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Paving the way to business agility in Africa

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This year’s Rugby World Cup saw the Springboks scrum, tackle and ruck their way towards lifting the coveted Webb Ellis Cup. However, South Africa would never have emerged victorious if they weren’t agile enough to adapt their style of play to counteract the game plan of each team they encountered.

Agility is crucial in rugby. Teams that can quickly change speed and direction or modify tactics to outwit, outsmart and outplay their opponents are the teams that gain the competitive edge and will ultimately win the game.

The same can be said for businesses operating in today’s digital economy. Organisations that can quickly adapt to market changes both internally and externally while responding to changing customer demands are the businesses that will not only survive but also thrive in what has become known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

And, at the centre of this revolution is the cloud.

How the cloud enables agility

Cloud empowers businesses with scalability and flexibility. By using cloud services, companies can ramp up their application and infrastructure needs when necessary and then scale them back when it’s not. Cloud also helps businesses unlock new capabilities and become more efficient. This in turn allows companies to enter new markets, launch new products or change business models faster to respond to changing customer needs.

Cloud computing is growing at a phenomenal rate. In fact, according to MarketsandMarkets™ the global cloud computing market size is expected to grow from $272 billion in 2018 to $623 billion by 2023. While cloud in Africa is in its relatively early stages of development, the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching.

The financial services sector is investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to create a better customer experience, public services are using the cloud to enhance service delivery, and retailers are leveraging big data to transform the way they engage with an increasingly digitally savvy consumer base. Over and above that, many cloud-native start ups are taking advantage of the cloud to disrupt entire industries.

Agility at the edge

We can’t have a conversation about the benefits cloud brings to businesses without mentioning the rise of edge computing. According to Gartner, 91% of today’s data is created and processed in centralised data centres but by 2022 about 75% of all data will need analysis and action at the edge.

Edge and the cloud work hand in hand. This is because the cloud empowers businesses to capture, store, and process big data without scaling servers and databases. However, with this increasing amount of data comes the need to process and analyse this data faster. Cloud computing alone can’t meet these demands, which is where edge computing enters the picture.

Edge computing adds an extra element of agility to businesses because companies can now process and analyse data closer to the source enabling quicker and more informed decision-making. For example, in agriculture, farmers can take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing to keep track of weather changes, monitor crop or animal health and make immediate decisions about potential environmental hazards or natural disasters.

Security in the cloud

However, despite the many obvious benefits of migrating to the cloud, security and privacy remain a common concern. This comes as no surprise because the relationship between security and agility in IT has historically been rather tenuous. Focusing on one meant sacrificing the other and vice versa.

Today, however, with the advent of cloud computing, businesses don’t need to compromise anymore. This is because the cloud reduces the total security surface area that in-house security experts need to manage themselves giving businesses the agility to focus their expertise on what matters most, pleasing customers and making a profit.

Lift and shift to lift and transform

For companies still looking to migrate to the cloud, the lift and shift approach has proven a worthy strategy for those wanting a speedy, low risk way to transfer workloads. But what if you had an option to not only lift and shift but lift and transform your underlying infrastructure as part of your digital transformation journey?

Hitachi Vantara assists organisations with setting up and managing secure cloud environments, migrating critical workloads, and establishing the proper framework for ongoing operations. The lift and transform approach is illustrated by a long and growing portfolio of cloud competencies earned from our experience serving various industries.

We understand that one of the biggest obstacles to companies embarking on their digital transformation journeys is the manual approach IT experts adopt to operate and maintain the new environment. Inefficient IT resources are expensive for businesses in both the short and long term, whether they exist on premises or in the cloud. To reduce the risk, time and resource commitments for cloud projects, Hitachi Vantara’s Cloud Accelerator platform provides end-to-end cloud automation that has customisable capabilities to address the specific requirements of each customer.

While South Africa has made major progress in terms of cloud adoption, the country still has a long way to go, especially from a regulatory standpoint. There is presently no uniform regulation for cloud services in South Africa and very little government incentive to encourage more businesses to stay ahead of the curve. However, there is no doubt that cloud has transformed the way businesses operate helping them overcome more challenges and respond to customer demands with more agility and dexterity than ever before. The question is no longer if we should migrate to the cloud but when and how we can do it in a way that accelerates application modernisation, lowers operating costs and maximises application performance.

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