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Predicting A Better India For 2021 And Beyond

In the new normal, as individuals and businesses we will have to move much faster, with agility and experiment and innovate like we have never done before. That is the true legacy of the pandemic, and it is my key prediction for 2021.

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What have we learnt from 2020?

The year 2020 has taught us many things, but one lesson that stands out for me is the need to adapt quickly to the uncertainty and the constant change around us. Agility has always been critical for businesses, but it has now become the only true sustainable advantage. Simply put, the ability to experiment, adapt, and pivot quickly as the world around us becomes more volatile and unpredictable, is more important than ever. 

Cloud is the new normal

Cloud allows customers to respond well to uncertainty and is the foundation for agility. Cloud has become the business enabler as companies of every size deploy new applications to the cloud by default, and are looking to migrate as many of their existing applications as they can as quickly as possible. The number one reason businesses are moving to the cloud is agility and speed. It’s not only the ability to spin up (and spin down) thousands of servers in minutes; it is also about having access to a plethora of services at their fingertips to turn ideas into products and services in several orders of magnitude faster than they could before. This is not just true for businesses. Cloud made it possible for tens of thousands of Indian students to remain connected to their studies from home, and for people in remote areas to access vital healthcare services during the pandemic. 

Organizations that were building a cloud-based architecture before the pandemic struck were able to react to external events much better; they could scale down by shutting down services they no longer needed and scale up those that mattered most. For example, the lifestyle brand Chumbak operates roughly 50 percent of its business through a web store, and saw 10 times growth in volumes due to some campaigns. That growth could not have been supported using on-premises computing hardware.

It was the cloud’s flexibility that enabled organizations to respond quickly during the initial phases of the crisis and implement strategies to reposition themselves for the long term. For example, the loan application process in India is time-consuming and applicants are required to meet with a credit officer in person to discuss the terms of the loan and share physical documents for verification. Since the COVID-19 pandemic prevented banks from meeting customers in person, WorkApps created a cloud based secure video-integrated digital solution to enable the loan application process to be done remotely—including a video call, where applicants could share digital documents for verification, and instantly find out the outcome of the application. During the lockdown period, WorkApps conducted 40,000 Know Your Customer (KYC) sessions and reduced bank customer verification times from days to seconds.

That is good news for those companies, but it is also good for the people of India. Because, something else we witnessed through 2020 was how our customers stepped up and used cloud technology to build outcomes that benefit citizens and move the country forward. We saw a new generation of digital small and medium businesses adopt technology and digitize to serve their customers and keep their employees safe. I am excited to say we are only at the early stages of learning the full range of benefits cloud tools can provide.

Werner Vogels predicts  how technology will continue to change our lives in the coming year

At AWS’s annual re:invent conference, held virtually in December for the first time, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer & VP, Werner Vogels outlined eight predictions that he believes will shape the development of the cloud in 2021. 

For starters, Werner predicts that in 2021 the cloud will be truly everywhere, meaning people can use it to build solutions that reach even the most remote communities. 

And he says the cloud is also ensuring these new digital services are easier to use, by predicting that in 2021 pictures, video, and audio will speak more than words.

This means interactions will move away from keyboards towards more natural methods, such as voice controls. This will be especially welcome for people with disabilities or low literacy, but will also provide a more pleasant and efficient experience for every digital service user.

Simplification at the human level only comes about however because of the massive leaps forward in the technology that resides in the cloud itself. Another of Werner’s predictions was that advanced technologies such as machine learning (ML) will reach the mainstream in 2021, becoming embedded in processes such as manufacturing production lines, or helping farmers better manage soil and water resources. Of course all of this will be invisible to the farmers and factory workers themselves. But then that is the whole point of technology – to help us do the things we want to do more easily, and not get in the way.

What is in store for us in 2021?

Most enterprises today are optimised for efficiency and not agility. A trend that I predict will be most important in India this year, is the shift towards optimizing businesses for agility first and not efficiency alone. Cloud changes everything when it comes to agility, and organizations will capitalise on the advances they made in cloud adoption in 2020 and accelerate retooling of their businesses for agility and innovation. Moving to the cloud is not just about changing your Infrastructure. Cloud-native companies adopt many related agile practices like DevOps, microservices, or containerization for speed and faster time to market.

A customer recently reminded me that that pace of change would never be this slow. Read this again! What he meant was, that the pace of change we have seen last year is now the new baseline and the metabolic rate of change will only go up from here. We will not go back to how things were, when we had the luxury of months, quarters, and even years to take decisions on digital road maps. 

At a personal level, none of us had any pattern recognition to encounter the level of uncertainty that we have seen in the last year. As leaders, we need to develop tolerance for ambiguity, and learn to be ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’ as the world around us becomes more dynamic than ever. 

In the new normal, as individuals and businesses we will have to move much faster, with agility and experiment and innovate like we have never done before. That is the true legacy of the pandemic, and it is my key prediction for 2021.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Puneet Chandok

The author is President, Commercial Business – AISPL, AWS India & South Asia

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