Indian culture seems suited for cloud computing and its benefits.

Technology adoption is not an absolute. It takes on a different shape, size and scope in different geographical and industrial segments. There are a few things that differentiate Indian adoption of technology from the rest of the world and the most prominent of all characteristics is “Best Affordable Innovation”. In a country where diversity is ingrained in all aspects of economy, this is one characteristic that stands out. Cloud computing is one of such technologies that fit into the pulse of the Indian culture.

In India, cricket is more popular than golf, the consumption of tea is higher than that of wine, the number of 2-wheelers surpasses the number of 4-wheelers on most roads and the list can go on. The bottom-line here is that value for money is a key driver in this country. However, value for money is not equal to cheap. With globalization and exposure, gone are the days when Indians would accept low-cost, poor quality innovations. Today, the need of the hour is a complete package of innovation and affordability. Now, let us now consider this scenario from a technology perspective. Cloud computing technology enables companies to convert capital expenditure related into operational expenditure thereby deriving absolute value for money. Through cloud environment, companies can focus on their business and avoid the added cost and complexity of an IT infrastructure and staff without compromising on business deliverables.

Enabling growth ambitions

Indian economy is increasingly going global and witnessing a healthy co-existence of large as well as small and medium-sized enterprises striving for growth. While on one hand the financial muscle of the large organisations deepens their penetration in the demand pyramid, on the other, it’s the innovation muscle that helps nimble, agile and aggressive SMB companies to cater to the upper-end of the demand pyramid. This flux in the market has created a strong competition and has resulted in the need for solutions that are quick to deploy, low on TCO and high on ROI. Cloud computing is an excellent example of technology that fits this requirement. Small businesses and midsize companies need to ensure growth while conducting business in a smart, lean, and cost-effective way. This means streamlining customer-facing business processes while scaling them across organisational and international boundaries. Cloud technology helps small businesses and midsize companies by providing the functional depth of a large-scale business management solution. Indians typically are not privy to compliance and regulatory issues. However, with the growing economy and companies growing organically and inorganically, the need to comply with regulations and ensure hygiene is becoming a top priority of CEOs and CFOs. And the speed of growth is such that CIOs need a system to work immediately and something that can grow in pace with the company’s new ventures. Many companies are adopting cloud solution as a subsidiary enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The powerful solution meets functional and industry requirements, provides deep integration with ERP used at headquarters and is easily deployable, simpler to manage and easier to change. Yet it also satisfies corporate requirements, which typically include regulatory transparency, operational metrics visibility, use of centralized business functions, and key data rollup.

Fostering collaboration

We Indians are indeed social animals, with society, friends and family embroiled in every aspect of our lives. This has become even simpler with evolution of social media. This gives us the ability to yell digitally and connect with our society in the virtual world. People have conquered the fear of internet transparency. We have evolved from the era of physical meetings to the age of phones and faxes, followed by the e-mail and then application workflows. Now it has reached a stage where all-pervasive communication and collaboration is a need of the hour. Today, instead of us using software to send an e-mail, the software itself sends an e-mail. E-mail 2.0 is a virtual whiteboard, like an industrial version of Facebook. This new paradigm has prompted the development of business-collaborative tools in the cloud. They support collaborative decision-making by bringing together the people, information and proven business methods to drive fast, meaningful results. Decision-making in India is primarily based on information exchange or word-of-mouth communication. We have a tendency to address our problems through discussions and collaboration with society and our acquaintances. The cloud platform suitably fits into this milieu by enabling information exchange to be imbibed in the business environment in a simpler, more affordable way. This application connects customers and suppliers for business-to-business e-commerce. It helps establish a connection with a business partner once for each process and instantly exchange related electronic documents, such as purchase orders, forecasts, invoices, and delivery notes, using your existing applications.

Harnessing the power of a diverse demographic

India has been one of the largest outsourcing hubs since 1998. As creators of the outsourcing breed, we have steadily become consumers of the same model too. Outsourcing processes, applications, infrastructure, is routine. What’s new is outsourcing process innovation to the crowd. With the average age of Indian companies coming down, crowd sourcing and personalization is a key success factor. Can someone I don’t know build a plug-in for my sales lead rating that is built to connect with my cloud CRM? Is there a template for the chemical industry that can be downloaded for my cloud ERP? Cloud solutions are modified to enable processes outsourcing by driving sustainable cost savings, comprehensive contract management, provide superior supplier management, and help ensure rapid time to value. Sales professionals in India, who are perpetually on the go, covering huge Indian topography and beating the traffic and congestion, can now collaborate on business opportunities through cloud based CRM. This cloud application helps them with real-time information updates, and a new user experience. Add a mobile phone to these capabilities and you have a truly mobile workforce. When you have an increasingly mobile workforce, managing business travel is another dimension you need to take care of. And the cloud delivers on that as well, with applications that can manage business travel, from planning to expense reimbursements. You can manage your travel and expenses effortlessly, so you can concentrate on your business goals. It is small – simple – easy but has a high ROI for companies with fat travel bills.

Nurturing a green economy

With growth and industrialization, India is increasingly becoming susceptible to environmental impacts. Our carbon emission is expected to rise to an alarming 3.5 tonnes by 2030 (source: Economic Survey 2009 - 2010). It is the responsibility of corporate India to safeguard the future of its next generations. Governments have slowly and steadily started laying rules for environmental compliance. It is critical for a global organization to accurately measure, mitigate, and monitor greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts, such as solid waste and water. In the cloud, there are applications that can cost-effectively assess your total carbon emissions inventory across all scopes, provide transparency into your sustainability initiatives, establish a comprehensive inventory of carbon emissions and achieve cost savings by identifying opportunities for energy, waste, and emissions reductions within and outside operational boundaries. Becoming a green enterprise is the only sustainable direction for a company if it wants to succeed. And collectively, that is the way forward for India, Inc.

India is, therefore, uniquely suited to really take advantage of cloud computing to achieve its goals for the future. While China has always played the volume game, it left Europe and America to play the value game. I firmly believe that with the power of the cloud, India can get really good value for volume and we will see an exponential growth in the creation and consumption of cloud applications.

(The author is Head – Cloud Business, SAP India Pvt Ltd)

(This article was published on June 24, 2012)
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