By Anoop Nambiar and Ritesh Pal
The government and public sector are undergoing digital transformation globally. Cloud computing has been a key enabler of this digital transformation story and has the potential to transform the government and public sector.
Traditionally cloud computing has been considered for cost savings. It was a cheaper alternative to on-premise IT infrastructure– primarily compute and storage purposes. However, both public and private sector organisations are now increasingly exploring the ‘real’ value cloud can deliver, especially how it can enable future innovation.
A clear case in point is the US Federal Government. Back in 2010, when it unveiled its ‘Cloud First’ policy, the objective was to ‘optimise government ICT spends by improving asset utilisation’. We are seeing a change now–while the importance on cost continues, the primary emphasis now is to ensure government agencies achieve business objectives.
The UK government has also adopted a cloud-first policy to foster innovation, enhance the agility of government agencies and improve citizen services. Recently, Bahrain unveiled its Cloud First policy.
The Indian government has adopted a similar approach too. One of the focal points of MeiTY’s strategic direction paper ‘GI-Cloud’ (aka Meghraj) was to ‘accelerate delivery of e-services in the country’.
All the above examples reinstate the fact that the value proposition for cloud is fast shifting from cost optimisation to delivering business value and driving future innovations. Cloud computing with its promise of almost infinite compute power, data storage and processing capacity which is secure, elastic, scalable, resilient and available in a subscription model lays the foundation for usage of emerging technologies like AI, robotic process automation (RPA), IoT, advanced analytics like big data analytics, Machine Learning ML, predictive models, etc. Most of these technologies are being increasingly used by governments globally.
Today, many of these services are also being delivered as pre-built platforms (i.e. platform as a service, PaaS) by leading cloud providers, thus significantly reducing the cycle time from ideation to execution. According to Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2020 report–government’ agencies should continually fund the innovation and scaling of new technologies and ideas. Whether through productivity improvements from agile or creative financing options, building prototypes to test new ideas (and scaling promising ones) can help make IT more efficient and effective’. In short, cloud can improve agility, reduce the cost of experimentation and enable future innovations among government and public sector entities.
But to realise cloud’s potential, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Based on our experience, we recommend the following:
- Define success in terms of business objectives: The success of any cloud initiative should not be measured in pure dollar value; instead, in terms of specific business objective it helped achieve. This needs to be imbibed in the overall organisational DNA.
- Align the organisational operating model: Traditional operating models and processes don’t usually scale to match the speed and agility cloud provides. Hence, these need to be re-organised to promote agility and innovation. Examples can be adjusting the traditional procurement process or re-aligning the service level agreements (SLA).
- Address data localisation issues: Many a time data localisation or data residency or other regulatory compliances are considered as roadblocks for cloud adoption. This can be avoided through proper due diligence while architecting cloud services. In addition, re-looking at the existing technology and data protection standards and updating them to include the best practices for cloud is also recommended.
- Explore beyond infrastructure services: Simply migrating application, data, and its associated infrastructure to the cloud may not allow government or public sector entities to leverage its full benefits. Instead, they need to explore platform services and move towards embracing cloud-native architectures.
Nambiar is partner, and Pal an associate director, Deloitte India. Views are personal