The Sky's the Limit: The Future of the Cloud in EU Public Services

With the frontiers of cloud computing expanding so quickly it is becoming ever more part of our daily lives, it’s not a question of if it will become an integral part of delivering public services, but when.

Right now, the European Commission is looking into a Cloud of Public Services that would enable the delivery of flexible public services from a wide variety of providers. This shift will give administrations the ability to capture and analyze masses of data to make sure the right services are being delivered to citizens at the right time. In principle, administrations will save money and increase scalability and agility when delivering services. For their part, citizens will benefit from a more personalized and fluid experience (imagine a world where you can upload all official documents into a single personal folder that only you and accredited parties can access).

“Data-driven decision making is the decision making of the future”

The European Union has contributed to making this a reality by adopting the European Cloud Computing Strategy (ECCS), created by the European Commission in part to promote cloud computing in the public sector. The main aim of this strategy is to create 3.8 million new jobs in EU Member States and to help the cumulative gross domestic product reach €957 billion by 2020.

These ambitious goals include initiatives such as the creation of an “Open Science Cloud” and a “European Data Infrastructure” to provide better security, access, sharing and processing of data across the EU Member States. The European Commission has even identified cloud computing standards as one of the five priority domains that need to be developed as a building block of the Digital Single Market. Data-driven decision making is the decision making of the future.

“A fivefold increase in market size by 2020”

There’s no doubt about the speed at which cloud computing is developing. Therefore, one could rightfully assume that the EU’s new initiatives are having a positive effect. Some analysts estimate that the European cloud computing market will be worth €44.8bn by 2020, signifying a fivefold increase in size since 2013.

Although the market is developing quickly, there are still considerable barriers to overcome – especially with regard to cloud implementation in the public sector.

“3 barriers: security, cost & knowledge”

One of the primary concerns about the cloud is security. In a 2018 Eurostat survey, 57% of large companies stated that security is one of the main barriers preventing full adoption of cloud technology. Due to numerous security breaches in recent years, data security weighs heavily on the minds of both consumers and companies. The good news is that data security is improving. One way is to use private cloud servers, which utilize a specific infrastructure built for an organization’s exclusive use and prevent access to third parties. However, should a public sector organization decide to use the public cloud, the hosts are becoming more sophisticated in their security measures, with entire teams dedicated to securing them. Public cloud is becoming safer every day.  

A second challenge to overcome by the public sector in particular is the perceived high cost of cloud computing. However, one of the great advantages of a wider adoption of the cloud is that, as it expands, prices will drop due to economies of scale. As more and more organizations in the EU adopt the cloud, it will move closer to reaching its full potential, which will result in lower prices across Europe. This will be especially beneficial for users in the public sector.

And finally, many organizations report that insufficient knowledge of cloud computing is hampering their adoption of this technology. Just like cost, economies of scale again play a role. As knowledge of the cloud expands, barriers to its wider adoption will fall. There is already a vast body of information available about its uses that can help organizations in both the private and public sectors build the knowledge they need.

With all of the benefits that cloud technology has to offer, we should not let fear, uncertainty or lack of knowledge “cloud” our judgment when deciding whether its adoption is right or not.

Want to know more about how Accenture can help your organization master the cloud? Feel free to contact us for a chat!

Author: Dany Delepierre