KARACHI: Most companies today recognise that cloud computing is a technology game changer. According to a recent survey of global executives titled “The Power of Cloud: Driving Business Model Innovation”, conducted by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit, a growing number are also beginning to realise how powerfully the cloud can propel business innovation.
Increasingly, leading companies are turning to cloud computing to shift the competitive stakes in their favour. They are crafting new ways of weaving cloud computing throughout their organisations to transform internal operations, re-imagine product and service development, and reshape customer relations.
The cloud’s acceptance is now cemented within IT circles. Nearly half of all respondents of another recent IBM survey of Chief Information Officers say they evaluate cloud options first, over traditional IT approaches, when it comes to making new investments in technology. And it is not just large companies that are moving to the cloud. Around 67% of the smaller companies surveyed have also adopted it.
Yet, as mainstream as the cloud has become, most companies still consider it a priority for their IT departments – not for their overall business. Only 16% of the executives surveyed use the cloud for broad innovation, such as entering new lines of business or industries, or reshaping an existing industry.
The key is using the basic attributes of cloud computing not simply to tackle technology challenges, but fundamental business issues as well. Positive aspects of cloud computing include the following:
Shifting hardware and software costs from a fixed to a pay-as-you-go cost structure turns capital expenses into operational expenses, giving companies access to tools and computing power that may have been too expensive or time consuming to roll out in the past. When it comes to rethinking business processes, companies are using cloud-based capabilities to analyse customer data in a more cost-effective way and to provide more personalised marketing campaigns and products and services.
Ability to adapt to new markets
The ability to respond to rapidly-changing customer needs is a key competitive differentiator today. A third of the executives surveyed believe the cloud can help with this. By helping businesses rapidly adapt processes, products, and services to meet the changing needs of the market, the cloud can enable faster prototyping and innovation and speed up how quickly companies can get new offerings in front of customers.
Connections to ecosystems
Cloud computing is custom-made for helping organisations spur connectivity between customers, partners, and employees. Cloud-based platforms can bring together far-flung, broad groups of people who can collaborate and share resources, information and processes. The cloud makes it easier for companies to collaborate with partners and customers, spurring productivity and innovation.
In just a few years, cloud computing has gone from being an experimental technology to one that is essential to the workings of many companies. But in reality, companies have only just begun to grasp the true benefits of the cloud. The ones that understand how profoundly the cloud can shape how business gets done are well on the way to getting a head-start on competitors and transforming their industries.
THE WRITER IS TERRITORY MANAGER FOR IBM PAKISTAN
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.