19 has accelerated the move to cloud computing,” adds Ramona Fuchs, Head of Strategic Partnerships at eSynergy Solutions. “We’ll see a lot more working together by the cloud providers to provide organisations and their leaders with the necessary tooling and customer excellence. As a professional service, that means we can provide more services and products to our CIO and CTO customers.”   

Essential agility 

The agility that organisations like HMRC have demonstrated is not only essential for responding to health emergencies; it will be equally essential to organisations looking to digitally transform. “The speed and scalability provided by cloud infrastructure is key to digital transformation,” says KuppingerCole’s Principal Analyst, Martin Kuppinger. “A cloud-first strategy ensures sufficient IT resources for internal service development and digital transformation projects as well as providing rapid access to the latest hardware and software.”

Enterprise cloud computing provides an opportunity to deliver new services and reduce costly and slow legacy technology and business processes. 

Accelerating the switch to digital 

Banking and retail have been undergoing a major transformation, but the pandemic has accelerated the switch to digital methods by consumers. Financial services organisations had to continue operating during the lockdown – and if they lacked the ability to deliver their services digitally – they let their customers down. Many customers won’t revert to their pre-pandemic banking and shopping behaviours, increasing the pressure on organisations in these sectors to build digital services – services that will rely on a cloud computing estate. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that online retail sales grew by 33.9%, one of the largest changes in a market dynamic recorded.

“As a bank, once you have decided to fully adopt cloud, it has profound implications,” OakNorth Bank CIO, Sean Hunter, said recently in an interview. “In the cloud, you have a new ecosystem. Because of the pandemic, the banks have realised that it would have been so much easier to respond to the lockdowns if they were fully in the cloud. For example, when we had to become a virtual business, we did a one-day test and then went into lockdown with no problems. In a way, the crisis has been a catalyst. A lot of our clients have revealed they could not move as fast as we did.”

Sectors undergoing a major shift 

According to business technology analysts, IDC, sectors such as banking that had been slow to adopt next-generation technologies are undergoing a major shift in attitude, with real interest and investment by corporations, financial institutions, and even governments in areas they previously viewed with some uncertainty. The business advisory group, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), agrees and says that, as banks look to safeguard themselves from the post-pandemic change, they’ll have to accelerate digitisation with an emphasis on cloud adoption to gain agility and resilience.

As the 2020s advance and respond to the pandemic-led shift in customer behaviour, the decade will be defined by cloud computing; businesses that have had an advanced cloud computing footprint have been able to respond to new demands from citizens and customers. As a new form of customer behaviour shapes the economy, organisations cannot afford to not fully realise the potential of the cloud. New technologies are rapidly changing vertical markets, releasing insight from data – enabling new customer interactions. Without the right cloud technologies in place, organisations will be unable to adopt these technologies or compete in the new post-pandemic economy. 

Read how eSynergy can enable business transformation by utilising cloud technologies