The use of cloud in the enterprise continues to grow. Eighty-four percent of businesses surveyed in the new Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ 2016 State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud report said their cloud use has increased in the past year, and half of enterprises say they will use cloud for at least 75% of their workloads by 2018.
Cloud is also being used to support more mission critical workloads. Eighty-seven percent of enterprises use cloud for mission critical workloads, according to the new report, up from 60% cited in Verizon’s first report.
Use of cloud is so common now, in fact, that some experts say it’s no longer the competitive differentiator it once was. Only 16% of businesses surveyed for the Verizon report said that being “in the cloud” now gives their company a significant advantage over competitors, down from 30% a year ago.
According to the report, cloud “still has a major role to play in delivering competitive advantage, but using cloud is now just table stakes.”
A reengineering tool
The cloud may be table stakes today, but that doesn’t mean it has to be. Smart companies are figuring out how to leverage the cloud to re-engineer business processes and fast-track new products or services.
Ryan Shuttleworth, cloud chief technology officer for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said “Companies are using cloud technologies to create new customer experiences, reengineer their business processes, find new opportunities to grow and manage risk and compliance measures.”
Dave Bartoletti, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, agreed. “The cloud is about much more than a place to get cheap servers,” said Bartoletti. “It’s a place to turn great ideas into products faster than we have ever been able to before.”
CIOs looking to enable competitive advantages through strategic use of the cloud can start by changing their perspective on the role cloud can play within their organizations. Rather than seeing cloud simply as an enabler of greater efficiency, CIOs can think about how it might fuel growth, how it can help differentiate products and services, target new segments or identify evolving customer needs.
For one thing, working in the cloud removes the constraints of location and time that may once have encumbered teams. Removing those constraints provides opportunities to increase collaboration and foster innovation. Information once relegated to employees’ hard-drives can now be shared across the enterprise that lead to new ideas and better decisions.
The cloud can also be used to process enormous amounts of data that previously would have been too costly and difficult to analyze. Analysis of that data can surface key insights and trends your competitors may be blind to. CIOs can help the businesses they work for leverage that Big Data to do things like discover customer preferences, deliver more relevant, targeted offers and to see and react to emerging opportunities faster.
Finally, CIOs can use cloud to reduce developers’ time to market, if they are in that type of market. By tapping into the cloud to test new applications faster and get feedback more quickly, a company can bring overall costs down significantly.