Cloud Week in the time of COVID – what have we learnt?  

As we come to the end of techUK’s annual Cloud campaign week it's time to pause and reflect on what we can learn from the insights shared this week and what this may mean for the future of cloud computing in the UK during the rest of 2020 and beyond.  

What is clear to me is this year’s Cloud week has felt very different. Not just because it's happening during the COVID-19 crisis but because, right now, we are all using cloud-based platforms, infrastructure and services in ways we have never done before. Including to work from home, run businesses, engage with clients and customers, educate our children and remain digitally together with friends and family while we are physically apart. The cloud has become a key part of not just our digital lives but everyday life in ways not seen before. 

The insights shared during Cloud week highlight how the cloud computing industry was, and continues to be, ready, willing and able to support UK organisations, communities, families and individuals during the pandemic. The current situation has clearly shone a bright light on the vital importance of cloud to business operations and resilience. A recent global survey by Snow Software found 82% of IT leaders have increased their use of cloud due to the pandemic.   

Expanding cloud adoption crucial to our recovery 

As we move towards focusing on the UK’s post COVID-19 recovery, cloud will have a key role to play in supporting our economic recovery. With organisations looking at how they operate in the new normal of social distancing it is likely that staff will continue to work from home using cloud-based services. Companies will be looking for innovative cloud supported digital tools and technologies (such as mobile apps, Augmented Reality and AI) to find ways to provide clients and customers with interactive, personalised services. Cloud will also be key to organisations looking for ways to reduce legacy IT operational costs and become more agile, efficient, competitive and resilient to future crises as they rebuild and regrow their operations.  

With cloud computing key to the UK’s economic recovery, it is important that we ensure the momentum and drive behind the adoption, deployment and use of cloud services continues. To do this we must find ways to support and guide organisations to securely shift more of their business operations to the cloud. We must also find and promote real life use cases where cloud services are making a difference right now to help businesses, particularly SMEs, understand how continued investment in cloud computing will be a powerful tool in their recovery toolbox.  Given the focus on rebuilding our economy in a green, sustainable way, it is important that we demonstrate how the use of cloud services can support and help in the fight against climate change.  

Role for Government in supporting cloud adoption 

There is also a clear role for Government to play in helping organisations to adopt more cloud-based services during the recovery phase. One move that could support organisations wanting to keep pace with cloud adoption is to review how the Government offers tax reliefs and incentives to companies. Across most of the reliefs on offer capital expenditure (CapEx) i.e. spending on equipment, IT and machinery is prioritised. This needs to be reviewed as day to day businesses are focusing more of their resource of operational expenditure (OpEx), for example paying for subscription cloud services or KYC and CRM software.  

At the moment the UK’s relief system does not provide a lot of support for companies to become first adopters of this technology, or incentivise its uptake in key sectors where it could help boost productivity and create new products and ways of delivering services.  

The impact of COVID-19 is making companies re-examine their business models and office spaces. For many businesses this may mean more home working and less need for office space. Already some data centres have reported increased demand for their services as businesses are moving away from capital purchases, such as their own servers and IT equipment, preferring instead to pay for these as a subscription service. 

Reorienting our financial relief to support this kind of operational spending will help businesses gain access to computing power, and resources that can support the development of new innovative business approaches. Helping organisations to gain access to cloud services should be a key priority for Government’s post Covid-19 economic recovery plans.   

Whilst cloud week may be coming to an end, the conversation around the importance of cloud computing to the UK’s economic and societal recovery, and what the future of cloud computing may look like beyond 2020, continues at techUK. This week has shown that there remain tremendous untapped opportunities for cloud to make a real difference across industries and sectors in the UK as we move forward. However, it has also highlighted that challenges to greater cloud adoption remain. These include the importance of making sure we address the cloud skills gap and ensure we have enough people with the cloud skills organisations need particularly right now, addressing continuing cyber security concerns and doing more to build greater trust in the security of cloud services.  

There remains work to be done, but never before has the adoption and use of cloud computing been more important to our future.  

This insight is part of techUK's Cloud Week 2020. You can find related news and insights here.

  • Sue Daley

    Sue Daley

    Associate Director | Technology & Innovation
    T 020 7331 2055

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