Using Cloud To Empower SMB Innovation

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 23, 2018

Sheela

Even though SMBs are widely regarded as the growth engine of the Indian economy, they continue to struggle with suboptimal IT infrastructure for lack of choice and quality. However, many SMBs are now considering a cloud-first approach and are increasingly looking at Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as their next growth catalyst.

According to a recent Gartner report, the public cloud services revenue is projected to grow 37.5 percent in 2018 to total $2.5 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2017, with a chunk of the growth coming from the IaaS segment, alongside SaaS and PaaS.

In a recent interaction with CXOToday, Sheela Nambiar, Sr. Director, Oracle Digital, explains the cloud adoption scenario among the Indian SMBs, the challenges faced by this burgeoning segment and how the cloud major’s new portfolio of autonomous cloud services is helping SMB customers innovate and grow.

CXOToday: What’s the uptake of cloud among Indian SMBs?

Sheela Nambiar: Based on my conversations with SMB customers, one thing is evident. They understand that cloud is a business imperative. Indian SMBs are slightly more cloud-savvy than some of their APAC peers. In the digital economy, companies across industries are transforming into cloud-first businesses at an unprecedented pace. With access to the same modern, enterprise-grade technology as a large enterprise, more and more SMBs are now embracing cloud without inhibitions. Driving the move is the desire to harness cloud to help boost performance and innovation levels. Broadly speaking, SMBs that have adopted a digital-first strategy are growing faster than those that haven’t.

CXOToday: Can you highlight some of the challenges faced by SMBs when considering a move to cloud?

Sheela Nambiar: Most SMBs typically start with a piecemeal cloud strategy, focusing on present needs as opposed to taking a long-term view. As a result, at some point in their cloud journey, they end up with issues around compatibility, integration, security etc. In my view, an ideal cloud journey begins with a clear roadmap by defining clear outcomes and timelines, and by working with a cloud-neutral technology partner to avoid lock-in.

Finding and retaining cloud-savvy, IT staff continues to be considered one of the key barriers to cloud adoption. In our recent Your Platform research, Indian respondents cited lack of skills as one of the top three challenges during cloud migration. However, the reality is that the bigger risk is not moving to the cloud, which is rapidly proving itself as easier to manage, maintain and secure than traditional IT environments. In particular, cloud services are vastly more secure than many on premises alternatives, due to the fact that more time and money is spent on them by major cloud providers, and they’re continually kept patched and up-to-date as a result.

In short, what I see from talking to SMB customers across industries is that where skills gaps issues exist, they relate less to having specific cloud skills, centring more on mind-set.

CXOToday: What’s Oracle’s strategy to simplify cloud adoption for SMBs?

We’re making it very simple, easy and quick for businesses to move to the cloud. Our Digital Hub in Bengaluru, the first such Oracle Digital Hub in APAC region, was the first step in this direction. With this hub, we’re empowering SMBs with world-class cloud solutions faster and easier with an accelerated buying experience

With Oracle Universal Credits (UC) and Oracle Bring Your Own Licence (BYOL) initiatives, we’ve made it simple and more affordable for customers to move to cloud, while providing flexibility and choice in how they use cloud. Customers can now enjoy universal access to all current and future Oracle Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings – and choose how, where and when to consume cloud services.

CXOToday: How can SMBs ensure a successful cloud journey?

A ‘one size fits all’ approach to cloud won’t work for this segment. Depending on what stage of digital transformation the SMB is in, it’s important to clearly define the objectives and outcomes for a successful cloud journey. For the sake of simplicity, here’s a simple, four step approach that I often recommend to my customers for a seamless move to the cloud.

a)    A sharp focus on business outcomes and governance

b)    Settling on an approach, and seeing it through by resourcing and organizing accordingly

c)     Avoiding the transformation fatigue

d)    Championing internal advocates as change drivers

CXOToday: Can you share some recent cloud customer successes?

Sheela Nambiar: AyusCare, a healthcare informatics company, was able to scale faster and deliver consistent performance to its end customers (hospitals/diagnostic centers) with our cloud infrastructure. Adidas India’s in-store point-of-sale systems run on our super scale cloud infrastructure, enabling a faster, better in-store shopping experience for customers. Amego, India’s first logistical assistance company for medical emergencies on the go, used our mobile cloud service to enable more than 50,000 people, with one click access, to automatically log medical emergency requests and get approvals on the go. Then, iTriangle is a company engaged in design, development and manufacturing of innovative and next generation products/applications in Telematics. iTriangle leveraged Oracle’s cloud infrastructure and MySQL cloud solutions to build a stable, scalable, highly available, easy to manage platform – enabling the company to make a significant difference to their customers and their business. Several other customers like Soniks Consulting, SAMI Direct, CAMS, D&B (Dun & Bradstreet), Impartus Innovation, Shubham Finance, are those who have recently moved to Oracle cloud and are experiencing significant business benefits.

CXOToday: What are your growth plans for the next one year?

Sheela Nambiar: Since the inception of the Digital Hub, we’ve significantly expanded our footprints in the SMB segment across the country. A key success factor we constantly monitor is the number of new cloud customers acquired and their retention rate in the SMB white space. This focus on volume is extremely critical to our business as acquiring and retaining cloud customers yields a healthy ramp up for our cloud business. We’ll continue to build on this momentum this year as well as we focus on building and maintaining strong customer relationships.

Building a healthy ecosystem of business Partners including ISVs, Cloud Implementation Partners, SIs and resellers, is an integral part of our volume business strategy. We have invested in a dedicated channel team for recruiting, training and supporting strategic partners across tier 1 and tier 2 cities in India.

On the technology front, in addition to empowering SMBs with our modern, enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure, we’ll continue to help customers make sense of emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Blockchain, Chatbots, IoT etc. in transforming their businesses and making them future ready.

CXOToday: Tell us more about your new portfolio of autonomous cloud services. How are your SMB customers reacting to this?

Sheela Nambiar: As you know, cloud has democratized enterprise-grade technology for SMBs, and is a great equalizer in that sense. What we’ve done with our autonomous cloud services is to take this to a whole new level. Oracle Cloud Platform’s built-in autonomous capabilities transform the way cloud services are delivered and consumed. Built with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and ground-breaking machine-learning (ML) algorithms, Oracle Cloud Platform autonomous services offer self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing capabilities, enabling organizations to lower cost, reduce risk, accelerate innovation, and get predictive insights.

There’s a lot of interest from SMBs for our suite of autonomous cloud services. A lot of our SMB customers are in the midst of a pilot program for the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse solution and have already started to derive a lot of benefits. Apart from ease of use and speed of creating a data warehouse, they are able to run operations from even remote locations where technical skills are scarce.Our autonomous cloud solutions offer SMBs a great advantage,enabling them to innovate faster, understand customers better and enhance operational efficiencies.