Why the cloud is a game changer for Indian businesses

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cloud Image: rawpixel.com / Busbus.

Ajay Gupta
Partner, Oliver Wyman
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  • Research shows that cloud computing will account for 8% of India’s GDP by 2026.
  • Cloud technology enables businesses to scale up quickly and innovate rapidly.
  • Indian companies have a massive opportunity to harness this innovative technology.

The shared digital infrastructure we call the cloud is no longer just a discussion for tech teams – it is now an urgent matter that the entire C-suite needs to prioritise. Miss this wave and risk becoming redundant.

A 2022 report that Oliver Wyman produced in partnership with NASSCOM highlighted that cloud technology will account for 8% of India’s GDP by 2026. In fact, it has the potential to add $310-380 billion to the country’s GDP by 2026, while also creating 14 million jobs. We simply cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Cloud technology is a business game changer that has rewarded early adopters with an ability to scale quickly and innovate rapidly; and time is of the essence – more traditional businesses need to act now. Today, banks are competing with neobanks; retailers with e-commerce players and so on. To be competitive, you must be able to innovate fast and cannot be constrained by rigid internal capacity – you need the elasticity that the cloud offers.

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The cloud allows you to experiment at a high scale but at reasonable cost to create quick proofs-of-concept. It also empowers you to fail fast and rebuild quickly. India’s born-in-the-cloud companies have shown that working with cloud service providers means you can scale rapidly, without having to build the entire infrastructure yourself.

Crucially, this means you can outsource the headache of predicting long-term capacity requirements while also getting access to competencies that would otherwise have taken a long time – and a lot of capital – to build. When using a cloud service provider you are benefitting from the layered capabilities it has built over time, and at much cost.

Understanding the power of the cloud

Think back to taking pictures on a family holiday just a few decades ago. You had to worry about how many pictures you could take; you had to ensure the physical film never saw the light of day – lest your pictures be ruined. You also had to find someone else to develop your snaps. And then you had to think of where to safely store the photos.

Today, you can take as many as you like, they’re automatically beamed up to the cloud – where their security is someone else’s problem (this is another topic entirely) – and then you also occasionally get a reminder of a memory or something emotive, without prompting.

When it comes to businesses, the cloud frees up manpower and allows you to spend time on what makes your company unique – for example, being the photographer.

But that doesn’t mean companies don’t need internal cloud competencies. Ask your leadership team to understand what is going on in your domain, to join conferences, speak to counterparts and to constantly ask questions like, “what is holding us back?” and “if we were using the cloud more, what could we do faster and better?”.

The cloud can’t become a black box for your organization: you must develop internal knowledge and study what cloud-mature players are doing within India and globally to understand the cloud applications for your industry.

Also, many businesses often expect their cloud journey to be immediately about saving costs, but it’s important to realise that in the short term there are transition costs when migrating. But implement smartly and that investment will pay off in terms of driving innovation, productivity, and scalability.

From the report 'Future of Cloud and its Economic Impact'. Source: Oliver Wyman and Nasscom.
From the report 'Future of Cloud and its Economic Impact' Image: Oliver Wyman and Nasscom.

The cloud is on India’s horizon

Recent research illustrated that, while India only accounts for 1.5% of the global public cloud market today, India’s growth is now outpacing the global average. From 2016 to 2021, the global public cloud market grew at a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26%, while the Indian public cloud market grew at 44% CAGR.

Here are some topline catalysts for growth:

  • Born-in-the-cloud companies have been showing India the way forward – India is third in the global rankings when it comes to unicorns, so this push is significant.
  • The pandemic accelerated digital transformation everywhere, including in India.
  • The government has been helping grow this space through the creation of data centres, bandwidth etc.
  • It’s also about initiatives from the cloud service providers themselves, such as willingness to invest in pilots and experiments that can eventually be scaled up.

Now we must also prioritise educating our future workforces. With increasing cloud adoption, there will be a war for talent, so companies and academic institutions should look at building cloud talent at scale now, because we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation in which the capital and intent are both there, but the skills and competencies aren’t.

With so many benefits – and so many risks from not adopting – it is time for Indian businesses, and the country itself, to ride the cloud wave. So next time your organization is embarking on a new digital journey, or any new project in fact, I implore you to ask yourself this question: are we thinking in terms of the cloud? If not, then you should consider this game changing technology, because in the future this will be a non-negotiable.

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