The success of cloud technology in driving business transformation has been dramatic. With easier access to real-time information, increased productivity and the ability to manage personal information more conveniently, corporates have found new and interesting ways of boosting their sales and marketing campaigns.
The deployment of these solutions is expected to keep on growing. Enterprises with tax processes in the cloud will rise to 42%, according to a recent survey by KPMG. Things look equally positive on the vendor side. The global public cloud market is likely to reach $131 billion by 2017 according to the same survey, an 18.5% increase on 2012. The global software-as-a-service (SaaS) market is following a similarly trajectory: by 2016, it’s estimated to reach in excess of $33 billion.
With so many companies deploying cloud-based solutions, questions are no longer limited to those of deployment. Ongoing issues of management, supervision and improvement have become extremely important for those enterprises looking to be as innovative as possible in the way they use cloud technology.
An evolving landscape
“It’s very important to keep updating and managing the cloud strategy,” says Shahed Latif, KPMG in the US information protection and business resilience leader. “Market forces are changing all the time; we’re coming out of a recession and enterprises are entering new markets. Changes in the cloud vendor space are also rapid – what we’re seeing today could be very different to tomorrow. People need to be constantly evaluating their cloud strategy to take advantage of these changes in the marketplace.”
Technological advancements are driving all kinds of interesting innovations in the cloud. Machine-to-machine technology is simplifying data management by improving data exchange between devices and connecting distributed devices over secure cloud platforms. Data collection technology is growing as cloud vendors and companies look to tackle the risks and opportunities thrown up by the prevalence of big data.
“You have to be constantly monitoring what is out there,” Latif says, “because the vendor landscape is always evolving. There are a lot of acquisitions going on and a lot of integration within traditional companies. The software-as-a-service space is slightly more niche. There are a few established SaaS providers like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Microsoft, but there are also some boutique, specialists that are up and coming, such as Zuora, Workday and single sign-on cloud providers. Enterprises need to closely assess these new services. Will they offer the same kind of richness? What about the interface? Will they be able to deal with all the regulatory requirements?”
Changing role for CIOs
Enterprises also face questions about how best to organise themselves given these changes. One of the most common strategies spoken of is the reinvention of the role of the CIO as a ‘cloud innovation driver’, not just a purely technical/implementation position.
“The role of the CIO in the organisation has got to change,” Latif says. “He or she has to be seen as a service integrator, not a systems implementer. A key role will be as data custodian. Who owns the data and who is responsible for it? How do you know where it is and how do you benefit? The CIO of an organisation should understand where data is and what it’s used for.”
Measuring success is never easy. ROI is a commonly used yardstick, but, even there, the hidden costs that come with developing cloud solutions can obscure some of the practical benefits. Success also depends on the nature of the cloud service being rendered and, of course, on how the individual company wants to measure its accomplishments.
“Normally, my experience is that cloud computing is attached to a particular type of campaign, project or programme,” Latif says. “In this kind of circumstance, the measures of success will be much easier to spot: uptime availability, ROI, security risk and so on. But if the campaign is less sales and marketing-oriented, other questions arise. Am I getting better usage? Are people using the tool? Are they getting the results out of the campaigns and linking the results to the use of that technology? If success is realised, then it can drive further improvement. The smartest companies will always leverage business results and search for correlations with the new technology they use.”
This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the US.