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Cloud investments should be to boost agility, not cut costs

As more companies invest in the cloud, many are quickly realizing that it’s much more than a digital trend or the next step on the continuum of IT cost reduction – it’s an important business opportunity to innovate-to-win – quickly - that also delivers more flexibility, scalability and efficiency across operations.

That’s why adoption continues to grow, as both line-of-business and IT leaders push for organizations to reap the many business and competitive benefits of moving from on-premises technologies to cloud options.

Cloud computing is projected to increase to $162B in 2020, attaining a CAGR of 19 percent. This figure reflects the reality of the market, an evolution into a model of technology consumption, but more importantly, business agility, that no one can deny in the face of the market’s current competitive pressures.

Committing to the Cloud

Beyond the hype and stats, there are real stories and scenarios where businesses are achieving significant business (not IT) returns on their cloud investments. Not only small and medium businesses that are nimbler and more open to new technologies – but big multinational enterprises are also seeing the benefits of adopting the cloud for enabling their existing complex environments to become more nimble.

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In particular, as businesses develop, enrich and integrate new applications, cloud platforms deliver unprecedented ease and enhanced capabilities for developing, testing and deploying business apps that gain competitive advantage.

What is it about the cloud that is so attractive?

To get a quick blueprint of how the cloud connects to a successful enterprise, let’s map out some of the top benefits:

Openness

With a cloud-based open infrastructure, enterprises can drive higher productivity and lower application development costs. For instance, they can accelerate time-to-market for business projects by leveraging multiple technologies (many with an open source community to fuel new innovations), design paradigms and multi-cloud options for deployment. They can also create business value in a variety of application development scenarios – whether it be via Java, Node JS, or in SAP’s case ABAP – all using open standards like Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, Knative, Istio, Open service Brokers and many other projects.

Integration & Orchestration

Having access to open integrations and innovations with APIs is one of the most important assets during application development. Companies are able to access simple, secure and scalable digital assets through APIs on a cloud platform. In short, companies can manage business logic without initial development. And smart LOB and IT executives don’t just look for API Management from cloud vendors, they demand prebuilt APIs and integrated workflow tools that will enable fast assembly for new app functionality.

Data & Analytics

Leveraging a cloud-based model with data and analytics allows companies to gain actionable insights from massive volumes of data, including unstructured, streaming, IoT and Big Data. And this is not your father’s analytics, as the world of cloud analytics demands access to real-time data, not having the luxury of batch windows to prepare stale, static reports (Millennials; please check here for the concept of Batch Windows). Having an “always-on” approach in today’s market is what will set your company apart.

Solution Accessibility

In the cloud, new technologies can be leveraged to enhance business processes and functionality with intelligence, efficiency and increased user engagement. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning do not exist in a Universe of their own (Not an MCU reference), but rather will be successful as capabilities embedded into existing and new apps to drive innovation and automation. Winning businesses will adopt these innovations with a flexible release strategy, while maintaining the stability of business operations.

How Are Companies Using the Cloud Today?
The cloud benefits listed above create new opportunities for enterprises to drive strategic business growth and process improvement. Take Danone or Cespa, who are both leveraging cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to deliver new innovations, faster.

Danone is one of the leading food companies in the world, focused on four visions: fresh dairy, water, early-life nutrition and medical nutrition. Danone has implemented a cloud approach to extend its applications to as many users as possible, by scalably creating web and mobile apps that seamlessly connect consumers to the company’s systems.

Since cloud implementation, they have reached several new groups they wouldn’t have been able to beforehand, enabling better two-way communication and capturing all consumer interaction data. From a developer’s point of view, cloud adoption has been instrumental, as they are able to create new functionality on the fly and deploy it easily and economically to their users.

This scenario is repeated in other industries and enterprises, such as Cepsa, the second largest petroleum and chemical company in Spain. Cespa had already integrated new technologies into its operations, but it still needed to reinvent and streamline processes, something that it was finally able to accomplish by using iOS mobile apps built on an open cloud platform.

Now, these apps allow service station workers to anticipate their own needs and place new supply orders with a single click. Moreover, direct sales representatives also benefit because they can manage every customer interaction on their smartphones, speeding up order processing, approval and fulfilment.

As businesses continue to adopt cloud strategies, open platforms are helping them reach new levels of scalability and agility. Just as Danone and Cespa showcase, when a company’s IT makes the transition to cloud platforms for agility, innovation and competitive advantage, it opens the door for growth, a wealth of actionable data, real-time analytics and rapid development & deployment – and with cost savings thrown in for good measure.

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