Europe wants to know – What do cloud companies stand for? – Chapter 5: A cloud company has to stand for more than technology

Europe wants to know – What do cloud companies stand for? – Chapter 5: A cloud company has to stand for more than technology

The times are turbulent. Just as Europe and the rest of the world appear at last to be emerging from an historic pandemic, new storm clouds have suddenly appeared. Europe is embroiled in its first full-on land war since 1945. Inflation is soaring. Economic growth in the Euro zone, after a strong start in the early months of 2022, may now be slowing down. The continent’s most-watched stock indexes, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40, are both off more than 10% for the year, while America’s tech-heavy NASDAQ is off nearly 20%.

And yet, amidst the gloom, there is at least one unambiguous sign of optimism: the race to digitize the world’s economy continues without letup. The best indicator of the remarkable pace of digitization is the growth of the cloud. The growth numbers reported by the world’s three largest cloud providers for the year’s first quarter speak for themselves: Microsoft’s cloud revenues grew 46%, Google’s grew 44%, and Amazon’s grew 36%. It seems that the world does not yet have enough of cloud. And not just the world, but Europe in particular. IDC in mid-April adjusted upward its forecast for European IT spending growth in 2022 to 6%, even after accounting for the impact of the war in Ukraine. The biggest component of that growth is the cloud, as suggested by a KPMG prediction that spending on cloud services in Europe will reach €300 to €500 billion by 2027.

What is driving the wave of digitization of business processes and everyday experience that is sweeping through the world’s economies and in particular those of Europe? Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently offered a succinct explanation:

“The last two years have proven that every organization needs a digital fabric that connects the entire organization, from the boardroom to the frontline, to customers and partners. We are entering a new era where every company will become a digital company.”

But companies and countries that pursue digital transformation do not see it as a purely technological process. When they turn to cloud providers for help they expect more than access to the advanced software and highly efficient hardware that makes up the cloud. This is especially so today when the cloud industry has become so critical to the economic growth and daily life of every region of the world. When an industry acquires such ubiquitous presence in in the lives of nations, it also acquires certain civic duties that it must fulfil if it is to retain the trust of its customers.

What are those civic duties? The following short list of basic principles may provide a good starting point. In our view, a modern cloud provider that is responsive and responsible to the communities it serves should:

  • Defend to the best of its ability the world’s shared digital ecosystem from attacks by state-sponsored hackers and criminal gangs
  • Respect the digital sovereignty of nations and the privacy of citizens
  • Help every region and organization achieve equitable and inclusive economic growth
  • Contribute to building a sustainable future for the planet