Using industry cloud as a springboard will empower today’s organizations to transform how they think and operate, while also producing a significant return on investment.

4 Min Read
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In 2023, we envision companies will continue to try to do more with less. More will take the form of greater investment in technology; less will mean avoiding technology for technology’s sake. Instead, we’ll see the need to demonstrate ongoing ROI with initiatives that address industry-specific challenges.

At the same time, companies need to balance today's projects with longer-term innovation. Otherwise, they’ll be left behind. There are many promising breakthroughs; for example, generative AI and its application to function and industry specific use cases.

Before companies can go down the path to something new, however, they need to build a foundation of agility and focus, which is enabled through industry cloud. It will provide the basis to find new levels of efficiency, create business value, and lead to outcome-driven transformations that go beyond a single functional group.

Our recent Cloud Business Survey shows that leaders have started this journey, with 39% of executives pursuing improved resiliency and agility through cloud. From there, they can create clear use cases for innovation and begin to develop both internal skills and external partnerships to address rapid technology developments ahead.

Creating Agility Through Industry Cloud

Many executives now realize that cloud represents more than an infrastructure upgrade. Business strategies and the cloud are interdependent, standing on horizontal technology that creates a continuum of technology, people, and processes that supports end-to-end business journeys.

Upon this base, industry cloud -- generally defined as a collection of cloud-based platforms, products or services designed to provide industry-specific capabilities and address well defined use cases -- is layered to bolster agility and address more specific domains.

This will require making specific choices about how the cloud will help the organization differentiate. In other words, business, IT, and functional leaders should come together and ask: What digital and technology capabilities can we develop to solve which customer problems and better enhance the role the company plays in industry? How can this end-to-end digital transformation advance efficient and resilient innovation?

Upskilling for Now and What’s Next

This exceptional promise, however, isn’t realized as a singular destination. Rather, it’s a dynamic fabric that drives lasting strength and outcomes. And while they may be laser focused on cloud, many companies aren’t fully ready to reach these heights. New industry cloud capabilities and ensuing differentiators will take a new mindset and new skill sets.

Applying cloud in the same way to existing work models will have limited impact, so leaders need to rethink both internal ways of working and market-facing innovation. It’s typically a matter of optimizing (via cloud) versus replicating (on-premises approaches).

The shift to cloud has widened the gaps created by talent and skills shortages -- a divide that’s likely to be exacerbated by the very nature of the cloud; i.e., accelerated everything. The PwC Cloud Survey also shows that 52% of executives are concerned that a lack of skills in cloud architecture, cybersecurity, and DevOps will be an obstacle to realizing cloud value.

Companies truly committed to transforming through cloud must evolve their people strategies to get ahead. Developing and expanding programs that cultivate cloud skills is a starting point. Continuous learning is a must, as are recruiting new talent and leveraging third-party partners.

Innovation in Industry Cloud

Once the foundation of agility is in place, industry cloud paves the way for untold innovation. Take the metaverse: While applications might not be ubiquitous for another decade, companies can start working their way there now.

Near term, the metaverse is simply a different way to trial and experience different scenarios and situations that any business or customer may face. You can prototype, practice, and try new things in ways that are more cost-effective, faster, and less risky than ever before.

Whether the generative AI or some yet-to-emerge technology, the path to innovation starts at the end -- by defining the business outcome, and industry cloud allows organizations to radically rethink these possibilities.

Then, applying the technology -- again, a combination of pre-configured industry-specific software accelerators, robust cloud engineering, and managed services -- accelerates time to market and delivers fast (and meaningful) results.

With industry as the through line, harnessing cloud in all its forms has the potential to:

  • Generate new digital revenue streams

  • Enable sustainable competitive differentiation

  • Support smarter ways of working

  • Bring forth stronger data, micro and infrastructure services

  • Carry through frictionless customer experiences.

Companies that use industry cloud as a springboard to truly change how they think, operate, and do business will see the greatest payoffs.

About the Author(s)

Patrick Pugh

Principal, Global Microsoft Alliance and Transformation Leader, PwC

Patrick Pugh, Principal in PwC's advisory services group and serves as PwC's Global Relationship Partner and Global Alliance Leader for Microsoft. He is also the Go to Market Leader for Strategic Change within Organization and Workforce Transformation for US Advisory. Patrick has helped with a range of strategy, business transformation and change management efforts for many leading global companies. Patrick has led a range of strategy, enterprise architecture and transformation, deals (integration, divestitures and joint ventures), talent transformation, and sales and contact effectiveness engagements. He has 25+ years experience working with Fortune 500 technology, communications, online, and entertainment and media clients.

Prior to working at PwC, Patrick worked in the change management competency group at Andersen Consulting/Accenture and as a strategy consultant at Adventis, a leading management consulting firm to the telecommunications and networked industry. He holds dual degrees from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, including a BBA in Organizational Behavior/Business Policy and Marketing and a BA in Anthropology. He also earned his MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, MA, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and was named Valedictorian.

Matt Hobbs

Microsoft Practice and US Alliance Leader, PwC

My mission, empowering clients to realize the full value of their digital investments with cloud while decreasing risk. Combining Microsoft’s transformative technology and PwC’s extensive industry experience, I help clients grow and be more resilient.

By creating business and industry-specific solutions built on Microsoft technology, I advise organizations on how to achieve sustainable growth and lasting innovation. Being able to navigate complex challenges and build meaningful relationships with team members and clients is what allows me to deliver long-term impact.

I’m passionate about fostering the next generation of tech leaders. Outside of work, you’ll find me spending time with my wife and two boys, woodworking or listening to classic rock.

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