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Cloud: Our 2021 predictions from our panel of leading experts

New use cases for cloud – Pip White, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Google Cloud

Cloud migration to transform corporate culture
The unprecedented working environment created by COVID-19 has led boards and executives to accelerate digital transformation. Until now, cloud migration has largely been an infrastructure decision, concerned with changing the way business devices and information systems interact with each other. However, it can also transform a company’s culture, and that is now coming to the fore in conversations.

As we enter 2021, cloud migration is increasingly being driven by the need to establish a culture of continuous innovation to keep pace with rapid change, untethering staff from low value, labour-intensive tasks and allowing them to focus on innovation and high-impact projects. Companies will move away from top-down corporate strategies and fully infuse transformation so that every person in an organisation can transform.

Businesses will also need to embrace an ‘anywhere’ operations model, as coined by Gartner, that enables business products and services to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere. New ways of working will emerge, as will new ways to create, collaborate and innovate.

A more ‘open’ cloud
Unsurprisingly, 2021 will see a new and ever evolving workplace, and businesses will need to remain agile, responsive and adaptable to survive. More businesses will opt for an ‘open’ cloud approach to avoid vendor lock-in and foster innovation across environments in the cloud and on-premises. As businesses stabilise post-pandemic, there will be a renewed focus on projects that enhance the employee and customer experience, reduce costs, increase operational efficiencies and boost revenue. To enable an ‘open’ cloud, to build new environments and to modernise old ones, the open-source community will dial-up investment in container and serverless functions, creating a spike in global demand.

Putting cloud to work
The shift to remote work and business operations has given businesses in every sector a unique opportunity to reassess and re-imagine their needs, revealing new and perhaps less obvious digital transformation cases. For example, the insurance industry, which is still dominated by legacy systems and old technology systems, is increasingly recognising the cloud’s potential and turning to AI to build real-time risk models. In retail, the adoption of cloud-based contact centres that use chatbots and rapid response virtual agents will increase, delivering more immediate, personalised customer support in response to complex customer service issues.

Sustainability to top the agenda
Just four or five years ago, corporate sustainability was a nice-to-have, but thanks to the ‘Attenborough effect’ and growing awareness of the impact of global warming, the 2020s have been named ‘the climate decade’ by the GLOBE Forum. Sustainability has become one of the top priorities for businesses and pressure on organisations for positive action is increasing from customers, business partners and shareholders.

In 2021, we’ll see more companies make carbon neutral pledges. Those that have already done so will put their words into action and new strategic partnerships will take shape as cloud providers work with end-user companies to do more for the planet. Google Cloud, which has committed to running its business on carbon-free energy everywhere by 2030, recently collaborated with Stella McCartney and the WWF, making use of data analytics and machine learning to give fashion brands detailed insight into the impact of their supply chains.

AI and ML central to every business strategy
Those organisations that emerge successfully from COVID-19 will be the ones that not only put an emphasis on a great user experience, but also predict changing user habits and course-correct fast. Technologies like AI and ML are crucial for extracting meaningful insights from data sets. The banking industry, for example, has dialled up AI investment to enhance personalisation, deliver financial well-being insights and better manage risk. Even industries that are not already using AI or ML will start to experiment with technology to create tailored experiences.
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Adrian Rowley

Improving cloud visibility

Adrian Rowley, Senior Director Sales Engineering – EMEA, Gigamon

2020 saw a significant shift to the cloud for distributed teams, and we expect cloud adoption to continue to grow next year. Cloud providers will have to ensure companies’ data is secure and contained in a determined location. Visibility will play a key role and will allow cloud providers to drive protection and contain the data, tailoring the correct architectures for each customer. Data sovereignty will remain a barrier to cloud adoption, and providers that manage to address this will find success in 2021.
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Nick Offin

INTERNET OF THINGS

AR proves its value in new world of work

Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations, dynabook Northern Europe

The unprecedented working environment created by the pandemic has propelled technologies like assisted reality (AR) beyond the proof-of-concept stage, revealing new use cases and demonstrating the potential of wearables for improving collaboration with remote teams. Over the next 12 months, wearables will provide resellers with a unique opportunity to build their own ecosystem with custom products like AR smart glasses optimised for specific industries. As more businesses start to adopt wearable technology, they will be looking for support with their deployments, training and lifecycle management. This provides an opportunity for resellers to develop a whole end-to-end package.

Article continued tomorrow…..

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