The Cloud Imperative: What Every Business Needs to Know Now

Few aspects of IT have created such a buzz in recent years as the cloud. It’s undoubtedly the place to be – for good reason. Lower infrastructure costs, greater flexibility and new opportunities for innovation only begin to scratch the surface of potential benefits. Cloud-based business was growing at 2x before COVID-19, and that gap is even wider now. The pandemic has quickly revealed which companies were one disruption away from being upended, and which have bet on agility, resilience and ultimately the cloud to now come out ahead.

According to recent IDC research, cloud software and infrastructure spending in Canada will increase by 77% by 2023, and public cloud spending will grow from $5.8 billion to over $10.3 billion. Evidently, cloud is at the heart of getting businesses “future ready,” but many enterprises are struggling – whether it’s with adoption and scaling, an unclear definition of the business case for transformation, or lack of support within the organization.

To mitigate business risk and think beyond survival, companies must recognize the cloud imperative and embrace the promise. Five essential elements can guide the way for enterprises to map out their cloud journey and capture its full value.

1- Migrate and scale up.

As businesses update their strategies for driving value amid a pandemic, their first step should be identifying where in the organization cloud services and infrastructure can increase resilience. Selling the value of cloud, particularly to those at the top, is also necessary to maximize its benefits to the business. From a corporate standpoint, migration can seem like a lot of effort for little return. However, cloud is frequently proving to be the backbone for agility, experimentation and faster reactions to changing market demands.

Moving from legacy applications and systems to fully embracing the cloud thus requires a systematic framework that addresses immediate needs – including technology, operations and financials – while leaving room for future transformation potential. With everyone – and every part of the business – on board, it’s easier to set clear, achievable goals for cloud to create meaningful impact within the enterprise.

Del Monte Foods, Inc. accelerated business growth through the cloud with access to real-time customer insights for informed decision making. Leveraging Amazon Web Services, they were able to reduce IT spending costs by up to 35% and increase operating efficiencies by significantly reducing the time it takes for its professionals to receive IT capabilities, service and support from weeks to less than an hour.

2- Get the most from the hyperscalers.

Accenture research shows up to 55% of companies say the “complexity of business and organizational change” is a significant barrier to achieving expected cloud results. To make their cloud migration truly soar, many companies will commit to a partnership with at least one of the major public cloud hyperscalers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. The major hyperscalers boast global reach, deep expertise, and numerous cloud services and industry-specific solutions. But some hyperscalers will be a better fit for a company than others in their approach to specific innovation agendas.

Every hyperscaler is on its own innovation journey, willing to put money on the table to kick-start a relationship. Having specialized end-to-end capabilities through a trusted partner is invaluable, particularly to ensure a swift, secure and smooth transformation – not to mention entirely hyper-personal, out of the box, in the cloud offerings.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)  partnered with Microsoft Azure allowing them to improve their security posture and benefit from advanced analytics capabilities, streamline processes across the organization, as well as create a sense of community and collaboration for their Future of Work program, leveraging Microsoft Teams. The partnership empowers CMHC to achieve new technology goals in their pursuit of making housing affordable for all.

3- Modernize and accelerate.

Embracing cloud is just the starting point; becoming a cloud-native enterprise requires businesses to modernize by building applications and services specifically for a cloud environment. The full suite of IT capabilities needs to be agile and adaptable in order to support accelerated cycles of product release and evolving consumer desires.

Becoming cloud native also requires becoming cloud fluent – a substantial undertaking, but one that is no doubt worth the work. That said, it should be noted modernization doesn’t happen overnight for even the most advanced and knowledgeable organizations. If there’s one thing COVID-19 should remind every business, it’s that planning for the unplanned is crucial. In fact, in light of the global pandemic, cloud technology is seeing many new applications, including being rapidly adopted to help workers maintain safe distances from each other. In the manufacturing sector, cloud can also unlock artificial intelligence solutions that spot defects and maintain quality without people needing to be physically present.

4- Manage and optimize.

As transformations continue, and businesses begin reaping the rewards of cloud, organizations must commit for the long term by continuously managing consumption, capacity, performance and, crucially, cost. This is where many cloud journeys falter.

The work-around is upskilling, reskilling and hiring the right talent for the job. Businesses need people who are proactive, anticipate spikes in consumption and react accordingly, and who understand all the business processes involved – old and new – and how they fit together. Adopting new ways of working, such as constantly monitoring and optimizing capacity, leveraging the latest and greatest services from cloud providers and hyperscalers, and managing costs through effective management in the cloud, will help push the business to ever higher levels of performance. This will also free teams from the burden of day-to-day cloud management and empower them to build up enterprise capabilities in areas that really differentiate the business.

Proving the value of the cloud in accelerating transformation, the Government of Canada, through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), launched a 2,600-person Amazon Web Services contact center in a matter of days to deal with spikes in call volume related to Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit program (CERB). In turn, they have been able to support millions of Canadians applying for financial relief since the start of the pandemic and quickly respond to evolving stakeholder needs.

5-Innovate and grow.

Moving forward, cloud will be the one-stop platform for reinvention and growth – and for unlocking the combined potential of advanced new technologies. According to Accenture’s latest Future Systems research, leading businesses are far ahead when it comes to adopting cloud technologies in order to effectively leverage other technologies, including artificial intelligence and analytics. An overwhelming 95% of Leaders see the cloud as a catalyst to innovation, compared to just 30% of Laggards.

Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that grants wishes to children with critical illnesses, wanted to continue to support children during the pandemic. Within one week, they were able to transition to remote working, and through Microsoft Azure and Power BI they now have more insights from their data than ever before, allowing them to improve processes and operations and save wish currency along the way.

Enterprises can fully leverage the speed provided by the cloud, alongside the benefits of working with cloud hyperscalers and other service providers, to move from surviving in the “now” to thriving in the “next.”

Cloud has proven its centrality to resilient operations and future competitive advantage. Now is the time for companies to get to cloud, get the value and get ready for the future – or risk their very existence.

About the author:
Vikas Shreedhar is a Managing Director and Cloud Lead for Canada at Accenture. With more than 20 years of experience bringing business led innovation and emerging technologies to his clients, Vikas has a passion for leading transformational technology projects for large Canadian organizations.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.

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