In the mid-2000s, the cloud was banging on the IT world's door. Some were sceptical about this new fad - and for good reason, as it takes time for such disruptive technologies to mature.
The cloud did not slip away as another come-and-go trend - instead, it evolved and went on to become a technology behemoth. Now, the cloud is well and truly in its ‘prime time'.
According to Accenture ANZ cloud first lead Matt Coates, the cloud is the most disruptive and the most value-creating technology of our time.
“Cloud is the foundation for the digital transformation that is driving profound changes in how businesses operate, compete and create value for all their stakeholders.
Cloud adoption typically follows one of three separate paths: migration, acceleration, or growth and innovation.
1. Migration: This is the most common path to the cloud. Migration means organisations use cloud technologies to enable software-as-a-service (SaaS) capabilities. The goal is to run business applications more efficiently.
2. Acceleration: This is another popular path that involves building out cloud capabilities in analytics and software engineering. These capabilities could be built into AI and machine learning. Acceleration also requires upskilling the workforce to support new capabilities.
3. Growth and innovation: This is the cloud path less travelled because it's the most ambitious. Organisations expect the cloud to be the long-term foundation for their business reinvention. They do not let legacy technologies and processes hold them back. They also realise the need to scale with the right combination of technology, talent, and the right economic model.
Accenture's Business in the Cloud: The Future Made Possible report, which polled 1,150 organisations in Asia Pacific, found that companies that took a strategic approach to cloud adoption over the last five years were more than 2.5 times more likely to achieve double-digit revenue growth.
‘Cloud champions' which account for 20% of organisations, are organisations that have adopted all technologies across the three different cloud paths mentioned earlier. ‘Cloud followers' account for 58% of organisations and use a subset of technologies across the three paths; while ‘the rest' account for 22% and may not have applied many technologies from any of the three paths.
What's more, only 35% of organisations believe they have realised the full potential of cloud investments. Similarly, only 35% are using the cloud to develop new products and services. There could be many missed opportunities.
There is an important message for CEOs and business decision-makers. According to Accenture, CEOs need to build bridges between business growth goals and the change needed to support them.
Accenture says that there are two main areas that businesses need to improve on when it comes to leveraging the cloud:
- Embracing the power of the cloud to create and launch brand new products and services (i.e. build something different from the ground up).
- Embracing the power of the cloud to transform the economics of functions outside of IT (i.e. marketing, sales, and customer service).
For many CEOs, using the cloud to prepare for business reinvention is still uncharted territory, but it doesn't have to be.
Accenture recommends the following steps:
1. Set a higher value bar: Commit to cloud long term.
2. Embrace change differently: Use cloud-led programs to re-wire the enterprise operating model from the IT landscape to the workforce and business culture.
3. Build ‘one team': Expand the talent pool to include data scientists, software engineers, cloud architects, and cybersecurity specialists.
4. Move forward responsibly: Decision-makers need to ensure that responsible practices are embedded into every part of the organisation, from technology and product development to marketing, sales and customer service.
“Now is the moment for truly visionary CEOs to focus on creating shared success by embarking on a more ambitious cloud path, together with the rest of their C-suite,” the report concludes.