Cloud, Data, and Innovation: Unlocking Business Potential

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Cloud, Data, and Innovation: Unlocking Business Potential

The past two years have shone a spotlight on the importance of technology in our lives. In a world that largely operated remotely, both public and private sector companies in India have depended on the cloud to drive business continuity, agility, and scalability across the organization. A recent IDC survey suggests that over 60% of Indian companies aim to use cloud platforms for digital innovation in the wake of the pandemic. Another report by IDC spoke about how the Indian public cloud services market reached $3.6 billion in 2020.

The Indian Public Cloud is expected to reach $9.5 billion by 2025. That’s an incredible CAGR of 21.5%.

The benefits of cloud are well-established. Without requiring heavy upfront investments, it allows businesses to scale on-the-go by giving them easy access to necessary expertise and processing capacity. Businesses are increasingly realizing the value in making the switch to cloud owing to its reduced costs, increased efficiencies, and greater innovation. In fact, in Cloudera’s recent enterprise data maturity report, 94% of the surveyed IT decision makers (ITDMs) in India reported that managing data with at least some cloud capacity is a priority for their organization. A similar majority (98%) believe that organizations implementing a hybrid architecture as part of its data strategy will gain a competitive advantage.

The world is evolving at an unparalleled pace and organizations need to be agile to adapt to evolving trends.  A cloud-first approach is critical to leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Internet of Things (IoT). Even the Government of India has embarked on an ambitious cloud initiative called ‘MeghRaj’ which is aimed at hosting various government applications and services on the cloud.

However, a prevalent issue is that many organizations take “cloud-first” out of context and blindly jump on the cloud bandwagon. Moving to the cloud is not a panacea for innovation and creativity. It is imperative that businesses understand the entire digital transformation journey before moving to the cloud, else they would face a critical problem. While they’ve made the move to the cloud, their data continues to be dispersed among several clouds and possibly even different solution providers. In some cases, businesses have their data split between the cloud and on-premise infrastructures, which makes it even more challenging to access their data.

Data, the new language of innovation

The reality is that data fuels a business’s digital transformation. After all, it is what technologies like AI, ML, IoT, and edge computing are meant to do – measure, evaluate, and analyze huge amounts of data inputs quickly to drive greater value out of data. When managed efficiently, data can drive innovation by delivering a plethora of insights that help businesses better understand their consumers and adapt quickly to changing market conditions.

In today’s digital world, it’s crucial for businesses to be data-driven. It helps companies anticipate and react to change, and gives them a leg-up among competitors. This means two things – firstly, businesses must consider implementing an enterprise data strategy that is holistic and  fully integrated into the organization’s business strategy; and secondly, for an organization to become truly “data-driven”, every employee, including those from non-IT functions, needs access to high quality data that is relevant and made available to them in a timely manner. This would enable employees with the right kind of knowledge they need, to be able to generate actionable insights, and help them innovate and propose creative solutions with more confidence.

Take for instance Axis Bank, one of India’s leading private sector bank with over 20 million customers and over 4,000 branches across India. The bank earlier found it difficult to derive value from their unstructured data and deliver real-time insights across major business units. By making use of an enterprise data strategy, Axis Bank was better equipped to analyze operations and predict customer behaviors across their retail and commercial business units. They were able to analyze 40-50 percent more data and have a deeper understanding of their business requirements.

Innovation needs to be pervasive, and so does data

Innovation must be decentralised. A decentralised innovation structure leads to better results and paves the way for greater benefits from a company’s data and analytics efforts. Data can help drive innovation efforts by combining existing technologies in new ways, or “upcycling” existing technologies by applying them to a different domain to address a different challenge.

This is why it is important to ensure that every employee, not just the data scientists, is data literate and has access to the relevant data. Across sectors, people from decentralised teams who are “on the ground” have a deeper understanding of the context of the obtained data than the IT teams and are better equipped to come out with domain-specific actionable insights based on their expertise. Hence, merging their domain experience and knowledge with data analytics skills will have distinct benefits. More collaborations could merge as a result of increased data availability, allowing for the discovery of previously undetected data interactions.

Legacy data systems, on the other hand, frequently stand in the way of new and demanding needs, such as the instantaneous delivery of the correct data to the right people at the right time. To progress on their digital transformation path, businesses must be able to break down data silos and derive finer insights from their business processes.

Here’s where an enterprise data cloud comes into play. Organizations can use this to support their enterprise data strategy and take full advantage of the decentralized innovation framework. An enterprise data cloud enables businesses to capture actual value from their data by utilizing analytics at every stage of the data lifecycle. It also allows users to regulate who has access to data in a secure way, ensuring data integrity, and to have complete visibility into what’s going on with the data inside the business context.

Let’s take a look at Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). Business teams across RIL used to process and analyze information in silos, using disparate applications. The company lacked a single, common view of the data and there was no enterprise-wide data modeling in place. Realizing the need for an organization-wide data strategy and repository, RIL created a centralized data lake to bring together and integrate data across various oil to chemical businesses. This led to a 30 percent savings in overall costs, a significant improvement in their business performance and lowered operations risk through increased process transparency and timely decision-making.

Unlocking your business’s potential with data

Data is the most important asset of any digital firm and has the potential to open up new avenues and possibilities for organizations. Hence, it needs to be properly handled and utilized. Digital transformation driven by a good cloud and enterprise data strategy is what enables organizations to make sense of their data to yield actionable insights that can help them scale and penetrate new markets at speed. However, failure to do so could make the chances of project success decline dramatically while potentially driving costs higher.

Through the use of data visualization, an enterprise data cloud can help organizations aggregate all of their data across platforms and workloads, manage the whole data lifecycle journey, and allow users to translate raw data into more meaningful information for the business. On the back of this, organizations across the country will be better equipped to tackle any data related challenges associated with the digital economy and accelerate the pace of digital transformation across the business.

[author title=”Piyush Agarwal, SE Leader, India, Cloudera ” image=”http://”]Piyush Agarwal is a seasoned BI & Big Data Analytics Presales leader and Solution Architect with 16+ years of experience empowering enterprise customers across industry verticals, such as BFSI, Telecom, Manufacturing, and Large Conglomerates, to gain insights from data using BI & Big Data Analytics solutions and platform. [/author]

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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