The promise of cloud-based solutions is that innovation and scale are democratized. What does that mean? It should mean that anybody with a good idea can compete with even the largest, most established companies in their industry—on a level playing field.

Accessing the cloud doesn’t take a lot of capital. That’s the point of cloud. A startup with a disruptive idea will pay pretty much the same cost to serve a customer as the largest company in their industry.

This brings the platform economy to life. Scaling a successful disruptive startup is as simple as finding a cloud solution and combining the cloud’s different capabilities in new and interesting ways.

Accenture’s role is to help those companies with good ideas leverage the cloud to enhance their businesses and outmaneuver uncertainty.

The cloud is so powerful and adaptable it’s sometimes hard to grasp the full extent of its possibilities.

Let’s use a mine as an example to illustrate different advantages of the cloud:

  • The Internet of Things. Mines can equip miners with air quality sensors. This will give individual miners a reading for the air quality where they are. But because the sensors are all networked together, they can also give mine management a clear idea of the air quality across all the shafts.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Drones are being used in mining to survey sites much faster and more accurately than ground-based surveys. Using AI, the data that the drones collect can help companies plan vehicle traffic around the site, and even flag parts of the site that are out of compliance with safety regulations.
  • Big Data. By analysing the data that is collected across the mine, from the miners themselves to the equipment they use, mining companies can make mines safer, lower costs by predicting expensive and potentially dangerous equipment failures, and increase yield.
  • Platforms. Startups that turn these ideas into offerings can approach their mining customers with these cloud-enabled solutions. The entrepreneurs use the cloud as a platform to roll out industry-specific solutions that can be commercialized quickly and served to customers at an unprecedented low cost. Then, when the idea takes off, they can scale rapidly and relatively inexpensively to meet the demand.

Thanks to the cloud and the platform economy, entrepreneurs are free to imagine innovative solutions, knowing that that the technology is largely taken care of.

When I look at Accenture’s research, time and time again we see opportunities to unlock billions of dollars in almost any industry and almost any country. My colleague Rory Moore has written about the four technology approaches that could unlock over R200-billion in the SA mining industry. 

Usually this ability is limited to large companies. But the point of the cloud is that mid-sized and even small companies can use platforms enabled by the cloud to punch above their weight and disrupt entire industries.

Accenture partners with many different vendors, suppliers and companies around the world. One of our more recent partnerships is with Vodacom, here in South Africa. The idea is to bring cloud solutions to small and medium enterprises.

Lots of these businesses already use Vodacom as their telecommunications platform, running voice over IP, data, VPNs and collaboration tools using the Vodacom infrastructure.

And lots of large corporations use Accenture to help them plan and execute their journey to the cloud, so that they can reap the many benefits of the platform economy.

For smaller businesses, our partnership means entrepreneurs with good ideas can commercialize those ideas using both the platform and the know-how available to corporate South Africa.

If you want to see how technology has the ability to shape a really physical industry such as mining, please click here, and if you would like to read about the potential of the platform economy to disrupt the financial services sector, click here.

Can you see your company disrupting your industry by moving to a cloud-enabled platform? Is the fact that the cloud is now more accessible than ever, an exciting development for you? Please let me know in the comments, or email me at kirtan.sita@accenture.com