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Beyond IT: The integration of cloud adoption and generative AI

Image: Adobe Stock / Siarhei

Cloud adoption and generative AI have moved beyond the walls of IT and their impact can be felt across the enterprise, says Kalyan Kumar, Global Chief Technology Officer and Head of Ecosystems at HCLTech.

Generative AI can be seen as a human-algorithm symphony that relies on a deep collaboration between humans and machines. It can best be orchestrated in the cloud and is poised to have a fundamental impact on the future of work. Even in its early stages, the implications of generative AI on productivity and how humans conduct work are significant. Beyond image generation and document summarisation, the technology has the potential to reshape entire industries and affect many different facets of a business.

The evolution of cloud represents a similar, albeit older, story. Cloud started as an IT solution, spotlighting space and cost. Today, the cloud is considered the optimal business platform for innovation and crucial in delivering a business strategy. According to recently released research from HCLTech in partnership with FT Longitude, more than 90% of senior executives say the cloud has helped them to respond quickly to changing customer preferences, and 87% say they couldn’t have pivoted their business strategy in the last three years without leveraging the cloud. In addition, 85% of leaders say generative AI can only be deployed with the right cloud strategy.

However, with its potential should also come a word of caution. When the cloud evolved from an IT and infrastructure solution to the optimal business innovation platform, everyone in the enterprise began to utilise the new technology with little oversight, which accelerated challenges like shadow IT. Today, with generative AI, there is a very similar situation and a mad rush to take advantage of the world’s most talked about and exciting tech trend.

The integration of cloud adoption and generative AI is no doubt moving beyond the realm of IT, because these technologies have become a catalyst for innovation across every department in the modern enterprise. Every department must now consider the impact of cloud and generative AI, together, whether for transformation or compliance purposes.

Impact across the enterprise

Cloud is often viewed as the platform for business transformation and innovation. As such, it’s no longer confined to the IT department and the domain of the CIO. The value of the cloud touches various aspects of the enterprise, such as sales, product development, marketing, and customer service. As generative AI adoption grows via the cloud, it, too, will also be integrated across these non-IT domains.

Heavy investments in technologies like cloud and generative AI across the business have cost implications beyond IT budgets. Today, individual business unit teams are increasingly involved in managing these costs and demonstrating effective return on investment. In fact, for most enterprises, any significant technology investment is now delivered by the business, with appropriate oversight from the CFO and finance department. According to Gartner, 74% of technology purchases are funded, at least partially, by business units outside of IT, while only 26% of technology investments are funded entirely by the IT organisation.

Another exciting facet of this symphony is how generative AI and cloud will impact an organisation’s strategic decision-making — impacting the entire enterprise. Today, executive leaders have access to simulation and scenario planning. Generative AI will take this a step further and enable leaders to make all internal data accessible to these large language models, which will break down siloes across geographies and business units, creating an architecture where data is democratised. Boardrooms will have access to this and match their internal data to external data, such as economic forecasts earning reports. Patterns and never-before-seen insights will become visible and help orientate when and where to invest and launch products. This could represent a strategic game-changer as to how business decisions are made.

Looking from a more science-fiction point of view, it’s not a long stretch to imagine an AI board member contributing to technology and business decisions in the future.

Harmony is key

Organisations must commit to cross-functional collaboration, breaking down siloes and bringing in data from different functions to successfully deliver generative AI and cloud solutions at scale. 

Harmony and standardisation across different business units are needed to make this a reality. For many, this will represent a significant shake-up, which requires organisational change and workforce upskilling.

This is a daunting task, and for enterprises in traditional industries, it’s advisable to engage a technology partner with expertise in change management, deploying new technologies and ways of working.

Looking ahead: The security consideration and cultural transformation

Looking ahead, to ensure that cloud adoption and generative AI integration is carried out responsibly outside the IT department, the enterprise needs to prioritise cloud security and address the problem of AI bias. Security teams need to effectively safeguard the data training of the AI models with a holistic and zero-trust cybersecurity strategy, while the public and private sectors need to work together to remove AI bias by creating inclusive data training sets.

Ultimately, to deliver on the promise of generative AI and cloud solutions at scale across the business, the enterprise needs to embrace a cultural transformation to ensure necessary changes are correctly implemented, understood, and embraced. Above all else, this is essential in creating an adaptive environment that enables new ways of working and continuous transformation and innovation.

Kalyan Kumar
Kalyan Kumar
Global Chief Technology Officer and Head of Ecosystems at HCLTech

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