Utilising the cloud for new innovation

September 30, 2020 | 09:00
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Cloud computing is acting as an enabler for businesses to modernise their operations and gain agility to respond to competitive pressures in the ASEAN region amidst the devastating effects of the global health emergency.
1511p8 utilising the cloud for new innovation
Cloud computing can strengthen banks’ ability to speed up their digital transformation, photo Le Toan

Vietnamese company WeatherPlus has recently succeeded in monitoring the weather through more than 300 weather stations throughout the country.

It collects data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and transfers it to cloud computing through Amazon Website Services (AWS) to analyse the information. The group also tries to predict rainfall and analyse images to predict the spread of diseases in agricultural crops.

Just a few years ago, many would struggle to imagine that agricultural businesses in Vietnam could embark on a digitalisation journey, with farming deeply dependent on nature. But now, with cloud computing-based technology, farmers will have better information on weather patterns to increase yields.

WeatherPlus is not the only example of modern technology that can be used to solve problems. In ASEAN, especially in Vietnam where there is such vast agricultural land, traditional farming methods may not be able to yield optimal results.

Likewise, as a top performer in Vietnam’s sugar industry, Thanh Thanh Cong - Bien Hoa has moved to Oracle Cloud ERP, a platform that could support its growth and innovation pursuits across its businesses in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Singapore.

ACB, a Vietnamese privately-held lender, has also deployed Oracle cloud services to streamline all finance, procurement, and project expense management processes.

Most recently, Standard Chartered – which also operates in Vietnam – and Microsoft confirmed a three-year strategic partnership to accelerate the bank’s digital transformation through a cloud-first strategy.

It is slated to mark a significant milestone for Standard Chartered in making its vision for virtual banking, next-generation payments, open banking, and banking-as-a-service a reality by leveraging Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform.

More than three million organisations, including the world’s leading brands like American Express and Coca-Cola, now rely on GitHub to go from idea to code and code to cloud.

The current crisis has highlighted the urgent need to focus on digitalisation, and the need to embrace new and innovative technologies, such as cloud to emerge stronger and boost economic competitiveness.

In Southeast Asia, according to a report from Adroit Market Research, the cloud computing market revenue is estimated to reach $40.3 billion by 2025 as a result of an increased demand for cloud computing among small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Particularly, the Vietnamese cloud service market is projected to grow from $165 million in 2018 to $291 million by 2024, exhibiting a double-digit compound annual growth rate of over 10 per cent during the period of 2019-2024.

Pandemic catalyst

In Vietnam, with the trend of digital transformation spreading, along with the encouragement of the government through initiatives such as the National Digital Transformation Programme, more businesses are gradually applying cloud computing in their operations.

“What we are focused on right now is to help our customers and partners in Vietnam not only manage the unprecedented crisis effectively, but also build future resilience by investing in the right technologies and right skills for their people to be future ready,” said Conor McNamara, AWS managing director of ASEAN.

Phong Pham, managing director at Oracle Vietnam – the local franchise of the California-based integrated cloud applications and platform services provider – told VIR that he has witnessed an uptick in demand for cloud services from enterprises of all sizes in light of the current pandemic. For example, Vietnamese businesses are already embracing the power of cloud services in helping them lower their IT total cost of ownership.

“The opportunities that cloud creates are real and present today, providing the building blocks for companies to pioneer groundbreaking innovations and disrupt entire industries. We’re seeing financial services utilising AI for automatic forecasting without human intervention, to smart manufacturing utilising real-time IoT data for equipment optimisations,” Pham said.

The ongoing pandemic has posed a unique challenge across governments and businesses of all kinds in terms of being able to provide seamless services to their end-customers and stakeholders.

According to Vu Hoang Lien, chairman of the Vietnam Internet Association, this year is forecast to be the year of cloud computing when most of the workload will be gradually transferred to the cloud. In the next two or three years, cloud computing will likely present massive impacts on businesses and society – innovative cloud computing for AI and boosted business performance is upping the ante for most tech-led firms in Vietnam, as a common practice worldwide.

Pham The Truong, general manager at Microsoft Vietnam, told VIR that businesses that are fortified by digital technology are more resilient and more capable of transforming when faced with secular structural changes in the marketplace.

“Nearly 90 per cent of chief information officers say they will accelerate their public cloud investments, up from 54 per cent prior to the pandemic. The adoption of data and AI is increasingly a differentiator for every business, as is multi-sense, multi-device collaboration, which has made remote everything possible,” Truong emphasised. “These secular trends are fundamentally reshaping every industry, across the public and private sectors. We call this tech intensity, and every organisation in every industry will increasingly need to embrace it to be successful and grow.”

Vietnam presents a significant opportunity to accelerate digital transformation across all sectors of the economy by working closely with international technology companies in the development of policies and a regulatory framework that facilitate adoption of cloud computing technologies.

Deciphering the patterns

Businesses that sell cloud-based software services to businesses have largely been a sweet spot, especially since the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation.

Companies ranging from Microsoft and Zoom to Oracle, Amazon, and IBM have recently reported a surge in usage of their cloud-based businesses as more companies seek to rapidly accommodate their remote workers.

Meanwhile, experts believe 90 per cent of all manual IT operations and data management tasks will be completely automated, opening the door to a new era of IT innovation.

While some technology professionals are still consumed with routine operations such as backing up, scaling, tuning, monitoring, and securing critical information systems, autonomous databases are quickly making these activities a thing of the past.

As IT professionals shed a progressively larger portion of these administrative tasks, they will have more time to develop analytic applications and bring new revenue producing products and services to market. Cloud computing enables organisations to innovate faster than ever before. Liberated IT workers have more time to explore the latest advancements in AI and machine learning – from conversational user interfaces to blockchain to the IoT.

Pham of Oracle also drew examples that self-learning systems automate the collection of data across multiple applications, and can automatically visualise millions of data points.

By displaying enterprise data through graphs, charts and animations, business users can more easily perceive trends, patterns, and correlations in their data, rather than trying to glean insights from columnar reports and spreadsheets. The cloud moves these advanced technologies into the mainstream.

“Leveraging Oracle’s deep expertise in data management, and with over 40 years’ experience in helping customers manage their mission-critical data, Oracle is supporting customers using their data to innovate, create new experiences, deliver differentiation, and understand their businesses better,” Pham added.

McNamara from AWS explained, “We are always looking for the best ways to help our customers and partners in ASEAN and Vietnam - both right now, and in the long-term to build business resilience. We believe the next big thing in technology will come from our customers who will invent and build innovative solutions leveraging AWS services to solve problems for their customers or industries. Modern technology is becoming incredibly popular, especially here in Asia.”

Truong of Microsoft also expressed his optimism. “We commit to develop the digital skills of the nation, having best practices that local businesses can learn from. We also have 61 data centre regions today, more than any other cloud provider - and more compliance certifications with 90 plus. Customers understand our overall differentiation, and today 95 per cent of companies in the Fortune 500 list are running on our Azure platform.”

By Luu Huong and Thanh Van

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