Looking Ahead 2021: Cloud’s reign to continue


This new normal will put new pressures on companies, as there will be increasing need for networks capable of supporting hybrid architectures – be it cloud, on premises, or edge computing.

By Srinivasan CR
Even before the events of 2020, cloud had already established its value for many businesses by providing improved agility, scalability, and cost efficiencies across industries. In 2020, the technology helped add a layer of resilience to many organisations by making the sudden shifts in working habits less disruptive. This has sealed cloud’s place as an essential piece of enterprise tech. In the next five years, the cloud computing industry is expected to grow from $371.4 billion in 2020 to $832.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 17.5%. In 2021 specifically, businesses will focus more on managing their cloud costs better and look to unify their different cloud environments. Cloud providers will need to focus on enhancing and integrating security, compliance, and privacy into their offerings. Cloud will also grow in popularity as the ideal execution venue for technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), blockchain, and edge computing.

Intelligent networks new normal
The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to innovate reactively and creatively in order to make work pattern shifts that they thought would take years, happen in mere weeks. According to one study in the US, 75% of those surveyed said they would like to continue to work from home in at least a partial capacity, while 40% of respondents said they feel strongly that their employer should give employees the choice to opt-in to remote work. This new normal will put new pressures on companies, as there will be increasing need for networks capable of supporting hybrid architectures – be it cloud, on premises, or edge computing.

As a result, more organisations will start seeking intelligent and intent-based networks that offer integrated security – such as SD-WAN for the WAN with SASE and Zero Trust security or virtual networks for multicloud—to deal with the increased cybersecurity threat of their new perimeter-less ecosystem. Similarly, the need to improve customer experience (CX) will accompany the increased digitsation of businesses.

IoT to play greater role in securing and analysing data
With more 5G rollouts expected in 2021, along with further growth in LP-WAN-based services, the amount of data created and handled by businesses is set to skyrocket. So, to differentiate themselves, more companies will focus on data analytics technology capable of securely handling information as well as deriving greater insights from their mostly unused operational data.

I expect IoT to play a pivotal role—helping to automate processes and make more information readily available to enterprises. And as IoT becomes increasingly intertwined with AI, and more deeply embedded in organisational structures and transformation programmes, devices will become increasingly ‘smart’ and capable of driving greater intelligence.

Automation: a business imperative
The pandemic is significantly increasing investments in automated solutions this year, such as AI, ML, and robotic process automation (RPA). More businesses will become platform-driven digital business and use of these technologies will continue to rise. This will help them automate routine, repetitive, predictable tasks and unlock tactical benefits. These innovations will strengthen operational efficiency, increase accuracy of platforms, and improve user experiences across ecosystems. This will also drive cost efficiencies and realignments. In an increasingly uncertain future, businesses will continue to gravitate towards solutions that make them more resilient and agile.

The writer is chief digital officer at Tata Communications

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