Digital transformation remains a top priority for this year, with remote work, digital transactions, customer interactions, and business collaboration all requiring flexible, personalized solutions. Cloud is the essential orchestrator and backbone behind everything digital.
As cloud providers see continued growth and cloud migration projects abound, we should stop to ask --why?
Yes, the cloud can scale infrastructure, applications, and data services at speed as demand shifts. We don’t think about cloud powering our digital apps, teleconferencing, collaboration tools, remote work and education, video streaming, telehealth, and more (until there’s an outage) -- but it does.
As organizations innovate their business strategies and implement their 2021 technology roadmaps, a cohesive cloud strategy can address four major challenges facing organizations -- digital work, data modernization, integrated business solutions (e.g., AI), and social impact.
1. Cloud and the future of work
During 2020, organizations embraced a work from anywhere (WFA) model that accelerated the use of cloud collaboration tools, video conferencing, cloud applications, and cloud infrastructure to support work. Where in January 2020, only 3% of full-time employees worked remotely, by April 2020 that number increased to 64%, according to SHRM -- with 81% of the global labor force impacted by May 2020 according to the International Labor Organization. In response, one cloud collaboration platform vendor reported it almost quadrupled its active daily users for that period. As organizations and the workforce embrace the digital workplace, the future of work will be powered by the cloud.
Additionally, organizations have realized on-premise data centers require access to the “workplace,” which will remain a challenge in 2021 that can be solved by cloud data centers. Those with essential workers have embraced innovative cloud native digital solutions to protect workers and advance the HR technology strategy.
2. Cloud data platforms and ecosystems
The cloud can enhance information sharing and collaboration across data platforms and digital ecosystems. Deloitte research shows 84% of physicians expect secure, efficient sharing of patient data integrated into care in the next five to 10 years. Real world evidence will be critically important in enhancing digital healthcare with historical patient data, real-time diagnostics, and personalized care. Organizations can leverage the cloud for greater collaboration, data standardization, and interoperability across their ecosystem. Research shows digital business ecosystems using cloud experience greater customer satisfaction rates, with 96% of organizations surveyed saying their brand is perceived better and saw improved revenue growth -- with leaders reporting 6.7% average annual revenue growth (vs. 4.9% reported by others).
3. Cloud for integrated business applications
New Cloud ML approaches for developers and data scientists have become available. These include Cloud AI platforms where organizations bring their existing AI models into the cloud; Cloud ML services where organizations can tap into pretrained models, frameworks, and general-purpose algorithms; and AutoML services to augment their AI teams. In the retail sector, organizations have embraced cloud ML to create digital businesses and predict shifting customer demands. Financial services organizations have used the cloud to modernize legacy lending applications for small businesses during the crisis. And, in the technology, media, and telecommunications sector, the cloud is powering your favorite video streaming service.
As organizations rely on the cloud, cloud security becomes increasingly important for data integrity and workload and network security. Information leakage, cloud misconfiguration, and supply chain risk are the top concerns for organizations. A federated security model, zero trust approach, and robust cloud security controls can help to remediate these risks, increase business agility, and improve trust.
4. Cloud innovation and social impact
Finally, organizations are innovating new “intelligent edge” computing architectures by combining cloud, edge, AI, AR/VR and digital twin technologies that tap into the potential of the spatial web. The innovation and social impact potential are tremendous. Smart buildings have the potential to better report on energy consumption across a smart grid network with the cloud. Farms can benefit from precision agriculture solutions. The potential to use cloud to innovate for business and social impact is a rapidly maturing opportunity for the social enterprise.
From cloud possible to cloud now
As organizations develop their 2021 cloud strategies, without a doubt, 2020 will shape the agenda. The pandemic has shown organizations what’s cloud possible. It has dramatically shifted leadership, employee, and customer expectations on how digital transformation should be supporting their needs with cloud now -- supporting the future of work, data platforms and ecosystems, integrated AI and cyber strategies, and the social good agenda.
Diana Kearns-Manolatos is a strategic business leader with 13+ years of experience developing and delivering differentiated insights and award-winning communications programs. As senior manager in Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research, she works to strategize, analyze, and create industry-leading research and insights on business and technology transformation with a focus on cloud and the future of the workforce. Diana is an author of nine books on digital transformation and a subject-matter expert and frequent speaker on AI, blockchain, cloud, digital ecosystems, and diversity.