Every industry in recent years has been undergoing a rapid digital transformation coupled with cloud innovation to meet the growing demand. However, the pandemic—which has made the economy tighter and altered our working style—has catalysed this whole journey. Cloud has always been viewed as an innovation vehicle to deliver the full potential of a business and advance business objectives. In the current situation, companies are expanding their use of cloud technology and optimising it for transformation in the digital economy.

Business leaders today must ensure resilience, efficiency, and flexibility while supporting strategic transformation; and this is not limited just to the IT industry. A recent IDC report states that as a result of the pandemic, 64% of the organisations in India are expected to increase demand for cloud computing. People today are depending on cloud-based solutions that deliver connectivity, efficiency, affordability, and excellent user experience on any device, at any time. The need to work remotely has created an increased demand for collaboration across teams, companies and industries as well. It is also providing an opportunity for the cloud marketplace to strengthen and expand its reach.

While it’s not a new term, Industry Cloud is gaining more momentum now. The healthcare sector, for example, had made some strides in cloud adoption, but recently there has been an increased uptick. Other industries which are progressively moving to the cloud are online education, retail, supply chain and logistics, telemedicine, life sciences, oil and gas, manufacturing, and the e-commerce sector. In a 2019 TechRepublic Premium survey, 64% of respondents said they either already use Industry Cloud services or plan to adopt it in the next 12 months. Industry Cloud enables innovation within and across the sector to allow the customers to thrive in a transforming world. Vertical solutions can yield results for the core business and help expedite business operations while balancing cost efficiencies. It provides a unique solution of enhancing and extending business capabilities while preserving process integrity and compliance.

Customising solutions

Every sector has its own business, operatory, legal, regulatory, as well as security and other considerations. Industry Cloud creates customised cloud systems to fit a specific industry to accommodate the business. The main aim is to enable vertical integration and vertical solutions rather than horizontal ones, which is usually the focus of general cloud computing. Industry Cloud solutions concentrate on generating more worth within the limits of the industry in which it is used rather than going out to another industry. Companies can also look at borrowing best practices from other sectors by plugging in existing Industry Cloud solutions which then would enable continuous innovation while protecting the security and integrity of business processes.

Driving innovation

The emergence of Industry Cloud has enabled multiple companies in an industry to collaborate on cloud-based platforms and innovate at the vertical edge. Each company might not have every expertise, but they can indeed leverage each other’s strengths. Companies within the same industry can look at improving efficiency by providing access to successful use-cases and create collaborative solutions. Businesses are reinventing themselves inspired by digital innovation and uniting with customers and partners by creating new custom solutions using machine learning, analytics, and business networks. These partner-led solutions give rise to industry-specific innovation and the ability of any industry to run as an intelligent enterprise.

Reframing business models

Industry Cloud, as a concept, has evolved into an innovation space to develop new solutions and enabling integration. Customers today want to be inspired and educated by brands that share their morals and deliver personalised experiences. They want personalisation with a purpose. Hence, consumer product companies need to embrace next-gen business processes and intelligent technologies, such as augmented reality/virtual reality, Edge computing, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to lead in this new era of Industry 4.0, allowing market leaders to re-imagine new business models such as pursuing innovative partnerships or monetising data.

There are options to deliver higher value in a more differentiated way by partnering more effectively across the ecosystem. Consumer companies can optimise and deepen the level of collaboration with existing strategic partners to pursue additional sources of value as well as aggressively pursue new partners to differentiate further and enable new levels of agility—thus, removing the age-old model of “one product fits all” and creating opportunities to deliver personalised experiences. Similarly, across industries, companies will move away from traditional business models and view their ecosystem as a productive, set of relationships—one capable of delivering new types and sources of value to consume.

While what the future holds is unclear, the cloud has been a saviour during the crisis caused by the pandemic. It is no longer where parts of the business would move to the cloud, one at a time. That has changed to business across industries, driving 100% to the cloud. It has enabled seamless business operations, which, in turn, has increased the confidence in embracing the cloud in every sector. Now, it’s time for companies to be an intelligent enterprise with the power of end-to-end Industry Cloud solutions.

Views are personal. The author is senior vice president and managing director, SAP Labs India.

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