The cloud is a powerful transformational agent for emerging markets, but only when dovetailed with other emerging and evolving digital technologies to deliver complete solutions. The International Data Corporation or IDC’s top 10 predictions for IT, 2019, says that by 2022, 40% of organizations’ cloud developments will execute artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. IDC forecasts that by 2022, any endpoint device on a cloud-enabled network will be performing AI-driven inferencing and relying on machine learning algorithms to continually ‘learn’ which predictive analytics algorithm works best for a specific situation. Without these new technologies, the cloud would only be a tool that provides flexibility in terms of ramp up/ramp down and the lower costs of shared resources. It is the coming together of newer technologies which give the cloud its power to transform companies and societies.
Cloud is the foundation for IoT, AI
Cloud computing provides an opportunity to create innovative solutions for the unique challenges faced by emerging markets. Technology disruptors like Internet of Things (IoT), AI-deep learning, and cognitive computing require massive technology infrastructure. Providing on-demand cloud computing makes newer technologies accessible for many organizations to adopt. Cloud computing is thus the foundation for technologies like IoT, AI, among others, which, coupled with mobile and smartphones as the endpoint for services consumption, make the entire gamut of technology infrastructure available for creating innovative solutions.
This can be demonstrated through a solution created by Happiest Minds for an e-commerce garments provider, which wanted to track the progress of each shirt during manufacturing. The aim was to have better predictability on order completion since it was crucial for planning the launch of a new line of shirts on their site. The company did not have enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and tracking was mostly done through paper and excel files, which were prone to errors. To solve this problem, Happiest Minds used IoT with cloud infrastructure. Since the shirt’s collar is made first, inserting an RFID chip into each collar enabled tracking at every stage (from stitching till order completion) through dashboards and analytics. This is a scenario where the garment industry, which did not even have ERP solutions, was able to leapfrog to IoT and cloud computing to have an order tracking solution as well as automated tracking of each shirt’s progress.
Scalability and lower costs
As compared to traditional approaches, cloud technology is relatively easier and cheaper to set up and manage. This makes the cloud more attractive to emerging economies as they can emulate the infrastructure of a developed nation at a fraction of the cost. Besides the flexibility that cloud technology offers to businesses, it is also scalable as per the needs of the organization or the industry, thereby enabling emerging markets to save considerable time as well as spendings on IT infrastructure. While flexibility and scalability help lower the provider’s costs, the real benefits lie in lower costs for the user. For example, Happiest Minds built a solution called ‘Midas’ on its IoT platform for BLP, an Indian company which manages over 30 global renewable energy farms. This enabled predictive analytics of generated power, assets diagnostics, and predictive power based on wind and solar data. The objective was to provide scalability as the number of farms and the volume of data increased, thereby providing cost-effectiveness. This demonstrates how, through cloud technologies, a company in an emerging market can quickly become a global player, which was not feasible five years ago.
New business models and business transformation
A significant change brought about by the cloud is the ability to provide solutions on a subscription or a pay-as-you-go basis. While the larger global players are the first to capitalize (for example, Microsoft with Office 365), subscription-based models are of greater value to emerging markets, where small and mid-size companies can opt for recurring monthly payments rather than paying large upfront license fees for large monolithic software. Companies can also provide subscription-based models for their customers to enlarge their markets. Happiest Minds created a solution for customers in the market research/publishing business, contributing to a 25% growth in their business by offering flexible architecture, simplified roll-outs, and faster time to market for new offerings, all on a subscription-based model.
A more wide-sweeping change is the transformation being brought about in virtually every industry through the cloud, catalyzing the emergence of fintech, healthtech, and edutech, among others. A Happiest Minds solution, for example, helped a customer, a provider of online courses, to predict student churn and performance. Every industry is undergoing a ‘techification’. For companies in emerging markets, which do not have established institutions, this is an excellent opportunity to challenge the incumbents.
Agility and improved customer experience
The cloud provides agility, a collaborative platform, and improved customer experience. This applies to product design, research, providing frequent software upgrades, and customizing software for different markets. For research, in particular, the cloud offers the scope for collaboration, which is beneficial for emerging countries as they can tap into equipment/data in other countries to invest or to partner on research where emerging market costs of knowledge generation are much lower than in the developed world.
Addressing regulatory and security challenges
While adopting cloud technology, organizations must carefully evaluate and find solutions to issues concerning security and privacy. These challenges can be addressed by using techniques and software tools such as encryption, obfuscation, cloud access security brokers, micro-segmentation and API security. Keeping the data within geographical boundaries/countries can also help meet compliance requirements and reduce complexities associated with cross-border data transfers. Happiest Minds has been actively working to address these challenges and leveraging its security and privacy solutions for new technologies and hybrid clouds.
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