When you hear the word cloud, you likely think of a data center off in some magical place that (hopefully) has five 9s or more levels of reliability. But the reality is that the ‘cloud’ is a grouping of hardware and software that comes together to offer a solution for business customers.
During the past year, Microsoft has announced two clouds for specific industries, Retail, and Healthcare. These clouds are a package of solutions that are targeted at specific scenarios with the goal of reducing the challenges of onboarding while improving the customer experience as they adopt the technology.
This is a lot of marketing-speak for saying that this is a bundle of services that already exist and positioned under a new umbrella. But there is some merit to this as ineffective-onboarding can result in a negative customer adoption experience and sour a long-term relationship.
What I mean is that let’s say you want to adopt the “cloud” for your organization by moving your data and pipelines to Microsoft (or AWS or Google or pick your cloud). Once you have migrated, you realize that you are missing services that are either critical to your business or would enhance your operations, but they come at a big expense from the cloud vendor.- the cloud experience has been ruined.
With these industry-specific clouds, Microsoft has invested in solutions that will allow – in this case, Financial, Manufacturing, and Non Profit customers – an onboarding experience that has a set of pre-configured tools that will fit their organizational needs without (hopefully) sticker shock because it includes the necessary bundled services to run their daily operations.
Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services
Arriving in public preview by the end of March 2021, this cloud service brings together Microsoft solutions, unique templates, API’s and additional industry-specific standards, along with multi-layered security and, crucially, compliance coverage for banking customers.
The goal of this industry cloud is to help retail banks provide a robust view of their customers with unique insights to help them understand the needs and potentially the next best action for the customers. In addition, with the tools included in the cloud service, Microsoft can help streamline workflows for loans, fraud detection, and customer onboarding while remaining in compliance with strict industry regulations.
Manufacturing: Intelligent systems and agile factories
For years, we have been hearing about how IoT is changing the world of manufacturing as ML and AI is now available at the edge of computing environments. The ‘cloud’ for manufacturing is designed to help customers modernize their data infrastructure and workflows to become more resilient in a fast-changing environment while intelligently collecting data from these endpoints.
This cloud will become available in preview by the end of June of 2021.
Nonprofit: Enabling and accelerating mission-driven impact
And Nonprofits are also getting their own cloud that will likely help more than a few organizations combine their disparate systems into one cohesive platform. The goal for customers onboarding with this cloud will be to enhance constituent engagement, program design and delivery, volunteer management, and fundraising. Look for this specific cloud to go online by the end of June, 2021.
Pulling back from the marketing speak again, these clouds are going to also help Microsoft sell its services. Because it’s not easy to walk into a boardroom and say “move it to our cloud” – that’s not a compelling pitch. With these new industry-designed solutions, it will be easier for Microsoft’s sales personnel to target specific customers with solutions that are designed to check a lot of boxes when it comes to modernizing your infrastructure.
I’m not going to sit here and write that these cloud services are the be-all, end-all, solution for every company out there. Microsoft loves to package up services it has built and push them with new branding and licenses, but I do think what they are doing is a smart play and will likely help boost the adoption of their cloud services.