As the old year moves into the new, it’s customary in business to look at recent growth in comparison to the prior year. It gives us a sense of what we’ve achieved and helps bring the challenges of the coming year into relief. As I reflect on cloud, it’s also helpful to think about the prevailing mindsets of a year ago: how organizations were thinking about cloud then, and how that thinking has evolved; how adoption patterns are changing, if indeed they are; and what the needs and expectations are as the cloud platform continues to advance through 2013 and beyond.
What stands out most to me is that a year ago many if not most CIOs viewed cloud in what we might deem operational terms. In other words, they looked to cloud to drive reductions in operational and infrastructure costs, or they leveraged cloud to speed delivery of applications and tools to their internal clientele. But since then, the demands on CIOs continue to intensify. Organizational leaders expect CIOs—and IT in general—to ratchet up their involvement in business strategy and innovation. At the same time, the operational pressures have not abated; CIOs are obliged to spend the majority of their time and resources dealing with basic IT needs.
What has changed, though, is that CIOs have a greater realization that cloud can help them with business capabilities such as achieving competitive advantage through vertical integration and exploiting new delivery channels and markets. In other words, they are starting to see how cloud can help them transform IT from a cost center that supports ongoing operations to a strategic center of business innovation—a center that helps the business rapidly develop and launch new product and service offerings.
As CIOs seek to advance their missions, they can start to realize a different type of value based on faster time to market, accelerated innovation and in some cases transforming the actual business model. But doing so requires analyzing where their organizations currently reside on the continuum of cloud value, and if and where they see their missions migrating over time. This type of analysis will provide valuable direction about which cloud services and capabilities to pursue and how to do so in the context of an enterprise-wide cloud strategic plan.
I recently gave an interview in InformationWeek on this topic of enterprise cloud from an IBM perspective. Read it here–I welcome your thoughts.