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Cloud and the digital imperative

We have witnessed time and again how young startups are leveraging digital technologies to disrupt industries and transform the way consumers do things. The speed and innovation facilitated by digital technologies have, over the last few years, seen market leaders toppled and the balance of power shift from the old guard to digitally native organisations.

But what is clear is that this sort of innovation is happening across the entire spectrum of organisations, from the Ubers and Airbnbs of this world to more established organisations.

It should come as no surprise, then, that digital transformation is creeping up businesses’ agendas as they seek to get ahead of the game, steer and make better use of technology, attract talent and drive innovation. And although digital transformation strategies are somewhat in their infancy, seven in ten UK organisations expect to have implemented one by the end of 2017.

Cloud is very much part of the digital transformation story and it is clear those companies with designs on digitally transforming themselves would struggle to do so without the delivery model.

Unbound, at least from a technology point of view, from fixed infrastructure and proprietary IT, businesses using cloud are free to take more risks. Flexible, on-demand, consumption-based cloud services and applications are removing the barriers to change, allowing businesses to react to changing market conditions, and to move on new opportunities faster than their competitors, without having to invest heavily in IT infrastructure and skills. Cloud removes, or at least lessens, the risks.

Benefits of the cloud

The benefits of cloud and adopting a cloud-first approach are considerable and, indeed, well documented. Organisations using cloud routinely report that it has helped them to save time, gain competitive advantage, and achieve a whole host of other tangible and intangible benefits, from improved customer engagement and employee satisfaction to a significantly more resilient IT estate.

But the journey to cloud and, by extension, to unlocking the potential of digital transformation, is far from complete. While four in five British organisations use cloud services to some extent, their data is still more likely to be kept in-house than in the cloud.

Cloud is part of the digital transformation story and those companies with designs on digitally transforming themselves would struggle to do so without the delivery model

Concerns about security and data privacy keep certain applications firmly on the ground, while legacy technology and infrastructure necessarily slow the pace of adoption as businesses look to get the most out of their existing investments. Elsewhere, a lack of skills and executive leadership, particularly in smaller businesses, prevent more applications and infrastructure from being migrated.

Encouragingly, there are strong indications this will change in the not-too-distant future. Three quarters of cloud users expect to increase their usage over the next year and more than six in ten organisations can foresee a time when they will migrate everything to the cloud, representing a significant shift from this time last year.

Cloud will continue to grow and mature over the course of this year, and those businesses that don’t use it or are yet fully to explore and exploit the delivery model would be advised to do so – and quickly.