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Cloud-based digital transformation in a pandemic-disrupted world

Why SaaS, platforms and other cloud solutions are the new-normal tools to help firms thrive

The use of cloud-based systems has become increasingly popular with businesses over recent years, across multiple industries. But the global pandemic has accelerated this process in a way few business leaders could have imagined.

With a sudden switch to remote working, the cloud has a become a vital way for firms to share projects and data in real time between numerous employees across multiple locations. And while spending on most IT services declined sharply in the first quarter of the year, the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that investment in public cloud services increased by 6.4%. For the full year, IDC expects expenditure on cloud IT infrastructure to surpass all non-cloud infrastructure investment.

Those firms that are further along in their digital transformation are already moving towards a cloud-only strategy. They are closing down their data centers and implementing a cloud-first or SaaS (software-as-a-service) first strategy. According to new research by Gartner, the SaaS sector is expected to grow to $104.7 billion in 2020.

Cloud is now mainstream, and businesses are increasingly using it for their core work functions, such as product lifecycle management (PLM) and computer-aided design (CAD). On-premise software in these fields is much more difficult to upgrade, with manufacturers often using different versions to their partners or even colleagues. This makes it more difficult to easily share data and collaborate on new projects.

Moving to a shared cloud-based platform solves these problems, creating a single connected ecosystem from which all stakeholders can work, whenever and wherever. This means designers, manufacturers, sales & marketing teams and even customers can easily access a product during each stage of its development, encouraging greater collaboration and innovation.

They are scalable, too, with new users added on demand, or services expanded to meet project needs. This helps speed up a product or service’s time to market, increasing a firm’s competitiveness and profitability. Because SaaS is kept up to date by its vendors, firms don’t have to heavily invest in on-premise system updates – something that is particularly difficult in the current climate.

Dassault Systèmes and the cloud

With a firm belief in the power of digital transformation (DX) and the cloud, Dassault Systèmes has moved all 12 brands in its software portfolio onto a single cloud platform – the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The subscription system provides software tools for every department, enabling seamless PLM collaboration. With industry-specific applications, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides a comprehensive suite of solutions for design & engineering, manufacturing & production, simulation and governance & lifecyle.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform has an intuitive interface, available anywhere, anytime on PCs, tablets and mobile phones. It also features the latest versions of innovative applications such as 3D Printing, Function Driven Generation Design and xDesign.

Challenges to cloud-based digital transformation

While cloud solutions have helped many firms quickly adjust to new ways of working in recent months, others are still unsure if the benefits outweigh downsides. Will having to migrate data to new systems just entail more disruption?

Implementing a DX and cloud strategy is certainly not just a technological change – it requires organizational transformation, too. It should be accompanied by new internal structures and ways of working. Staff and partner companies must be encouraged to embrace the new technology and really use it to collaborate. And new KPIs need to be set to measure the success of DX investments. However, with these initiatives in place, the right cloud-based solutions can transform a company, one that is more efficient, more creative, and more resilient both during and after the pandemic.

As Carla Arend, IDC senior program director, Cloud in Europe, says: “Organizations are realizing that cloud services are not just a modernization strategy but also a good fit for unprecedented uncertain [times].”

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