“The cloud” once represented a complex development in the history of Internet technology – it confused those used to traditional infrastructures and left skeptics in the dark about its true potential. Today, cloud computing is becoming the next big step in an organization’s journey to greater productivity, agility, and innovation, among other benefits. In fact, due to the pandemic, it is inevitable that a portion of almost every company’s network will be moved to the cloud to future-proof their business model.
As the world’s most comprehensive and widely adopted cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) commissioned global strategic consulting firm Public First to produce a report on AWS’ impact on the Canadian economy. The findings not only provide insight into how cloud has impacted businesses on a superficial level, but also how broader cloud adoption can significantly improve the country’s economic health. For example, the report found that AWS generated approximately $8.5 billion in economic value for Canada in 2021, supporting 380,000 businesses. By 2030, it is estimated that greater use and uptake of cloud computing could help increase GDP by an additional 1.7%, or the equivalent of over $40 billion.
And it’s not something that just takes advantage of a niche of businesses. “There is so much evidence of the impact of cloud computing across all industries,” said Eric Gales, AWS country manager. “The question about why a company could use the cloud is over – today companies are asking how and if they can use it.”
As digitally native brands grew during the pandemic, AWS supported their resilience in a variety of ways. Businesses already using the cloud have been able to scale and meet the needs of e-commerce and remote work. For the Canadian government, AWS helped customers quickly build digital solutions for everything from tracking the spread of COVID-19 to launching cloud-based call centers that can help people apply for the Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program .
As the benefits of cloud computing become well known, it should come as no surprise that many of Canada’s unicorns (startups valued at more than $1 billion) are running on AWS. Including Calgary’s Neo Financial.
Neo Financial combines digital banking with a network of rewards offerings tailored to individual spending patterns. Although Neo is a relatively new company, having only been founded in 2019, it has quickly become one of Canada’s leading financial services companies. “We’ve always believed that we can add value to the lives of our customers and the Canadian financial landscape through the use of data, machine learning and analytics,” said Kris Read, co-founder and CTO of Neo Financial. The company started with AWS data lakes and analytics from the ground up and was able to use this tool to help customers with budgeting, mortgage payments, and financial planning.
With more than a million customers, Neo has a lot of information to organize – when it comes to securely storing financial data, the company considers AWS’s Quantum Ledger Database to be the most robust and modern solution. “Tools like these have given us the flexibility to develop new products and solutions faster,” says Read.
Among the 58% of companies that use AWS and have grown over the past three years (compared to just 39% of companies that had not invested in cloud), Neo Financial has used cloud computing tools from AWS to to scale its infrastructure and services alongside brand nationwide development. “When adopting AWS, it was important for us to know that our technology could infinitely scale as Neo grew,” says Read. “We have been able to scale our processing systems to serve more than a million open Neo accounts and process every transaction in real time.”
Beyond the world of fintech, AWS has also made a major impact in the areas of innovation and sustainability. Green digital thermostat company Mysa, founded with a clear mission to fight climate change through energy efficiency, joined AWS’s Activate for Startups program when it was founded in 2016. Today, the company is among 74% of Canadian companies that said using cloud services helps them reduce the environmental impact of their computers. “We place a high value on our own sustainability, so any technology we adopt needs to fit into that mold,” says Peter Woodman, Mysa’s director of software development and new products. “AWS has allowed us to streamline our digital infrastructure without dedicated servers, which is easily scalable and incredibly energy efficient.”
Peter also claims one of the most appealing parts of AWS early on was the financial backing for startups. “Access to free services through their Activate for Startups program and a generous free tier of service allowed us to save a lot of money at a very important time in the company’s development.” As reported by 84% of AWS users, by To save money by using the cloud, Mysa was able to focus on expanding its innovative offering with new products and services. “Our innovation strategy is to always stay aligned with how we see the future of energy,” says Woodman. “Of course, there is a major tech push to alleviate the climate crisis – this is where we have stepped up our innovation efforts by offering an energy-saving and carbon-reducing product that is easy for anyone to use.”
As the cloud computing phenomenon sort of scales and the technology is demystified, Canadian businesses can agree that AWS is an integral part of business growth. And in areas that span productivity, innovation, agility and even sustainability, Canada’s seasoned companies, along with the country’s booming startup ecosystem, have the tools to maximize impact.
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