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The cloud is not what you think

Sure, cloud computing can cut costs and boost efficiency, but that’s not all. It’s changing business as we know it. See why it’s time to reframe our thoughts on cloud.

In the last decade, cloud computing has changed how many CIOs think of their department’s relationship to the overall business. For many of those who have already made the jump to the cloud in some way (and many have or intend to do so), IT is more flexible, efficient, and sensitive to changing business conditions than ever before.

However, to characterize the cloud as just an improved approach to traditional IT, as a better resource utilization method or for cutting costs, is to sell it far short. Instead, its users should have a much more expansive and ambitious view: with the right vision, strategy, methodology, and platform, a modern cloud can spark end-to-end digital transformation in ways that could only be imagined just a couple of years ago.

With the right vision, strategy,

methodology, and platform, a

modern cloud can spark end-to-end

digital transformation.

But what does “digital transformation” really mean? It's not just a radical change in how IT resource management and utilization are done — today, that’s table stakes. It is also fundamentally changing how business is done. In the modern cloud, customer experiences, business models, data strategy, innovation, and employee culture and productivity can all be reimagined in ways that lead to meaningful revenue growth. In fact, it’s fair to say that no aspect of business is left untouched by this transformation.

Business-model innovation

Businesses that run on the modern cloud open the window to turning internal products and services into new revenue streams from partners and customers, and across new geographies that couldn’t be reached previously. In fact, this is how the public-cloud vendors themselves invented the industry.

A pivot from resources to services

On the modern cloud, managed services abstract away underlying infrastructure, letting users and operators think in terms of familiar work semantics (jobs, queries, datasets), rather than underlying resources (servers, networks, databases). This new approach resets assumptions about how resources should be efficiently managed, and allows vendors to design smart pricing that is customer-centric, not platform-centric.

Reimagined consumer experiences

By building a digital backbone that extends from bare-metal servers all the way through the global IoT network to mobile (and other) consumer-facing surfaces, the modern cloud creates opportunities to rethink how customers and partners experience and interact with your products and services, how your supply chain operates, and perhaps even your brand itself. The possibilities in retail, media, and financial services alone are virtually endless.

A streamlined process for getting value from data

The modern cloud hides the complexities involved in building and managing data pipelines that refine vast quantities of data for analytics, and provides an end-user experience that makes it easier to find and share important insights. This approach contributes to a culture of "citizen data science" that was much more difficult to achieve otherwise.

Re-engineered employee collaboration

The modern cloud gives teams the potential to dissolve geographic boundaries between employees for communication and collaboration, removing the friction that inhibits productivity. Furthermore, there is no on-premise software with which to burden IT department employees for management of install, maintenance, or upgrade processes.

Machine learning at scale for competitive advantage

Machine learning (ML), which allows software to improve its performance of certain tasks without explicit programming, can integrate with all kinds of applications as a modern cloud service allowing you to build new apps that pass benefits onto customers or users (such as the ability to predict traffic, climate, health, or other conditions). According to MIT Technology Review research described here, nearly one-third of ML implementers have already obtained competitive advantage in this manner.

With these opportunities (and the list is incomplete) in front of you, it’s important to design your organization’s own special vision for the modern cloud carefully, and to implement it on a platform that not only places no boundaries on that vision, but helps make it real.

With Build, our goal is to continually provide inspiration as your organization builds its unique vision, on its own schedule. (For example, in addition to helping you understand the business drivers behind ML, we’ll help you brainstorm a cloud-based strategy for getting more value from data.) In addition to providing our own points of view, we’ll bring in voices from other parts of the ecosystem, including top CIOs, leading technologists, analysts, industry experts, and other observers.

In the end, we’re confident that we can contribute to your long-term success on the modern cloud, and toward digital transformation at your own pace. When those things happen, you’ll be thinking about the cloud in the right way.