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It's time to tap into the business value of cloud computing

With increasing market maturity, all cloud adopters -- not just the Netflixes of the world -- have a chance to translate the technology into a competitive business edge.

Most enterprises cite operational cost savings and faster access to IT resources as the biggest perks of public cloud. But what about the business value of cloud computing?

As cloud adoption matures, organizations continue the shift from just using the cloud as a piece of technology or infrastructure to something that can create a competitive business edge. Early on in the cloud market, this trend was mostly limited to major companies, such as Uber, Airbnb and Netflix -- all of which used cloud computing to their strategic advantage. Now, companies of all sizes are following in their footsteps.

Cloud as the basis for speed

Hess, an energy company that has been around for nearly 100 years, has an IT mix of packaged and custom-built applications, which is fairly standard for a business of its maturity level and size. The company is fairly unique, however, in that it chose to adopt cloud not for saved operational dollars, but for flexibility and speed.

In the cloud, Hess, which chose AWS as its provider, found it could quickly get servers into production, as well as tear them down and start again, as needed. For example, it now has the ability to install SQL Server and build virtual appliances without going through lengthy hardware and software procurement cycles.

It's one thing to say you've disrupted your market, but it's another to prove it to investors or a board of directors.

As a result, Hess reduced development and deployment time by half in most instances, which provided value on the business side of the house as well. For example, this enabled Hess to more easily transition ownership of the company, as well as accelerate its ability to deliver new capabilities to customers via the cloud.

While Hess is a great example of how an organization can tap into the business value of cloud computing, it is still a large company. So, what about some of the small or midsize firms out there?

In fact, there are many smaller, born-in-the-cloud businesses -- meaning they went with cloud-based infrastructure from day one -- which outpace and outmaneuver larger competitors because they use the public cloud as a force multiplier. One example is CleverTap, a mobile application analytics and user engagement platform. Through the cloud, this company has achieved scalability, along with business growth.

Disrupt your market

Still, regardless of size or whether it has a legacy IT footprint, any company can take certain steps to realize the business value of cloud computing and gain an edge in its relative market. These include:

  1. Identify the roadblocks to innovation and speed to market

Hess had to change as a culture to learn how to fail fast, and the company's cloud adoption served as a way to accelerate its path to both failure and success. Ultimately, its reduced time to market and ability to adjust more quickly to market opportunities via the cloud translated into a business advantage.

  1. Find the right technologies

Despite the many advantages of cloud, don't just assume it will best meet all your business and IT needs. In some cases, it might be best to opt for on-premises technologies if they can make the business more agile and reactive to emerging market changes than similar cloud-based options could. Also, don't get distracted by which technologies are the latest and greatest; concentrate on what will help you reach your unique business goals.

  1. Learn how to keep score

It's one thing to say you've disrupted your market, but it's another to prove it to investors or a board of directors. Define your metrics for success, and keep track of how well cloud technologies perform and improve your company. Also, don't forget that the business value of cloud computing typically outweighs the cost of the technology.

This was last published in July 2018

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