By Rajeev Khade and Sheela Nambiar
What’s the one thing that sets Indian SMBs apart? We think it’s their resilience in challenging times. As SMBs focus on business continuity and long-term growth, they will look to technology to help drive more business efficiencies and frugal innovation to return to the growth path. Smarter ways of working have become the norm. Now being faced with additional challenges, there is perhaps still a silver lining for SMBs from this effort. Those that have turned to digital business models find that they are now better equipped to adapt their business strategy to cope with changes.
However, many still lack the resources or capabilities to realise their vision. In fact, according to a study on SMBs in Asia Pacific, the majority of companies this size are still in the early stages of digital maturity, and setting up the latest technology on their own may not be the most realistic approach.
Cloud cover for your business
A solution to this conundrum is in the cloud. By migrating to the cloud, SMBs can gain access to sophisticated software and infrastructure services on a subscription basis, instantly expanding their capabilities without having to invest in expensive, high-maintenance technology themselves. The cloud is effectively levelling the playing field, giving smaller, agile companies the potential to gain an edge over their larger competitors and free themselves up from many time-consuming and labour-intensive manual processes that are prone to inaccuracy. As such, SMEs can focus on improving their services and profitability instead.
A new generation of cloud technologies bring with them new promises. Cloud applications are starting to have artificial intelligence (AI) embedded into them, alongside existing functionality that is also known and trusted. Cloud infrastructure is also leveraging deeper levels of AI and automation to become, in some areas, self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing – in fact autonomous. This delivers better performance, scalability, reliability, speed and built-in security to mitigate threats and the ability to support unprecedented data management capabilities.
Getting your cloud journey right
Indeed, some of the more agile SMBs in India have already been quick to harness the power of cloud technologies. However, with change being the new constant for SMBs, and perhaps additional challenges such as lack of access to funding and issues around cost flow, while cloud might seem to offer the answer, there can remain the question about how to get there.
Below is a four-step approach to help SMBs succeed in their cloud journey.
Marathon attitude: Begin with a due diligence on which applications or databases may benefit most
from either migrating to cloud or, being replaced or supplemented by cloud versions; which hardware infrastructure can be moved to the cloud. Sometimes a big start isn’t necessarily the best start, moving all your IT solutions to cloud. Instead, start comfortably tier by tier, solution by solution. Be ready to embrace value-added services, for example, moving your application to cloud can provide the opportunity to add cloud-based analytics, or add new digital capabilities to HR, Finance, or Sales and Marketing practices.
Draw more value: Before jumping into a paid arrangement, any cloud transformation can be kick started ‘for free’ with trials from leading IT providers, such as Oracle, from which internal IT and users can gain experience and confidence with cloud practices. Leverage these free trials. Top-up based spending: When starting commercial cloud consumption, be aware of the pricing models. With a Pay-as-You-Go model, you can start without any commercial commitment and consider moving to a Monthly Flex discount-on commitment-based model when you have a better forecast of your cloud services requirement.
Partner with care: Migrating enterprise workloads and associated data to the cloud can be challenging and SMBs should not underestimate implementation. Companies should consider working with a trusted and reliable implementation partner. In the long run, it is eventually more cost-effective than attempting DIY systems. Working with cloud implementation partners who have the right expertise and infrastructure at hand often helps SMBs not only implement cloud solutions, but to also design and execute their digital strategies with ease and efficiency, saving more over time.
Build an innovation runway
Cloud-led innovation is a journey. By partnering with the right cloud provider, Indian SMBs can leave the infrastructure management to the cloud provider and instead focus more on keeping their business up and running, and investing time and efforts towards core business priorities. With a second generation, enterprise-grade, secure cloud, SMBs are better placed to build an innovation runway that’ll help strengthen business resilience and steer their organizations back onto the growth path in the new decade.
Rajeev Khade is VP & Global Head of IT, Sigma Electric Manufacturing Corp. Pvt. Ltd. and Sheela Nambiar is Sr. Director, Oracle Digital. Views expressed are the authors’ own.