Business Interview: ‘Cloud-based solutions help businesses scale, cut costs’
Necip Ozyucel is Cloud & Enterprise Group Lead at Microsoft Gulf. In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Ozyucel spoke on how cloud-based solutions can help entrepreneurs and small-scale businesses in Oman. He said the biggest advantage of using cloud-based solutions is that the businesses can not only save money but also gain the ability to scale up or scale down operations as per the requirement.
Microsoft has been one of the leading and important players in artificial intelligence (AI) segment. Can you explain how AI is going to help countries like Oman where the advantage of economies of scale is not much to justify higher expenditures in IT and IT-enabled services?
When we say artificial intelligence, we are basically talking about the implementation of cloud solutions to save on costs. It could be for different levels of organisations or premises such as public cloud, because it all depend on our customers’ need in terms of their applications, data or their internal processes.
Our technologies are helping customers to keep some of their application data on their premises and some of them on Microsoft data centre and some of them on Microsoft partners. And then we provide seamless experience when they, for example, use an application whose one part is inside their premise and other one is on Microsoft cloud. It is a seamless view for our customers and this is called ‘Hybrid Cloud’.
When it comes to public clouds, we have 54 regions worldwide and in each region we have two geographical dispersed areas. And in each such area, we have 16 data centres. We have over 100 data centres and own network. So all it is based on economies of scale.
Who could be the potential beneficiaries of Microsoft’s cloud-based or AI solutions?
If we talk about computation and storage, there are limitless opportunities available. You can think of any company in Oman, be it a large government-owned company, a small private firm or even a startup, they all can use cloud-based solutions to expand their business without worrying much about the IT resources. So, if you have a business idea, then there is no need for investing in IT infrastructure. You can start immediately as any kind of business can be run using Microsoft data centre.
Are these solutions available only for large corporates, or small players and startups could also get a helping hand from you?
Let me explain our journey in this business. Our customers generally start employing Microsoft data centre or other cloud-based solution with the customer facing applications such as websites and chat-boxes. Those applications are already open to everyone worldwide. In such applications there is nothing to hide, almost there is no security issue, and everything is open to all people across the world. So, most clients start their journey with websites, chat-boxes, business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumers (B2C) type of
applications. We understand their needs, they can also scale down or scale up their operations depending on requirements and we also understand the seasonality of businesses, which is very important for the clients.
So, cloud gives these clients more scale in business while taking care of their security needs. So once they become confident, they move their test and development activities and back up operations to cloud-based solutions. And once they feel safe about it, they tend to move their production infrastructure to us, such as ERP and core-banking. And once these steps are done, people start using advance technologies such AI, Internet-of-Things and blockchains for improving productivity and profitability. One thing true about them (businesses) is that it is impossible to do all things inside their premises.
Many small businesses witness ups and downs in operations, which means demand shoots up on certain occasions or it falls drastically during lean periods, how Microsoft solutions can be helpful in such situations?
For some businesses seasonality is very important and here the assistance from cloud solutions could be very helpful. There are some days when some of our clients experience higher customer turnout. It could be Eid holidays, year-end or any other particular event or holidays depending on a country’s schedule. So in such sudden rise of business activities, companies need to invest heavily in their IT infrastructure to scale up the business. However, cloud solutions give such businesses an opportunity to adjust the scale of business as per their requirements.
Microsoft is known for its latest and cutting edge technology solutions and products, but how will small businesses and startups in Oman could be benefited from it?
For small and medium businesses, the most important thing our solutions do is lowering the cost of operations.
The cost of operations is sometimes the biggest barrier in entering any business. There is no need to make any investment in IT infrastructure. They (small and medium business owners) can start their operations immediately on Microsoft clouds. There is no need to purchase hardware or software and wait for them to be shipped to their location and then employing a specialist to configure them according to your need. We provide everything on ready-to-use basis. They can simply start using them from day one. Moreover, Microsoft cloud solutions also give them the option of scaling down and scaling up operations based on their needs. Besides the usage of new cutting edge technology offered by us, it also provides them an edge over peers.
How are you planning to tackle the marketing challenges, because most of these small-scale players are not aware about these solutions particularly when a large number of them really don’t have an IT background?
Learning is the only solution to this problem because even in case of very advanced customers it is not easy to catch up with cloud as we are adding new features to it on a daily basis. We have a portal called Microsoft Cloud Society dedicated to Middle East and North Africa region. Everything available on this portal is free and is very easy to learn. There are number of courses related to cloud-based technology solutions and anyone can visit this portal and start learning about new solutions.