A new study by World Wide Worx, in partnership with F5, Dell Technologies, Digicloud Africa and Intel, has revealed how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed cloud computing to the front of decision-makers minds.
The comprehensive 'Cloud in Africa 2020' report maps out latest cloud trends across the continent, drawing information from decision-makers at over 400 medium-sized and large businesses across South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi.
Some 91% of respondents described cloud computing as important in helping with business’ response to the crisis, with 91% and 82% of those surveyed reporting that the technology platform is used primarily for disaster recovery and remote working respectively, followed by customer service activities (52%).
Further, 80% of the respondents believe that cloud computing has made a significant contribution to governments’ efforts in dealing with the pandemic.
The most common uses by governments were remote working at 69%, public communications at 55% and crisis coordination at 50%, the report shows.
“During this time, historic perceptions of cloud being costly and risky have also largely dissipated,” said World Wide Worx MD and lead analyst on the project Arthur Goldstuck, noting that as many as 84% of respondents now believe cloud computing is cost-effective and only 12% regard it as inherently risky.
“Covid-19 has clearly catalysed decision-makers’ receptivity to the cloud in recent months, but a significant momentum was already building across Africa,” he continued.
The 'Cloud in Africa 2020' report shows that 38% of decision-makers increased their cloud services spend last year and over 60% plan to increase their spend next year.
In South Africa, 82% of the respondents said that they had increased cloud spend, followed by 59% in Zimbabwe, and 50% in both Nigeria and Botswana.
In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, 71%, 59% and 56%, respectively, of the respondents said that between a quarter and half of their information technology (IT) budgets are allocated to the cloud.
“In Namibia, 65% said more than half of IT budgets were focused on cloud. In Botswana, 14% reported that 100% of budgets went to cloud-related IT,” Goldstuck highlighted.
However, in South Africa, which is the region’s most mature cloud market, 45% of decision-makers indicated that cloud accounted for less than a quarter of IT budgets, while 34% said it was between a quarter-and-half and 11% put it above three-quarters.
Almost two-thirds of all respondents are set to increase investments in cloud services in 2021, with 36% expecting investments to remain at current levels and 1% anticipating a decrease in spend.
"Significantly, more than half of all respondents estimate that over a quarter of applications will have moved to the cloud by the end of this year,” Goldstuck pointed out.
“While there are some regional variations in strategic benefits, 40% of respondents believe that cloud computing has had a direct, positive impact on market share in the past two years,” he added.
More than 60% of those surveyed cite business efficiency as the single biggest benefit, followed by agility and operational flexibility (53%) and improved customer service (45%).
Thirty-seven per cent said that improved time-to-market was also an important outcome.
“Cloud computing also emerged as a powerful platform for intangible elements of organisations’ internal strategy. Almost two-thirds reported an improvement in cross-organisation innovation owing to the cloud. Over half also experienced noticeable brand perception improvements,” he noted.
However, the potential for a data breach remained the biggest concern for 63% of respondents.
“The main, and closely related, multi-cloud challenge in Africa is the need to apply consistent security policies across all applications and their locations.”
Nevertheless, as many as 50% claim to be addressing the issue by building cloud security strategies on a per-application basis.