Google Cloud

New use cases, next-gen data analytics and sustainability

21 December 2020 | Pip White


Pip White

Blog Author | Guest contributor


Pip White, MD for Google Cloud UK and Ireland, writes on the necessity of cloud technology, preventing vendor lock in, and what could be in store for the space in 2021

The year 2020 has certainly been a big year for the cloud. The Covid-19 pandemic has validated the value of cloud-based technologies for many business leaders and we expect to see adoption continue to accelerate into 2021 as a result. In fact, Gartner has predicted that public cloud spending will grow a further 18% next year.

So, where is the technology headed in 2021? Let’s look into our crystal ball to see what lies ahead.

The cloud will be seen in a new light

It’s already happening. The cloud is becoming less of an IT consideration and more of a must-have to support evolving working practices. It will continue to play a key role in opening up new opportunities with innovative operating models.

The growth of remote working, prompted by the pandemic, has led to a dramatic acceleration in digital transformation for many. Next year, cloud migration will be driven more and more by the need to keep up with this rapid pace of change. With advancing artificial intelligence (AI), more and more labour-intensive jobs can become automated, leaving employees to focus on higher value and more engaging tasks.

New ways of working will continue to emerge in 2021, as will new ways to create, collaborate and innovate.

Expect to see a more “open” cloud.

Forward-thinking businesses now understand the importance of remaining agile, responsive and, above all, resilient. After all, who knows what unexpected challenge the world might throw at us next?

This will lead more and more organisations to choose an “open” cloud approach to prevent vendor lock-in and open up exciting new opportunities.  Customer expectations are now higher than ever across the board and, as businesses adapt to the new normal, a more “open” cloud will enable businesses to deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Positive employee experiences will also become a priority. The employment market will continue to open up as the increasing trend for remote and hybrid working will make your best employees an attractive option for competitors all over the world.

Not surprisingly after 2020, there will be pressure to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies. As the “open” cloud increases in popularity with the widespread need for innovation, there will be huge demand for container and serverless functions. 

Expect to see plenty of new use cases

The disruption caused by Covid-19 has compelled many organisations to quickly reassess their digital needs. While it may have felt like an uncomfortable experience at the time, being forced to speed up their digital transformation will have given businesses that moved with the times an important competitive edge. 

It will also lead to some industry sectors embracing cloud solutions for the very first time. That cultural change is already happening in industries like insurance where companies are beginning to appreciate the cloud’s AI capability to create real-time risk models.

We’re also seeing an increase in cloud-based contact centres in the retail sector, populated by call agents working remotely and using chatbots to deliver enhanced and more personalised customer support.

Sustainability will be even more important

We’ve seen in the last few years how sustainable practices are playing an increasingly important role in key business decisions. Expect that way of thinking to pick up even more momentum in 2021. With increasing awareness of climate change and the problems of widespread pollution, organisations will find themselves under growing pressure to get with the programme from customers, business partners and shareholders alike.

Carbon neutral pledges will become the norm, and businesses will be judged on whether they ‘walk the walk’ not just ‘talk the talk’. To give you an example, Google Cloud has just committed to using 100% carbon-free energy across the globe within the next decade.

New strategic partnerships will emerge as cloud providers increasingly work with end-user companies for sustainability reasons. Google Cloud recently joined up with the WWF, alongside Stella McCartney, to improve its data analytics and machine learning (ML) capabilities to give them new insight into the impact of their supply chain.

The next stage in the data revolution

In 2021, AI and ML will be seen less and less as symbols of advanced innovation and will start to be perceived more as everyday business tools by companies in all sectors.

These technologies will enable more meaningful insights to be extracted from the ever-growing data sets. Banking is one industry that has increased AI investment to deliver personalisation and financial forecasting. Even industries that are not already using AI or ML will start to experiment with technology to create personalised and more engaging experiences.