Don’t be cloud-confused

This is the fourth and final blogpost of a series based on a panel discussion at the Resilience in Secondary Cities Forum, a two-day conference jointly organized by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Affairs, Oxfam, and Microsoft in March 2013. Four panelists were joined by 30 mayors from secondary cities in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to explore solutions on addressing pressing urban problems and discuss how technology can help build cities of the future.

You may also want to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Future-proofing cities: Health, Education, Public Safety, and Cloud Technologies (Part 4)

David Chandra, Director for Public Sector Cloud Services, Microsoft Asia

David Chandra, Director for Public Sector Cloud Services, Asia, discusses how organizations – SMBs and enterprises – can be enabled by the cloud. Among the 3 different types of clouds, leverage the one best suited to your needs. Are you a laggard, follower or leader?

For the past few years, there have been plenty of conversations about the cloud and how effective it is. Yet, there are those who still don’t quite understand what the cloud is and what it can truly enable. According to David Chandra, Director for Public Sector Cloud Services, Asia, Microsoft, anyone who has ever owned and used a Hotmail, Yahoo! mail or Gmail account for email has experienced the cloud and its benefits. But the cloud is capable of much more. It is also designed to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) carry out key business activities such as outsourcing business processes and communicating with international customers.

Late last year, Microsoft commissioned an independent study together with the Boston Consulting Group to survey 4,000 SMBs across five countries to find out more about their business habits and impact on their local economy. The results found that SMBs are very often the key economic drivers in many countries. In countries like China, SMBs are have a tremendous impact in terms of how much they contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and drive up employment rates.

According to David, SMBs can be classified into three different categories – laggards, followers, and leaders. Laggards are companies that hardly use or rely on technology. They may use a personal computer or laptop but that is the limit of their IT reliance. Followers are those who may use Microsoft Office and the Internet to work but their core business does not rely on technology. And leaders by definition are those who are avid users of technology and cloud services. David explains that cloud services make sense for SMBs who live and operate out of secondary cities as it reduces the amount of investment needed in physical infrastructure and also removes the hassle of trying to purchase hardware.

There is a clear correlation between technology and revenue generation within the SMB sector. Businesses who adopt or use cloud technologies have found to be growing their revenue 15% faster than their counterparts. In today’s climate the cloud allows businesses to focus on being part of a services economy by helping them to accelerate the outsourcing of business processes such as human resources, finance or accounting.

”Businesses who adopt or use cloud technologies have found to be growing their revenue 15% faster than their counterparts.”

Microsoft has extensive focus on the cloud and David explains that there are three different types of cloud that most people will hear of: the public cloud—you can think of this cloud as the one that provides services such as Outlook, Office 365, and also runs websites hosted by our servers. The second cloud is the service provider cloud that usually refers to a data center owned and set-up by a service provider looking to serve the local community. And last but not least is the private cloud which refers to a self-owned data center and server.

It is important that SMBs and enterprises can easily move between the three cloud options and leverage the one that is most suited to their needs. Whether it is a public, service provider, or private cloud, the ability to seamlessly move between the three allows businesses to place their trust in the right technology as business grows, or as and when demand escalates. This is at the core of Microsoft’s business, to help more companies and individuals migrate to the cloud at their own pace. However, moving to the cloud also poses a set of challenges – broadband is necessary to be able to access cloud services and so is having accessibility to the latest devices. In the long-term government and city leaders also need to consider how to equip people with the education and skills to enable business growth when working with new technologies and help SMBs open up to a broader international market too.

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