Cloud solutions in the era of accelerated agility
An Interview with Simon Quinton, Infor VP & GM of UK&I
Companies were already on a forward march to cloud computing, when the global pandemic hit and accelerated the need for agility. This urgency to adapt to changing conditions and empower a remote workforce is accentuating the benefits of cloud solutions. Without having to worry about the physical infrastructure of hardware and security, companies can rapidly deploy new end-to-end solutions to support major shifts in business models as they respond to market pressures and seize unfolding opportunities. Cloud solutions are in high demand among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Innovation is their survival tactic.
Simon Quinton, Infor VP and GM in the UK&I, compares the global upheaval to a double-edged sword. On one edge, the pandemic has causes massive disruption to companies. On the other, “it’s given organisations pause to think about how technology can support them in a world very different from the world before COVID. It has absolutely accelerated technology adoption in certain industries,” he says.
Key problems spots
Supply chain management is one function that has been deeply impacted, he says. Sudden severe shortages of goods, from facemasks to hand sanitizer and toilet paper, shined a glaring spotlight on the vulnerability of the traditional supply chain network. Commercial kitchens saw decreased demand, but the consumer market demand increased. Shifting the inventory to local grocery stores proved surprisingly difficult.
Retail, too, faced inventory challenges in attempts to accommodate buyers who are turning to online purchasing. Supporting such major changes with legacy software can be problematic. Heavily modified, traditional on-premises solutions take considerable time and coding expertise to update, leaving many companies struggling to adapt.
A matter of resilience
There is also general concern globally about what is happening in business as a whole. “Organisations are more concerned about sustainability and resilience—after the pandemic, too,” Quinton says. “Larger businesses are often better equipped to adapt, but the smaller companies may be harder hit, creating even greater disparity.”
The delta between those that adapt and those that don’t will keep widening as consumer spending, travel, and in-person activities return, many experts contend.
Innovation has been the economic lifesaver. Customers are using enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions to help create safe work environments. Manufacturers are using cloud ERP solutions to help accommodate component delays because of supply chain disruption. Retail stores are shifting to online models. Restaurants are turning their parking lots into outdoor, socially-distanced seating. Service companies are turning to virtual offerings. And, healthcare facilities are turning chaos into plans to create long-term relationships and growth. Software helps make these types of innovative, problem-solving changes happen. Cloud deployment means such changes happen remotely and quickly.
The companies that leverage technology now will be well positioned to apply innovation, digital strategies, and customer-centric thinking to their recovery process. Those that don’t keep pace with change will be playing catch-up—or may never rebound, says Quinton.
Many enterprises are planning for recovery now. “We are seeing organisations moving up plans that may have been number three or number-four on their priority lists. Now, they are seeing that a full enterprise-wide cloud deployment makes sense and needs to happen quickly.”
Cloud solutions leave much of the heavy-lifting, like servers, and security, compliance, back-ups, and ongoing updates, to the provider. No longer do IT teams need to devote months or years to planning upgrades or adding new functionality.
“Companies are no longer saying, ‘Why cloud?’ Now, they are looking at who can best accompany them on the journey. They are looking for who can get them up and running quickly, with the least disruption,” Quinton says.
Necessity dictates rapid deployment
Desire for a fast return on investment (ROI) is driving many organisations to make bold, confident leaps of faith in adopting new technologies, research shows. There’s less fretting over proof of concept programs and laborious trial projects. “Business leaders are saying that they’ve accomplished in 10 days what used to take them 10 months,” says Kate Smaje, a senior partner and global co-leader of McKinsey Digital. “That kind of speed is what’s unleashing a wave of innovation unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
Infor’s Agility: 60:30:10 model for deployment helps meet this demand for rapid implementation. The model calls for 60% of the functionality to be adopted “out of the box” and 30% to be achieved through industry-specific features and extensibility. That leaves 10% to be the organization’s true differentiators that are more personalized. By streamlining adoption this way, companies are seeing greater ease of implementation and faster time-to-value.
“It’s a change in mindset as much as a change in approach. Organisations have to recognize the value of shorter cycles and modernising their capabilities on a regular basis—rather than big upgrades every ten years or so,” Quinton says. The top executives are often the first ones to realise that modifications tend to slow down future progress and should be avoided when possible.
A recent McKinsey report notes, “The financial-planning process for 2021 presents an opportunity to turn hard-earned lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into an enduring exercise in linking strategy to value.”
Now, as leaders look ahead to the next year and beyond, they’re asking: How do we keep this momentum going? How do we take the best of what we’ve learned and put that into practice after the pandemic, and make sure it’s woven into everything we do going forward?
Modern cloud solutions provide the direct path to agility. And, working with a solution provider that has the same vision and the same commitment to business success is a giant leap in the right direction.