Amazon Web Services (AWS) with more than 200 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 81 Availability Zones within 25 geographic regions, announced plans for 27 more Availability Zones and nine more AWS Regions in Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates. During an interaction with Nitisha; Anupam Mishra, Head of Technology & Solution Architecture, AWS India and South Asia highlights the latest developments and future plans.
Kindly talk about your latest developments in the SMB space?
At AWS, we are making it as easy as possible for all customers to access the technology and technical support they need. We offer SMBs scalability, reliability, ease of use, enhanced security and compliance, and an effective pay-as-you-go cost model that enhances affordability by focusing on operating expense (opex), compared to a more expensive and riskier capex model.
In January 2020, Amazon had announced an additional investment of $1 billion to digitally enable 10 million MSMEs, enable ecommerce exports worth $10 billion and create 1 million additional jobs in India by 2025. The company is on track to fulfil these commitments. Since inception, Amazon has cumulatively digitized 2.5 million MSMEs, driven exports worth $3 billion and created 1 million jobs in India. As part of this digitization initiative, AWS launched the Amazon Digital Suite in 2021. The Amazon Digital Suite is a set of easy-to-use readymade software powered by AWS, available at attractive price points through the familiar Amazon.in Marketplace. Amazon Digital Suite is designed to automate SMBs’ day-to-day business needs like customer support, chat, lead management, payroll, HR, payments and credits and it comes with consolidated invoicing, auto-renewal, and evergreen, one-touch support.
AWS also recently introduced an initiative called SMEoncloud, which is an endeavour and commitment of AWS to democratize and accelerate SME Cloud Adoption. This is a year-long campaign that will also showcase key business leaders from SME’s who will share their insights, experiences and perspectives on digital transformation, hopefully inspiring many to leverage cloud for accelerated growth. This shall augment our similar initiatives and endeavours for democratising Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, including programmes of training and crystallising the talent pool.
According to you, how does technology help SMBs?
It is now evident that companies that were on or were building a cloud-based architecture, were able to react to the effects of the pandemic a lot better than others. They were able to shut down or add workloads, shift to much cheaper services incredible quickly and overall, they did not have the technical debt or burden on their shoulders.
SMBs have also begun riding the digitization wave. Today, there is a new generation of ‘Digital SMBs’ who are embracing mobile-first solutions, improving discoverability online, embracing e-commerce, and looking at technologies like machine learning, IoT, and data analytics to build differentiated product offering for their customers. Following are the examples to showcase how SMBs have been able to innovate and differentiate using technology:
- Chumbak, which is an interesting lifestyle brand, has seen 10 times traffic growth to their web store driven by campaigns, and they’re using AWS Auto Scaling to scale up and meet that demand while paying for only what they use at any time.
- Havmor, an ice cream manufacturer and a 75-year-old brand in India, were in rapid expansion mode and it was seamless for Havmor to migrate SAP on AWS. They opted for AWS cloud because of the need for scalability, reliability, and security, and have faced zero downtime till date which would have otherwise meant a loss of 50 lacs to 2 crores depending on the season.
How can small businesses leverage AWS’s digital solutions to their advantage?
As SMBs embrace cloud, they want to leverage their cloud investments for increased agility, thus achieving revenue growth by scaling faster than ever before. As the leading cloud provider for SMBs in their digital transformation journey, we see their technology usage evolving at a rapid pace. As they mature, SMBs are migrating their websites to cloud and leveraging cloud for storage, and are now moving business critical solutions like SAP, core server workloads, and key applications to the cloud.
For SMBs to scale technology at the optimum rate, it is important for them to understand their needs. For example, the Amazon Digital Suite is customised to SMBs based on their needs such as simplicity, low prices, and support. We cover basic technology needs of SMBs from Compliance (e.g., business, tax, contracts) and payment & receivable, to modern solutions (e.g., AI, ML, IOT). With such a focused solution, SMBs can run and grow their business, and over time adopt more technology as their businesses scale.
Each SMB may be at different points of their journey and may not adopt technology in a linear sequential order. Some SMBs may have potential to meet the higher stages of needs before meeting the lower technology needs. Hence, it is important to frequently survey your business needs before adopting the right technology offering to stay ahead of the curve.
Kindly throw some light on challenges and how AWS’s solutions are addressing those challenges?
There are multiple ways in which AWS provides value to SMEs. AWS has more cloud services, and more features and functionality within those services, than any other cloud provider. We have continually expanded our services to support virtually any cloud workload, and have over 200 fully featured services, including compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, application development, deployment, and management.
SMEs have distinct challenges as they embark on their technology adoption and digital transformation journey, including limited technology awareness, cost and security perceptions, implementation concerns, and lack of skilled technology talent. AWS addresses these in multiple ways:
- With our growing base of channel partners, AWS offers customized initiatives such as AWS Cloud Day events, Proof of Concepts (POCs), Free Tiers and Credit Offers, and Migration Packages to ensure the customer’s journey to the cloud is smooth and stress-free.
- AWS regularly hosts customer-focused cloud awareness and events across many cities and towns. We also offer hundreds of vetted solutions from different industries and architectural guidance to rapidly solve business challenges. These solutions span cross almost all industries like retail, financial services, healthcare, gaming technology etc. and are available on AWS Solutions Library.
- We offer customers easy access to training through training modules delivered directly or through partners. AWS provides easily accessible content and use-cases for scenarios ranging from disaster recovery, storage and website on cloud through to mission-critical application migrations that customers can leverage on-demand.
- AWS has created ready-to-use and deploy migration packages for the most common migration use-cases like SAP, core server workloads, and key business applications, which can be delivered by our consulting partners. We have strong ISV partnerships to deliver industry and vertical-specific functional and business solutions.
- We enhance the customer’s ability to experiment through lowering the cost of experimentation and providing promotional credits. This helps ensure that customers can run their workloads on AWS without worrying about the cost of failure.
Amazon has recently launched a game for Boosting AWS Cloud Skills. What will be the next agenda, kindly talk about your learning platform?
As part of our effort to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people by 2025, AWS launched a new game-based 3D role-playing experience called AWS Cloud Quest: Cloud Practitioner which is designed by AWS Training and Certification, AWS Cloud Quest and aims to help adult learners gain practical AWS experience. In addition to AWS Cloud Quest, Amazon’s cloud computing arm has also released a reimagined version of its AWS Educate program worldwide which is designed for self-motivated, pre-professional learners who are not yet working in the cloud such as students and job-training participants.
Skilling is an important part of our goal and in fact, according to an AWS commissioned report by AlphaBeta, the number of Indian workers needed digital skills for their jobs is set to increase by 27.3 million by <timeframe ?>. The report further stated that 95% of workers surveyed in India acknowledged that they require more digital skills. Despite this, only 45% of employers in India have a training plan in place, which could affect their competitiveness in areas such as productivity, innovation, and employee retention.
To skill India, in October 2021, AWS launched the AWS re/Start program in India, a free skills development and job training program to prepare unemployed or underemployed individuals for careers in cloud computing. Recently, IPE Global and AISECT announced a collaboration with AWS re/Start program to help underemployed or unemployed women launch their career in cloud computing technology in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The program is unique as it taps into a new talent pool in India and helps people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to build cloud skills and launch cloud careers. This translates into a pipeline of diverse, non-traditional cloud talent to help close the skills gap
Future outlook for SMBs.
India has over 75 million+ SMBs today, forming the backbone of this country and hence need to be digitized. SMBs are key to driving India forward, and we are committed towards Jeff’s pledge of digitizing 10 million SMEs by 2025 to generate employment and are also focused on upscaling education for SMBs. Trends like smartphone adoption, internet and online banking penetration, the explosion of digital commerce, and adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications are catalysts for the acceleration of digital transformation among SMEs, and driving their IT and cloud adoption.
Adopting a cloud strategy can help SMEs accelerate technology-led innovation, enhance productivity, open up new markets, lower costs and compete for market share against bigger corporations, without large and risky investments. SMEs in India are also actively exploring data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and IoT (Internet of Things) services integration to deliver a richer and more engaging customer experience. Interactive media services, the integration of ML in tracking and analyzing customer conversations across different interactions like conversational agents and call centres, are some examples.
Kindly talk about your upcoming project.
We are always listening to customer feedback to decide which products and services we build. More than 90% of AWS services were built because of customer feedback. We are focused on providing resilient and secure cloud solutions to SMBs in India and powering India’s digital economy.