Accenture Cloud First's Ryoji Sekido tells us why only a third of companies are happy with their cloud transformation journeys.

Accenture Cloud First’s Ryoji Sekido tells us why only a third of companies are happy with their cloud transformation journeys. (Photo by Pau Barrena / AFP)

Accenture on building business innovation on top of the cloud

Like it or not, 2020 was a major transformative year for businesses, with most organizations forced to transform their operating models and introduce new ways of working. Companies that have weathered the pandemic storm are either gathering or are in the process of analyzing data to determine if more operational changes are needed – with effective use of cloud contributing an additional layer of resiliency in the face of all the uncertain changes.

In fact, the latest research on cloud outcomes for businesses here in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region from multinational consultancy Accenture suggests that the greater the company pivots towards cloud, the better the potential outcomes. “Cloud-first” might even be the best way forward, especially in light of the rapid adoption that was a major digital transformation enabler for many enterprises over the past year, and beyond.

This rapid take-up means that cloud might well be one of the defining business strategies for enterprises around APAC – but comprehensive cloud migrations still remain elusive, with a mere 37% of companies saying they are achieving the full value expected on their cloud investments, according to Accenture Cloud First.

Since launching its cloud division in September 2020, Accenture Cloud First has expanded with multiple cloud-related capabilities including consulting about cloud migration or cloud strategy, and has built its offerings out with technological capabilities inclusive of cloud applications and infrastructure, says Ryoji Sekido, the Accenture Cloud First Lead for Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.

“The cloud is quite essential technology. When the client thinks about any digital transformation, the cloud is so important for any digital transformation, you know, the client is seeking for that,” Sekido told Tech Wire Asia about why Accenture clients had already been looking towards the cloud, even years before the pandemic accelerated adoption.

“But everybody recognized when once the pandemic situation popped up, they needed to move back to the old, regular batch working environment,” he continued. “But if the client runs the business systems already on top of cloud, they don’t have so much issues for business continuity. So that’s why running the core system or core application system on top of cloud, it’s going to be very important.”

The Accenture Cloud First Lead for APAC mentioned how nearly overnight, governments and medical services needed to quickly develop new applications or patient management and logistics systems for detecting symptoms, contact tracing, and other emergency preventive measures associated with the pandemic. “They needed to quickly build this kind of application, but cloud is the most readable platform to build this kind of application at speed, with agility, right?”

That sort of flexible, quicker-paced application building on the cloud would appeal to the Accenture cloud clients as well. “Most of the client business, they had an aspiration to move to the cloud, but now COVID-19 has really turned the cloud from just aspiration level to more like an urgent mandate for most of the business enterprises in the market,” intoned Sekido, who feels that enterprises not only grasp what cloud can bring to the table, but that service providers “need to clarify the clear linkage of the cloud technology and also the client’s business imperatives.”

“But a fundamental benefit of cloud which is also a much more scalable business outcome – if they [the Accenture client] want to seek for that, we really need to clarify how the cloud technology could reinvent their business.”

As for why only little more than a third of respondents in Accenture’s own enterprise survey are satisfied with their utilization of cloud services, Sekido says that the “cloud migration story, or cloud transformation story, is not an easy one [for firms].”

“A lot of legacy systems,” he remarked. “And then, you know, if they try to lift and shift those existing applications to a cloud environment very quickly, the client might end up having some financial constraints because they [had already] invested a lot of money for legacy systems.”

Not utilizing those legacy systems to their fullest value could result in depreciation of those assets, and hurt the company financially. “So if you move to the cloud and sort of threw away the legacy infrastructure, they’re going to have a short-term financial impact, that might be a bottleneck. And the other challenges, it brings me back to the point of performing only short-term cost optimization without any clear business strategy.”