[India MSME Summit 2021] How ‘as-a-service’ solutions can provide a flexible and scalable IT edge to businesses

Speaking at MSME Summit 2021, experts reveal how SMBs and MSMEs can use flexible consumption or everything-as-a-service (XaaS) solutions to ensure business efficiency.
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Digitisation among businesses across sectors was underway in India, but digital adaptation rapidly boomed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid one of the largest global healthcare crises, businesses are innovating to stay afloat and grow.

The increased digitisation has also led to an increase in demand for cloud technologies and everything-as-a-service solutions, especially for IT. According to a report by Deloitte, 71 percent of companies believe that XaaS (flexible consumption or everything-as-a-service) solutions make up more than half of their organisation’s enterprise IT.

While speaking at YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021 themed around ‘COVID-19 lockdown and the road to recovery’, Ankur Sharma, VP of Analytics at Instamojo, said they had been using as-a-service solutions across multiple domains including data as a service. 

“We have tried to only focus on our core capabilities when building things in-house, but for other things, we procured services from other companies, who are excellent at providing what they do, and rather use their services to get the ground up and running really fast," Ankur says.

“Some of the examples that we have used are pipelining as a service. So, all our data pipelining is built using third parties, service providers. These are typically cloud-based plug-and-play solutions that allow you to very quickly create all your data, plumbing, and data pipelines. This avoids the need to have several engineers working on something that is standardised and can be bought off the shelf at a much cheaper cost than building it yourself,” he adds.

Similarly, Arpit Agarwal, Vice President - Analytics & Data Science at Khatabook adds that the startup is also using XaaS solutions for optimising its campaigns, acquiring users among others.

The advantages XaaS offers

Speaking to Dr Madanmohan Rao, Research Director at YourStory, during the event, Vivek Sharma, Managing Director at ISG India (Lenovo), said industries were transforming and new business models and innovations would evolve owing to the pandemic situation.

“This trend is unfolding where cloud and collaboration services platforms have exploded... that is the simplest way I can put it overall. If you see our recent announcements for desktop as a service...you will still have end users and they would need laptops. So that itself is as a service, depending on how many you have. As you add people, you just scale it up as a service.

“This comes across as a part of an end-user perspective… Now, if there are MSMEs, which would have a regulatory or a compliance environment depending on the vertical that you are in, the same can be offered for the core part of the solution also,” he says.

Speaking about Lenovo’s offerings from an SMB perspective, services like hosted desktops reduces price-per-user with 62 percent lower infrastructure management costs, and are also easy to scale.

According to George Chacko, Director of Global Accounts (Lenovo) Intel, as-a-service solutions can be majorly adopted by industries or small and medium businesses, which are operating in cyclical framework, capital-intensive sectors, innovative and security industries, and distributed businesses

He explained that businesses in capital-intensive industries would need to ensure that capital was focused on the core business and not on building IT infrastructure. 

“The pandemic has shown what a distributed business could look like. So, if your users are across a wide area, either geographically or even conceptually, then you need a service that adapts to that very easily. If a person moves from city A to city B, s/he is not constrained by your IT infrastructure available in cities A or C. The as-a-service model kind of makes up for it,” he explained. 

What SMBs must remember

George said SMBs needed to have a plan beforehand and not try to figure it out along the way. 

“The first thing I would ask the SMEs to do is to do a bit of planning; you can't figure out as you go. It does allow you to scale up and down, but it doesn't take away the need for planning,” he said.

He explained that SMBs needed to keep in mind that the adoption of XaaS suite can be disruptive at the beginning before the business model and employees get used to it. 

“As an SMB, there will be things that you will want to keep in your on your premise...you have got to understand what is legacy? What don't I want to move? What parts of data do I want to keep within my control? What can I move to the cloud,” he said.

Ankur added that one of the most critical points is to evaluate the right fit for opting for the XaaS route versus doing it in-house. 

“As an SMB, you cannot really build an entire business just on top of SaaS services... you will have to make sure that SaaS is being used to make your organisation efficient, make your business like grow faster. However, the core business proposition is something you will have to build yourself,” Ankur said. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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