The world is moving into a world where multi-modal devices dominate. You work on a document on your Macbook Air, then proof-reads and edit on your Ipad and then touch it up on your phone, store it on Evernote and save a copy on Dropbox. The backbone of this: Cloud Computing. Shiva elaborates on the opportunities. Tan Yinglan

The cloud is a huge term now and has lots of different meanings. This article attempts to simplify it for entrepreneurs in Asia and outline some top opportunities for Entrepreneurs to go after. So, what is the “cloud”? Put very simply “it is infrastructure for computing provided as a utility on a shared basis over a network like the internet” as against setting it up on your own. There are “private”, “public” and “hybrid” cloud solutions. Private clouds are custom built for a private set of enterprises or just one enterprise. A public cloud solution is one where a customer would share infrastructure with others. A hybrid cloud is a mixture of public and private clouds. Typically, the move to the cloud comes with cost savings for a lot of businesses who don’t have to deal with incurring capital expenditure to have IT staff and servers/network infrastructure/power to manage all the computing in-house. So what are the opportunities for Asian entrepreneurs in the cloud?

  1. Rural: Many rural areas in big countries in India/China and other parts of Southeast Asia have little or no computer penetration. Here farmers, villagers and people traveling into these areas need access to computing resources ranging from basic services like email, weather esp. that affects crops to entertainment. This is a huge and untapped opportunity given that it is a vast market and virtually no install base for existing client/desktop players like Microsoft/IBM to compete with.
  2. Customized vertical industry SME solutions: Most small to medium businesses have their own quirks. Larger cloud players like salesforce.com and Google offer a horizontal solution. Entrepreneurs who can take their base platform and customize it to a large enough niche small to medium industry solution will find a pot of gold! An example of this is the auto ancillary industry in India or the small to medium plastics toy manufacturers in China.
  3. Government Cloud: Governments across the world are looking for ways to improve their fiscal deficit and cut costs. Many federal, state and local governments would be looking for cheaper ways to provide services to their citizens and reduce their cost and improve manageability of IT. The entrepreneur who can tackle this market for governments is going to laugh his/her way to the bank.
  4. Education Cloud: Asian countries have the most number of younger people ranging from kinder gardeners to college goers. Currently, all of their educational content is delivered in a non-digitized format with some use of desktop/laptop computers. There is vast educational content yet to be digitized and some of which that is already digitized, yet to be delivered efficiently. Start-ups that will focus on delivering educational content in a cloud based fashion will uncover new and more efficient business models that can revolutionize education itself.
  5. Cloud Training: Many leading industry analysts are predicting that Asian countries will have many cloud based jobs. China and India alone will have 6.75 Million Cloud driven jobs according to an IDC forecast. There is a need to train all of the personnel who are in these jobs to be employable and skilled. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs focussed on training businesses.
  6. Mobile access to legacy data: With Nokia, Samsung and Apple releasing better, smarter and cheaper smartphones and tablet devices, there will be a need for mobile access to legacy data that is within the enterprise firewall or for mobile users. Any entrepreneur who can develop a repeatable and scalable component factory that can mine legacy data and quickly generate high quality user interface access via iPhones, ipad and other mobile devices, will have a winning edge.
  7. Cloud application deployment over multiple geographies, application stacks and delivery methods: There are varieties of cloud applications – private, public and hybrid clouds. When enterprises have a combination of these solutions, they would need a management solution to oversee and monitor all of these deployments across different geographies, application stacks and delivery methods, not to mention the variety of vendors they will have to deal with. This is a huge opportunity for the right entrepreneur.
  8. Visibility: The basic premise for cloud is ease of use and cost savings. Monitoring this becomes complex and would need frequent justification for increased spend on cloud versus existing methods of IT. A solution that measures return on investment on cloud technology and helps justify it financially and in other ways will be a market winner especially for complex cloud deployments.
  9. Integration: What good is any cloud solution if it doesn’t integrate with existing applications and legacy data? Cloud computing will generate lots of opportunities for systems integrators who can integrate cloud solutions to existing application deployments as well as for independent software vendors who can provide cloud based integration APIs.
  10. Business re-engineering to a cloud-based business model: Some companies like Google and Amazon are built on a scalable cloud based business model. What this means is that the business scales with the cloud technology infrastructure; hence for these companies it is not just a technology play. Many technology companies can be re-architected to have a business model that is cloud-based and is more efficient for scaling. A good example of this is a Telecommunications provider, who offers mobile, telephony, internet and other telecom services. Entrepreneurs who understand this and can re-architect their business using the cloud as a foundation will reap huge benefits.

Hopefully, the above ideas will help your creative juices in formulating your next big cloud business idea.
Shiva Venkatraman
Disclosure:
Shiva Venkatraman is a guest editor for chinnovate.com has over 20 years of software and knowledge process outsourcing experience across India, China, Singapore, S. Africa, Ireland, and Canada.  The author serves on the executive team of Siloon Software (http://www.siloon.com) and as a strategic consultant to Brainleague, an Intellectual Property Portfolio Management Firm (http://www.brainleague.com) and lives in India.

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