The speed of change has always been important in business. Indeed, the ability of organisations to adapt to any shifts within their markets has always been vital to success. If a company stops moving, it fails. It is a form of corporate natural selection. With the advent of the cloud, however, the pace of change has increased exponentially.
Businesses face a range of new competitive threats. One needs to only look at how Uber has shaken up the taxi business model for an example of this, but such innovation is also coming from long-established companies, as anyone who has followed Daimler’s
recent move into electric cars would agree. Then again, change is also being driven by the customer. It’s no secret we live in the age of ‘empowered customers’; people today are better-informed than ever, and have very specific demands when it comes to what they expect businesses to deliver. If a company fails to do so, then they will simply go elsewhere to make a purchase or avail a service.
These threats are coming thick and fast and businesses must find ways of responding to them if they are to maintain growth. However, a recent survey from Oracle highlights that many businesses are not as prepared for the ever-accelerating rate of change as they might think. While 64% of employees at global businesses consider their organisation to be agile, most cannot flexibly manage workloads or rapidly
develop, test and launch new applications, leaving such businesses poorly prepared to deal with competitive threats. Indeed, up to 52% of respondents do not have an IT infrastructure capable of meeting competitive threats, such as the ability of competitors to launch innovative customer services more rapidly.
The good news for businesses is that the cloud is already delivering technologies that are capable of meeting these challenges. One of the most important innovations in this respect has been the emergence of cloud platforms, commonly referred to as platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which can help businesses to more rapidly develop and launch new services, business models and applications, giving them the much-needed competitive edge.
Cloud platforms work in a similar way to the now familiar software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and in many respects augments this important cloud service. Whereas SaaS offerings use the cloud to deliver complete business applications to organisations as a service (for example, sales team management applications or accounting software for the finance team), cloud platforms delivers the tools, capabilities and resources businesses need to create their own applications and to tailor existing and third party applications to more exactly meet their unique operational requirements over the cloud.
However, businesses today can already do all this with on-premises systems, so why should they move their development platforms to the cloud? It all comes down to that key question of agility and the need to keep pace with a fast-changing business environment.
Traditionally, developing, testing and launching new applications takes weeks at best, if not months. Just the task of maintaining the database and middleware that support all the application development and deployment environments can become so time-consuming that IT has little opportunity to update or extend existing applications.
This is why cloud platforms are such a powerful proposition. The best cloud platforms on offer allow businesses to integrate seamlessly with their SaaS and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions. This in effect allows them to virtualise application development while still having access to the same standards, tools, and skill sets as they are used to from their on-premises environment. Modern cloud platform offerings also enable businesses to shift workloads between public and private cloud, on-premises, and hybrid deployments, allowing them to easily migrate on-premises apps to the cloud.
It is important to add that not all cloud platforms are created equal.
Before investing in a solution, businesses must take the time to ensure it includes all the right agile features in place and is capable of delivering cloud services for database, big data, integration, mobile and process.
The right cloud platforms is, therefore, an enabler of the modern enterprise, providing the means of rolling out services more quickly to satisfy both the demands of empowered customers and the need to innovate within the business. Cloud platforms enable a state of permanent development and accelerated transformation within the business. They allow organisations to build on their big data insights and unleash creativity at will. In short, it is an evolutionary mechanism through which businesses can rapidly adapt and learn not only to survive in an ever-changing market, but to thrive.
The result? Innovation, business agility and a better customer experience.
The writer is vice-president, Middleware, Oracle India