What is the significance of cloud based computing in New Zealand?
Cloud has become such a hot topic and it’s now being spiced up even more with the increasing entry and relevance of Artificial Intelligence or AI. The cloud is now even more essential as every organisation wrestles with the challenge of disruption.
However, while cloud computing is still a relatively infant concept, it’s evolving way quicker than a lot of people realise. Some organisations in New Zealand have embraced cloud fully however, growing numbers are now choosing to have a foot, or toe, in the cloud camp while maintaining a strong link to legacy.
How is this affecting IT management?
What we’re seeing is a wholesale move away from relying on one monolithic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, towards one that’s either legacy or in the cloud, while being supported by micro systems and services.
This mix and match approach is made possible through multiple APIs. It is a very palatable proposition for most organisations because it enables them to evolve step-by-step, without the need to throw the ERP baby out with the bathwater and start again.
Is it possible to put a value on moving IT infrastructure to the cloud?
It’s well known most of clouds value comes from the potential to lower computing costs and increase business flexibility by being able to upscale and downscale data quickly and efficiently.
As well as this, there’s no need for up-front capital expenditure, it delivers better collaboration and document management, and it provides the ability to work wherever and whenever. It also supports competitiveness and is kind to the planet.
The actual value of cloud in monetary terms is difficult to estimate as it depends on the business but along with dollars, it also makes management of technology simpler and the ability to change and evolve easier. On the other side, there’s the need to change the way people operate and this can also create disruption and cost, however, we believe the results are worth it.
Are there barriers to moving to the cloud?
I’ve just mentioned one of the major ones and that’s people simply don’t like change and sometimes just prefer to carry on because that’s the way it’s always been done. This is very common, and understandable. But there are other very valid reasons why organisations are reticent such as existing financial commitment and investment in legacy platforms.
Some others include fear of losing control, concerns about security, performance and being tied to one provider – all of these come under the umbrella of apprehension about change. Once the pros and cons about cloud are weighed up, the advantages usually outweigh the downsides by a long way.
What will drive more transition to the cloud in the future?
Whatever side of the cloud fence you’re on, or if you are sitting on the top, the advent of AI brings a different perspective to this discussion and may tip the balance in favour of cloud. And this is because of data volumes and the need for flexibility and scale.
The potential for AI is enormous and we don’t fully understand its full extent or potential impact. It’s already providing virtual assistance to connect customers with company information, mining for and adding value to data, and making existing technology better by learning and adapting. It also presents a very real way to develop capability and efficiency by managing many mundane and time consuming tasks. AI will free employees to focus on more productive activities, and this leads to a better working environment, culture and ultimately customer service.
AI’s fast food is vast quantities of data – it is a hungry beast and will have a growing appetite as more and more AI functionality arrives. It’s a virtuous circle – more data will mean the need for more AI and so on.
Will legacy cope in an AI world?
The issue with legacy is it can be confining and inflexible.
Cloud computing is an ideal fit for an AI world because of its ability to bring information together, deliver intelligence, be flexible and adaptable. Possibly mixing and matching cloud with legacy in a hybrid ERP system is the best solution for many organisations who want the benefits of both approaches.
When it comes to technology change, New Zealand usually follows other countries – what are you hearing about around the world that New Zealand could learn from?
There are a lot of leading lights in the IT world seeing AI together with cloud as the next major step. I’ve read many opinions, such as from Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive of Google who said: “we will evolve in computing from a mobile-first to an AI-first world” and his view means the need for as much potential to scale as possible.
The Financial Times has said that once data is moved to the cloud, companies will have much more access to varied data feeds and intelligent services, and joining this with their own operations will be possible thanks to “AI in the cloud”. Another endorsement about the importance of AI, came from Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, when he said “it’s clear to me AI is going to be the foundation for the next layer of programming.”
Even Steve Jobs called it the “one more thing” — the unexpected bonus that would outshine all other benefits of moving to the cloud.
There’s huge support for cloud and when it is combined with AI, it becomes a powerful mechanism.
So your view is cloud is best?
The message here is if companies are to take advantage of the next big change they should lean further towards the cloud because if they don’t opportunities could be missed.
With the weight of commentary about AI it’s hard to ignore the potential of it when it’s driven by the cloud, whether it’s connected to a legacy ERP system or not. Put simply, if companies are still only on legacy systems as this AI juggernaut comes down the road, there’s a strong possibility they won’t have the ability to adapt fast enough and they could become just that, a legacy.
What do you think the timeframe is?
As Stephen Hawking suggests, the AI genie is out of the bottle and there’s no going back, meaning business leaders will have to think about it more and manage it to deliver benefits. Companies who embrace AI will be able to grow faster, more efficiently and produce better results – two heads are better than one, especially if one of them is artificial and driven by computer science.
No-one knows the next technology change over the horizon, so keeping an open mind and being flexible and adaptable will be essential. AI in the cloud simply provides more scope to adapt – it is the perfect secret sauce for cloud.
What else needs to happen to help cloud become even more important?
While, the case for cloud is strong and well understood, it hasn’t been strong enough to encourage more organisations to move further towards it. However, the pressure to use it more in the future may be about to increase with the growing importance of AI.
Igor Matich, is the founder and Managing Director of Dynamo6, a digital technology company formed around a team of top technical professionals with distinguished expertise and skills in cloud computing, systems integration, software development and digital design.
Established in 2012 and based in Hamilton and Auckland, New Zealand, the team at Dynamo6 is focused on providing a range of products and services for the emerging third platform in computing; cloud, mobile, social business and data analytics.