Cloud Computing Revolution: The March Goes On

In a June article in CIO magazine, strategist Bernard Golden posed a provocative question: “Has Cloud Computing Been a Failed Revolution?”

Has cloud computing passed its zenith, or is it still just advancing slowly, due to the reluctance of IT organizations to embrace it?

In the CIO article, Golden’s contemplation was triggered by a graphic that Peter Coffee of Salesforce included in a presentation – the number of Google searches for the phrase “cloud computing”:

Google searches for
Google searches for “cloud computing” took off in 2008, peaked in 2011 and have tailed off since then. (Image source: CIO article)

Searches for the term revved up in 2008, peaked in 2011, and then began to ebb. Coffee hypothesized that the lack of interest in the phrase was evidence that people no longer find cloud computing compelling.

Golden’s take is that, far from being through with cloud, “most IT organizations have barely started working with cloud computing, much less completed their journey” – and that many don’t understand the key characteristics of cloud, let alone operate cloud environments. He ended with a warning to IT organizations that they need to increase their pace of cloud implementation, or else try to find a new role that keeps them relevant in the coming years.

So, which is it? Has cloud computing passed its zenith, or is it still just advancing slowly, due to the reluctance of IT organizations to embrace it?

Our recently released worldwide study on tech areas including cloud, IBM Business Tech Trends, may help shed some light on this topic. From our analysis, I’d say neither conjecture holds up.

Since 2012, adoption of cloud computing has advanced rapidly to the point where it’s now mainstream, with 75% of enterprises reporting they’re deploying cloud solutions (which may help explain the diminished interest in “cloud computing” as a search term):

Click to see larger version of this graphic

So, cloud is very definitely already here in a big way. Yet there’s no slowdown in sight: 3/4 of enterprises plan to increase their investments in cloud over the next two years.

Click to enlarge the infographic
Click to enlarge the infographic

We also looked at perspectives on the strategic importance of cloud to organizations’ business success: 74% of IT respondents report that cloud is of high strategic importance to their organization, vs. 63% of business respondents. And, 82% of IT respondents think cloud will be of high strategic importance to them in two years, vs. 69% of business respondents. So – rather than failing to embrace cloud – IT actually appears to hold a somewhat higher strategic view of cloud than the business decision makers.

The top motivators for adopting cloud – as reported by IT and business – differ only slightly. For IT respondents, the top three drivers are: increasing workforce efficiency, lowering costs, and enhancing communication and collaboration. For business respondents, three motivators tie for the top spot: lowering costs, improving the customer experience, and increasing workforce efficiency.

Our study found that Pacesetters – a segment of leading enterprises we studied closely – are 4-7x more likely than other enterprises to be placing cloud at the core of their other initiatives (social, mobile, big data and analytics). Is the emphasis on cloud paying off? The answer is a resounding “yes”: 9 in 10 Pacesetters tell us that they’re achieving major competitive advantage through their cloud efforts.

Leaders from across the globe – representing a wide variety of industries, and both IT and business – shared with us the “aha moment” when they first realized the business value of cloud.

Click to enlarge infographic
Click to enlarge graphic or download PDF version

What we’re seeing here is a cloud revolution still in full swing.  Cloud is becoming a strategic business tool.

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