Cloud Computing Is A Force Multiplier For Emerging Markets

Sandeep Mathur| Forbes

As we prepare to host Oracle CloudWorld New Delhi, on January 22, it’s an opportune time to examine the adoption dynamic of this transformative technology in emerging and developing nations.

In the United States, cloud computing is essentially an additional—albeit welcome—option for businesses to choose (or not) from a mature palette of available technologies. In India, cloud is still viewed as a somewhat disruptive force. Many businesses, academic communities, and even governments are excited about the scalability, flexibility, and utility-based pricing that cloud offers. At the same time, they’re concerned about the social and economic challenges presented by this new computing paradigm.

Spotlighting the contrast in another way, cloud adoption by U.S. businesses tends to be driven by the economic considerations of individual organizations. In India, whenever cloud is discussed, cost is of course important. However, cloud is also thought of within the context of India’s focus on achieving its developmental goals. Namely, how can cloud help India grow its economy and enhance its standing as a global leader in innovation?

For India, cloud appears to be an obvious fit, as it can help remove barriers to costly technology, opening opportunities for new services and products. A key objective is to encourage small business owners, new entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and academia to collaborate and share knowledge.

We like to say that, as a nation, the cloud is the force-multiplier that India must embrace with purpose and clarity.

OK, now that I’ve discussed the perspective that will inform attendees of Oracle CloudWorld New Delhi, let’s look at developing-nation adoption within a global context. In its IDC Predictions 2014, the market research firm International Data Corp. predicts that worldwide spending on the cloud, including cloud services and enabling technologies, will grow by 25% in 2014, reaching a staggering $100 billion.

Emerging markets, unburdened by the legacy of older systems in their IT infrastructure, have historically leapfrogged more mature markets. They have the potential to be more nimble in  embracing new technologies. Historically, we’ve seen this pattern most notably in mobile communications and mobile business applications. Cloud similarly offers an opportunity for far-sighted countries to achieve leadership positions.

However, adoption curves aren’t uniform across all emerging markets, according to research from the BSA (formerly known as the Business Software Alliance). As the 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard [PDF download] notes, the so-called BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—take up the rear in implementing policies considered crucial to incentivizing cloud adoption. All stand at the bottom half of 24 countries in the survey, which also make up 80% of the market for information and computing technologies (ICT) worldwide. (ICT is an acronym which originated in England and is generally used outside of the U.S., where IT is preferred.)

As a recent analysis from the World Trade Organization [PDF download] makes clear, the following implications of the cloud are hard to ignore, especially for an India that is developing rapidly:

  • The cloud has the potential to catalyze greater competition to produce value-added products of much higher quality as goods and services in the world economy become ever more dependent on ICT.
  • ICT riding on the cloud is crucial to making the knowledge economy a reality. Cloud offers an important mechanism for emerging economic blocs like the BRICS nations to expand global trade. It’s also key to so-called “South-South” commerce (i.e., trading between developing nations).
  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) empowered by the cloud can stimulate job creation faster and reduce barriers to new products and business models.
  • The cloud can help governments expand scale in their ability to deliver core services more economically and effectively to citizens in healthcare, telecommunications, education, financial access, and other services aimed at meeting social equity goals.

Such unlimited potential is why cloud is beginning to catch fire here. Indeed, we’re already seeing numerous, promising examples of adoption.

Companies like, and are already leveraging the benefits of the Oracle Cloud for their businesses feeding into opportunities offered by a rapidly expanding ecommerce market in India.  According to a Forrester Research report, ecommerce revenues in India are projected to reach $8.8 billion by 2016, up five-fold from $ 1.6 billion in 2012.

In other sectors, we are also seeing many successful experiments in the Indian marketplace. For example, cloud-based email and mobile applications are helping make public healthcare delivery much more effective. Indian farmers are beginning to apply cloud to support access data—literally—in the middle of their fields, obviated the need to stop work to go and access a centralized computing resource. Such successful proof-points are expected to encourage replication across the entire agricultural sector.

At Oracle, we have been part of this gradual shift in the way India is adopting these technologies and shown how this new approach to using technology can allow India to become far more competitive in the global marketplace.

The examples I’ve cited are part of a narrative that’s strengthening and becoming part of mainstream conversation in India. The discussion, and many use cases, will take center stage at Oracle CloudWorld New Delhi. If you can’t be there, I’ll try to return to this space with a follow-up post discussing the event, where leaders of organizations large and small will share success stories of how cloud adoption has helped to transform their businesses.


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