One definitive trend of the last year has been the acceleration of the need for tech intensity. Speed, agility, and collaboration have never been more important today – whether it is agility at workplace, agility in operations or agility in business models. The pandemic has taught us that no business is 100% resilient; however, those fortified by digital are more agile, more resilient, and more capable of transforming when faced with a crisis.
As we move forward, every organization and every industry will increasingly need to ramp up tech intensity in order to reimagine their businesses. Flexibility and future-proof strategies for seamless communication and work force productivity are a must; and having an always-on cloud-driven data platform will be fundamental. Businesses are also consolidating communications, collaboration, and business process on one platform – built on a foundation of security and privacy. The next decade of economic growth will be determined by today’s investments and the speed of digital transformation powered by cloud.
Hybrid cloud – a forward looking strategy: Cloud is already at the heart of accelerating digital transformation and innovation, and the pandemic accelerated the move to hybrid cloud further. As businesses shift priorities to enable remote work, leverage cloud innovation, and maximize their existing on-premises investments, an effective multi-cloud, multi-edge hybrid approach will be more important than ever. It provides organizations the much-required agility, scalability, and efficiency – while enabling them to stay compliant as they rebuild their businesses. For most large enterprises or highly regulated industries, a hybrid approach makes the most sense, keeping in mind latency, regulations, data sovereignty, or complexity in moving large volumes of legacy data to cloud.
Data & AI: As the situation continues to remain fluid, the ability to predict and minimize risk will make a big difference. And this is where significance of data and analytics will come to the fore. The adoption of data and AI will increasingly be a differentiator in building agility and resilience, even existential for every business. Myntra has been using Azure Data & AI very effectively to analyze consumer preferences since the onset of COVID-19. They are helping brands offer what consumers really want, in addition to helping them moving stocks fast during the lockdown.
Data will be the lighthouse to sense where and how the market is changing and react quickly to survive immediate disruption. However, to accelerate growth and really differentiate for the future, organizations will require data-driven operations with end-to-end visibility By unifying data and predictive insights, organizations can tear down the traditional silos of ERP and CRM, to connect customers, products, people, and operations. Consider the case of L&T-NXT who deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 to ensure uninterrupted business operations during COVID-19 and to better manage leads and increase sales agility. This has enabled their global teams to see all data in one place and easily access information from any location. With agility and cost-effectiveness being crucial, organizations will also look increasingly at low code – no code platforms such as Microsoft Power Platform to unleash innovation through citizen developers.
A new generation of Software as a Service (SaaS): Businesses will increase use of SaaS for shorter turn-around-time for products and services, automation of back-end tasks for effective resource allocation, and stronger customer engagement. However, what will essentially motivate organizations to infuse SaaS into their business models is the ability to mobilize workforces spread across various locations by providing seamless access to apps and data from any Internet-connected device. It will also make businesses more capable by eliminating the need to buy, install, update, and maintain hardware, middleware and software. For instance, in healthcare, SaaS applications will replace traditional software usage by reducing the need to own and host hardware and streamline clinical and non-clinical services.
Agility at the workplace. As Satya said recently, the last 10 months served, perhaps, as the largest at-scale experiment we’ve seen for remote work. The new work culture will be anchored in remote everything and hybrid workplaces will be the way to go. BCG’s Workforce of the Future report anticipates that 45% of the workforce will be part of remote working models this year. It will be important to meet employees where they are and support the workplace with technologies that suit remote offices and frontline workers while keeping them secure. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) will be essential to enabling the hybrid workplace with the right technology. Mahindra & Mahinda has, for instance, deployed Microsoft Teams for over 3,00,000 virtual meetings over a span of 40 days earlier this year and the leadership team, effectively communicated with the organization through 80-plus live events at the onset of the lockdown. It is today is the shared workspace of more than 30,000 employees of M&M, Intas Pharma, on the other hand, was able to rapidly deploy Azure Windows Virtual Desktop(WVD) , which has allowed their critical workforce to access internal content from home using different browsers from home PCs, laptops and personal mobile devices in an absolutely secure manner to support their operations.
An end-to-end cybersecurity approach. Digital transformation is not only about collaboration, productivity, or agility alone. Trust and security have become more important for businesses than ever. Cyber resilience is going to be fundamental to business operations and the pandemic has forced the leaders to prioritize security as a foundation. In a world of remote everything, safeguarding digital assets and putting in place a zero-trust security model is no longer a discretionary approach. From deploying secure technologies, the attention has now shifted to scaling cybersecurity systems, and extending them to supply chain and ecommerce partners. As organizations increasingly adopt remote work-culture, they will expect cloud providers to safeguard the interests of businesses, customers and the partner ecosystem.
Thus, organizations will look at end to end, comprehensive cloud platforms to transform themselves. Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI) is a great example. They have adopted a cloud first approach and leveraged the power of the complete Microsoft Stack – from Azure Apps & Infrastructure to Data & AI, Dynamics 365 business apps to Security tools, while using Teams as their collaboration platform and unified workplace – for increased productivity and efficiency.
Cloud became the bedrock for businesses in 2020, supporting their day-to-day operations, product and service development, and employee and customer communication. It will continue to be a priority for organizations looking to become more robust, scalable, flexible, and secure in 2021. Every organization and every industry will need to be fast adopters of best-in-class cloud-enabled technology, and – equally important – they will need to build their own unique digital capabilities on a strong foundation of trust and sustainability – to be successful and grow.
Rajiv Sodhi, COO, Microsoft India