If there is one solid global takeaway from the last couple of years for businesses is to adhere to adapting a digitally fluid future. Businesses that previously hesitated to digitally transform were left without a choice. Today, it isn’t just the speed of change that has taken different industries by storm., but even the extent of change has been unexpected and transformative. 

“But why has there been such a surge in cloud adoption?”, award-winning blogger, best-selling author, lawyer, and compliance and ethics expert Thomas Fox (Tom Fox) asks on his ‘Innovation in Compliance’ podcast. Tom’s guest this week is Aspire System’s very own go-to expert on Enterprise business software strategy and implementation, and a Thought Leader in Digital Transformation, Chenthil Eswaran.

“If the pandemic hadn’t struck, who can tell how long this adoption may have taken? Some businesses have even entered new market segments”, says Chenthil.

This might be just the reason behind why ‘now’ the perfect time is to take a reality check on the impact of cloud power on business applications. Here is a look at the conversation, and you can also listen to the podcast. It makes for the perfect 15-minute break to get into work mode if we do say so ourselves. 

Tom Fox:

Why is there a greater need for a collaborative technology ecosystem that allows cloud and on-premises components to seamlessly connect with each other?

Chenthil Eswaran: Every time there’s a major technology disruption, those who lead the way are the ones who seamlessly manage the transition, and that too – without compromising on speed, efficiency, or compliance. With digital transformation currently undergoing an important phase, cloud adoption is obviously on the rise.  

In fact, studies show that cloud spending rose by 37 per cent to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020. 

But that does not mean enterprises can be fully on the cloud, which is a different ball game altogether. Today, you need a collaborative tech ecosystem that allows your on-premises systems and cloud applications to work in unison. Your legacy systems must continue being robust and secure while you achieve accelerated performance and innovative functionalities that your newer applications demand.  

That way, you get the agility to shift certain workloads to the cloud, based on evolving demands without overhauling your on-premises systems. You should be able to prepare for the future without complicating the present. 

Tom Fox:

What are the SaaS (Software as a Service) approaches? Best-in-Breed vs. All-in-One?

Chenthil Eswaran:, The best-in-breed OEM solutions are offered by vendors to address specific needs in an enterprise’s overall technology journey. The all-in-one suite of solutions offered by a single provider to modernize your enterprise in one go. Best-in-breed solutions help establish a decentralized digital transformation strategy for enterprises with multiple locations and work across time zones. 

It helps create a siloed software stack for teams like finance, HR, marketing, or procurement. Then, each function can maximize the length and breadth of its application experience. Some of its pros are access to powerful tools with niche capabilities, optimized application performance with dedicated and specialized support, and continuous upgrades/addition of new features. 

On the other side, the cons are longer, complex implementation cycles, tougher procurement efforts, and intensive staff training requirements. 

All-in-one 

The all-in-one solution suite is preferred by highly centralized enterprises still in the early stages of full technology modernization. They must be well-positioned to take a single decision regarding vendor selection to address a varying set of pain points while lowering licensing costs. With a familiar user interface for administration, they can quickly lower implementation time and simplify integration efforts. 

Some of its other pros are ease of application/data/process integration, exclusive training modules, UI familiarity, and accelerated vendor journeys with reduced risk of system disruption. On the other hand, its cons include vendor lock-in, fewer new features, and system or data vulnerability. 

Into the Future 

Tom Fox:

How, if any, has the Coronavirus health crisis over this year changed your approach?

Chenthil Eswaran: From an internal perspective, when the lockdown was announced in 2020, we were prepared – from a technology setup standpoint. So, we ended up quickly giving our employees a secure working environment and our customers all the support they required. 

However, the coronavirus health crisis changed our approach by forcing us to adapt our mindset to be more focused on remote agility, scalability, and innovation. As a company, we are now very keen on being prepared for a digitally fluid future, which may call for 100% remote working efficiency– anytime. 

Looking at it externally, Work from Home has become a norm – even for clients that were previously conservative in their digital transformation efforts. Today, unless they aggressively go digital, they will not be unable to meet the aggressive demands of their customers. It made us focus more on providing architectural flexibility to them to manage the transition from on-premises to cloud or deploy a hybrid cloud model.

Tom Fox:

How will the digital business evolve into 2025 and beyond regarding maximizing the ROI of business applications?

Chenthil Eswaran: This unprecedented acceleration towards digital transformation has meant that the ROI expectations of business applications have increased. They need to be more agile and tuned in to modern user demands – and that is where the rise of autonomous SaaS business applications comes in. 

Even though they are already helping workforce optimization, AI and ML-based applications are marking the dawn of a new era. They will streamline critical business units like HR operations, finance operations, planning and procurement, and legal teams. And help them significantly augment their decision-making capabilities by providing deep-dive data insights. This would maximize the overall application ROI while raising the quality of user experiences.

Tom Fox:

What is a hybrid cloud, and why can it be the best of both worlds?

Chenthil Eswaran: Large and mid-sized enterprises realize that the hybrid cloud is a practical way to align their technology goals with their business goals. The need for hybrid cloud infrastructure has become crucial for enterprise readiness since it delivers more architectural flexibility. It has become extremely relevant in today’s digital landscape that seems to come with an unpredictable regulatory climate. 

In that sense, it offers the best of both worlds. For instance, enterprises can complete non-sensitive operations in a public cloud environment while ensuring keeping their critical data and applications in the private cloud or on-premises environment. So, they get the best of the latter’s cost-efficiency and scalability – and the best of the former’s advanced user controls and end-point protection against data breaches. This hybrid infrastructure allows them to maintain their legacy on-premise systems while ensuring seamless cloud adoption in a way that doesn’t disrupt daily operations.  

The hybrid cloud architecture also strategically eliminates the chance of single vendor lock-ins, which puts them in a better position to future-proof their operations. 

Hence, iPaaS providers like Dell Boomi, which allows both on-premise and cloud deployment, will emerge as game-changers for these enterprises. 

Tom Fox:

How has WFH challenged cybersecurity?

Chenthil Eswaran: Early last year, every IT staff’s imperative seemed to be connected to the COVID-19 situation. From keeping legacy systems on talking terms with cloud applications to assisting employees with bridging work-from-home (WFH) connectivity gaps. Now, with enterprises having learned the hard way, cybersecurity has emerged as one of the biggest tasks for IT teams.

Cybersecurity will run into smarter problems because AI is becoming a part of the quintessential hacker toolkit. Given the change in tides brought by work-from-home policies, the decentralization of security controls will take prominence. It will help enterprises keep remote issues under control and evolve data governance policies to ensure automating breach notifications. 

What’s Next?

Chenthil is of the opinion that compliance officers and executives need to think about keeping up with the change and adopt a fluid adaptation approach as digital businesses evolve in the coming years. “They need to be more agile and tuned in to modern user demands,” Chenthil says. “Autonomous business applications will play a big part in this as well, as this will be the future. The decentralization of security controls will take prominence, and it will help enterprises keep remote issues undercurrent,” Chenthil tells Tom. You can always read up on more of Chenthil’s thought leadership at Aspire Systems via his blog, or dig into the archives.

Chhavianshika Singh