Cloud is new business issue

TECHNOLOGY is an area that changes fast, and it is important that businesses make sure they have a solid IT strategy rather than making piecemeal purchasing decisions that can result in mis-matched systems that hinder, rather than support, the business strategy and business processes.

Business is increasingly dependent on collecting and using data and that’s where modern systems can make a real difference to the bottom line. A recent global study by KPMG found 81% of firms are either planning, are in early or advanced stages of experimentation or already have full-on cloud implementations. Almost a quarter of executives said their organisation already runs all core IT services on the cloud or is in transition to do so.Economic factors were cited by over three quarters as an important driver for cloud adoption but another key factor was driven by efforts to improve processes, offering more agility across the enterprise and gaining technical benefits.

‪The findings tell us that ‘cloud’ is becoming more of a business and not just a technology conversation. In these economic times, cloud computing should be considered by companies that are looking to reduce costs. Cloud adoption is quickly shifting from a competitive advantage to an operational necessity, enabling innovation that can create new business models and will impact the long-term growth opportunities and competitiveness of businesses. Executives whose companies use or intend to use a cloud strategy agree that spending will rise significantly in 2012, with nearly a fifth confirming that spending would exceed 20% of the total IT budget. But half say security is the most important concern, although data does get lost, stolen or destroyed in the non-cloud world. We protect the hardware we use, but if a laptop is stolen, no amount of password protection will help if it falls into the wrong hands.

‪Whilst I believe that many firms will want to keep their bespoke systems in-house, I can see businesses choosing to put things like CRM, email and office functions into the cloud and simply pay a per-user fee. IT directors therefore must change from being deliverers of IT to managers of IT. They must be more closely integrated with board policy, and at the same time the board must clearly understand the risks – and benefits – of this.

‪There will be obvious challenges around the transition, but for companies with ageing equipment or whose licences are expiring it can make sense to look closely at cloud options and I predict that there will be a marked shift of business computing into the Cloud in the next couple of years.