Digital Future

Designing the Right Cloud-App Strategies to Win Customers

February 24, 2017 at 9:10 AM | Approx. reading time 5 mins.

Today's business is where the digital customer is, and enterprises must go the extra mile to create contextual, online user journeys for their customers. Data about every click, like, view, and share can be the catalyst for creating better offerings. Cloud-native solutions around Internet-of-Things (IoT) and blockchain need massive processing capability churning large volumes of data. Real-time data gathered from every device is essential to enhance product performance, and the need is to shift from data centers, to putting 'data at the center'.

Rethinking cloud

The expectations from cloud technologies are changing and expanding beyond cost. There is a shift in approach to cloud adoption -- from infrastructure-centric to application-centric. By creating new, cloud-native applications and integrating them with existing legacy Systems of records / engagements, enterprises can transform user journeys quickly and accurately in the digital era. There is also a massive drive to create standalone cloud native applications that can scale massively, are agile, and address new functionalities. While 'born in the cloud' companies had this advantage, leading enterprises have also taken a step in this direction. Capital One, an American bank holding company uses Alexa to enable customers to bank through mobile voice-based queries. Customers can now check credit balances and pay bills through the Alexa app. Adobe too has migrated its entire Creative Suite to the Creative Cloud. Through lower prices, faster innovation, and effective features, Adobe is trying to up the customer experience via applications on cloud.

Customer-experience gains priority over applications and IT infrastructure for enterprises aiming to go digital. Applications need to undergo change continuously to address new functionalities and enhance customer experience. DevOps brings in technology innovation with zero-touch automation across the IT value stream, offers process transformation using lean and agile practices and enables people transformation through an integrated team model. To improve customer experience significantly, every enterprise's focus has to be at the intersection of apps and infrastructure.

Here are three outcomes that will define futuristic customer experience:

  • New applications in days, not weeks
  • This is the new normal to keep digital customers engaged online. By deploying apps on the cloud, enterprises can reduce the time required to set up infrastructure, experiment with functionalities, and go-live.

  • The right decisions, in seconds
  • Cloud-native apps can function automatically and optimize features to ensure continuous business operations. GE, for instance, uses the Digital Twin to execute 'what if' scenarios and analyze data to create outcomes. This ensures that enterprises can minimize risks of unplanned downtime and optimize human resources for more valuable work.

  • Top performance, always
  • Behind every engaging digital user interface, the integration of numerous products, multiple marketing offers, complicated pricing structures, several business rules, and more, must happen in real-time. Through multi-cloud environments, businesses can rely on more than one cloud service provider to simplify large-scale operations, avoid vendor lock-ins, manage varied workloads, gain agility to address new requirements, and isolate system failures. This implies minimal downtime, greater reliability, and faster operations for customers.

    In a study conducted by 451 Research, it was estimated that 49 percent of enterprises will invest in business applications across ERP, CRM, and more; in the next two years3. For organizations that want to fast-track digitalization, adopting 'application-centric models' across functions is the next big step forward.

Here are three outcomes that will define futuristic customer experience:

A robust cloud platform is the prerequisite for every successful application-centric infrastructure.

So, what is the ideal approach for application migration to the cloud? Should all applications be re-engineered? For many businesses, a convincing proof-of-concept can combine the following three cloud migration models to drive effectiveness:

  • Quick Results Model
  • Applications are recreated on cloud as-is, or without any change in architecture or functionality. This reduces infrastructure costs in the short-term, and organizations can focus on improving security and functionality of their applications.

  • Rapid Scale Model
  • Applications are recreated on the cloud. They are also tweaked to increase scalability and efficiency. In most scenarios, the application is migrated to open platforms, such as Linux, to ensure applications perform better and are more reliable.

  • Innovative Features Model
  • Applications are rebuilt from scratch to suit today's digital imperatives. It involves deploying the latest technologies as microservices.

Experience and Expertise Crucial for Quick Results

With extensive experience in migrating applications to cloud, I believe that 100 percent re-engineering of applications need not be the only option. Effective cloud migrations have been structured around an 80:20 ratio

  • 70-80 percent effort to re-engineer applications (a new service in the digital world)
  • 20-30 percent effort to pure-play migration (lift and shift, re-platforming)

For enterprises to reap the benefits of futuristic technologies, they should not limit their investments to cloud alone. The next big thing is to simultaneously invest in platforms of advanced technologies such as blockchain, IoT, analytics, and more; and drive seamless interoperability amongst these.

To deliver simple, yet engaging experiences, applications are the oxygen that businesses need. Managing these applications on-premise is guaranteed to incur huge costs to every enterprise sooner or later. Thus, while the need to migrate applications to the cloud is well-established, the right approach is beyond re-hosting or re-engineering.