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Customers Will Realise Importance of Investing In Cloud Amid Economic Uncertainties: Puneet Chandok

Puneet Chandok, President of Commercial Business, AWS India & South Asia, in an exclusive interaction with Arjun Yadav of BW Businessworld, reflects on certain contemporary themes in cloud computing, the macroeconomic uncertainty around the world and how it will impact cloud spending

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What are some of the contemporary themes that stand out for you in cloud computing and how is AWS addressing them?
There are two or three themes that stand out. The first one is how do we simplify and make it easier for people to manage and analyse their data? How do we streamline data collection, data management and data administration? And ultimately, we are doing all this because businesses and users want insights. The Amazon DataZone and AWS Clean Rooms address these concerns. Then many customers in India are now thinking about security differently because you have data coming in through different unstructured sources. AWS Security Lake helps them automatically build a data lake and get all the data together on security, allowing them to detect, manage, control, and so on. The second thing we are looking at is the focus on industry solutions. Cloud brings the best of building tools for developers, but we are also looking at how we solve the biggest problems that our industries face. Third, of course, is sustainability. Our water pledge is that by 2030 we will be net positive, meaning that we will return more water than what we use for our infrastructure.

Could you give some examples of industry focused solutions and how AWS’ solutions come into play to address them?
If you look at the last two or three years, we assumed that supply chains work in a certain way, but we never had the visibility and transparency we needed. For example, there were shortages across infrastructure, hardware etc. We are now trying to create this supply chain solution, which helps you bring all your supply chain data together that brings a ton of visibility into where things are, allowing you to do analysis and forecasting.

Another example is Amazon SimSpace Weaver. It allows you to run simulations at a level we have never seen before. So, for a city like New Delhi, it enables you to simulate how the city will develop as the population grows. Simulate how long an ambulance takes from point X to point Y as the number of cars increases. All of this was difficult because of the extensive data involved, which requires a ton of computing and storage.

Also, we have Amazon Omics, which from a biotechnology perspective, brings a lot of this data together. To reiterate, rather than just looking at the building blocks, the philosophy is to solve the biggest problems from an industry perspective through our solutions.

What are your views on the cloud adoption rate in India and what makes the Indian market different?
To me, there are three reasons why the Indian market stands out. First, from a demand perspective, cloud penetration is still in the single digits in India. This tells you the total addressable potential in India is much larger than anywhere else in the world. We are the third largest startup ecosystem in the world; we have around 75 million SMEs in India, so there is no market like India from the demand perspective.

Second, from the supply perspective, India has never been short of talent. We have trained four million people in cloud skills since 2017; imagine the potential it can unlock. We have to skill many more, but from a supply perspective, it is important because it allows you to build capabilities.

Third, simply is the Indian customers and partners. My experience shows they are far more open to innovation, experimentation, and ideas. At the same time, India is also becoming an innovation hub where you can build and export to the world. India's tech stack can now be exported to the world rather than the other way around.

We are very excited about the opportunity in India and are continuing to invest in India. In November last year we announced the launch of our second region in India – the AWS Asia Pacific (Hyderabad) Region, consisting of three availability zones. The new AWS Asia Pacific (Hyderabad) Region is estimated to support more than 48,000 full-time jobs annually through a planned investment of more than $4.4 billion in India by 2030. The construction and operation of the AWS Asia Pacific (Hyderabad) Region is estimated to add approximately $7.6 billion to India’s gross domestic product by 2030.

Tell us about some customer success stories. How have they been able to scale up their operations through cloud?
We are India’s most well-deployed, largest, and broadest cloud platform. We have hundreds of thousands of customers today. If we look segment by segment, insurers were always ahead of the pack. The largest insurance companies in India are all building on AWS in the cloud. One of the recent examples is ICICI Lombard. They completed their cloud migration to AWS in March 2022, migrating over 600 servers, 100 applications including the core system, and 1000 terabytes of data.

Banks are a little behind, but they are catching up. If you look at Axis Bank, their MD & CEO Amitabh Chaudhary has gone public to say that 70 per cent of the workload will be on the cloud, with AWS as the primary cloud provider. We are working with them to build savings accounts that can be opened in less than six minutes. Similar transformations are underway at RBL Bank and IndusInd Bank.

In manufacturing, if you look at Ashok Leyland, their data scientists are now working with AWS to look at telematics data, and they have become much faster and more accurate.

One of India’s leading tyre manufacturers, Apollo Tyres moved to AWS to digitise its manufacturing process. It has also connected all of its manufacturing factories to AWS using AWS IoT services like SiteWise and Greengrass to improve its operational efficiency and is using Amazon Rekognition to detect quality defects in tyres.

The IT sector is both our customer and partner, and they are using Amazon Connect to build a channel experience for their customers. Long story short, almost every industry in India is being invented and reinvented with AWS and cloud.

Upscaling of the workforce is an integral component of creating a secure cloud architecture. What is your experience on this front?
Across India, the need for urgent digital skills training remains a key priority for industry and government. AWS is deeply committed to working alongside government and industry to address the digital skills gap. We have trained over 4 million individuals in India with cloud skills since 2017.

As per the report “Asia Pacific digital skills study: The economic benefits of a tech-savvy workforce,” commissioned by AWS and conducted by Gallup, workers in India who use advanced digital skills – including cloud architecture or software development – contribute an estimated $507.9 billion to India’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). Secondly, 80 per cent of organisations in India that employ workers with advanced digital skills report higher annual revenue growth and thirdly, 92 per cent of employers in India say technologies like AI, edge and quantum computing, blockchain, and cryptocurrency are likely to become a standard part of their future business operations.

What is your forecast for cloud spending amid macroeconomic uncertainties around the world?
Economic uncertainty exists worldwide, and customers are very conscious about cost. In such an uncertain environment, being on the cloud and using technology in a meaningful way is even more critical. Compared to an on-prem environment, you can switch on and off, with the ability to scale up and down, reducing your cost. We are working very closely with our customers in India and globally to help them optimise their spending on the cloud. We try to ensure customers get more impact from the cloud and return on their investment. At Amazon, our mission is to be the Earth's most customer-centric company.

In the long term, however, there is a clear realisation that we are moving into a world that will be more uncertain. In such an environment, you need agility which comes through technology and cloud, which reacts well to uncertainty.

We will come out of this crisis, and whenever we do, we will come out much stronger. Customers and partners will realise the importance of investing more in the cloud and building more on it versus on-prem.

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Magazine 03 June 2023