By now, most organizations have begun moving key workloads and applications to the cloud, leading cloud services providers to shift focus from generalized offerings that work for most businesses to vertical offerings tailored to the specific needs of businesses within a single industry. The industry cloud, as this approach is known, is not new. In fact, analysts from Allied Market Research predict that the market for these industry cloud solutions and platforms will exceed $350 billion by 2031.
But, recent advancements have made it more powerful and practical. Today’s industry clouds are capable of handling the very specific demands of highly regulated industries like financial services, manufacturing and healthcare. They can also accommodate advanced digital capabilities like analytics and AI-powered algorithms to improve monitoring, observability and operability.
By converging industry-specific applications with the technical capabilities of the cloud, the industry cloud enables IT teams to deploy and manage specialized software, helping ensure it aligns with business goals. It also empowers business leaders with a deeper understanding of the technology, as well as its potential impacts and opportunities—insights that are critical to ensuring successful digital transformations.
Understanding The Industry Cloud
In effect, industry cloud platforms turn cloud platforms into business platforms. They do this by taking a tailored data model with customer profiles, order history or inventory levels and overlaying security guardrails specific to an industry, enabling clients to deliver value against specific business outcomes while maintaining data integrity. For example, security guardrails such as role-based access control (RBAC) policies, multifactor authentication (MFA) and 256-bit encryption as part of the industry cloud platform can help a healthcare organization handle and store patient records in compliance with the payment card industry (PCI) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
Traditional cloud services have not been designed with these kinds of regulations in mind, leaving businesses in sectors like finance services, healthcare and manufacturing to build their own solutions and find ways to ensure compliance. This can be costly and risky, and it has discouraged businesses in highly regulated industries from embracing the cloud.
The industry cloud helps reduce those risks and encourages greater cloud adoption by providing services specifically designed to meet regulations and accommodate new features such as advanced data processing or compatibility with AI and machine learning. By addressing the security concerns of the banking and financial services sector, for example, the industry cloud allows businesses to use more cloud applications more confidently, unlocking new opportunities for digital transformation.
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Although the industry cloud provides prebuilt offerings specific to a given industry, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. These offerings serve as composable building blocks for further innovation. Businesses use them to quickly develop core capabilities that are standard throughout the industry, freeing time and resources that can be reinvested to develop business-specific solutions.
A large healthcare provider, for example, might use prepackaged industry cloud services to get the capabilities it needs to safely and securely transfer medical information, paving the way for more efficient communication and record management across all its locations. Meanwhile, a small clinic might use the same prepackaged services to enable it to develop a more intuitive patient portal.
An Innovation Ecosystem
The industry cloud also creates greater opportunities for connectivity and collaboration, encouraging enterprises to work together while sharing applications and services to refine solutions or create entirely new ones. Standardized offerings mean enterprises are more likely to be operating at similar levels: compliant with regulations, capable of integrating new technologies and free to explore new solutions to their own unique business challenges. As they start developing their own applications through the industry cloud, they can monetize those applications or share them with other businesses to expand their capabilities.
Cloud services providers can also build on these offerings, identifying industry trends and developing new services to deliver greater value. In this way, an industry cloud ecosystem can accelerate innovation not just for a single business but for an entire industry.
In today’s digital economy, a strong cloud strategy is critical to making the most of advanced data processing, AI and other powerful technologies. With verticalized offerings and greater alignment of business and technology goals, the industry cloud is helping even the most risk-averse businesses in highly regulated industries have the assurance they need to embrace the cloud and become cloud-native enterprises.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com