Over the past year, the cloud has become a pivotal asset in tackling disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, cloud adoption accelerated more than we could have predicted during 2020, and we don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Driven by the need for expanding capacity, increasing flexibility, and cost efficiency, last year was the wakeup call many businesses needed to realise the benefits of the cloud.
2020 saw cloud technologies turn the world’s commuters into a digital workforce overnight, helping deliver the business tools and services necessary for day-to-day working instantly and on-demand. If the message last year was to ‘adopt the cloud quickly’, the message this year will be ‘do it now or get left behind’. Businesses that don’t opt for cloud-based solutions will be putting themselves at much greater risk from both a security and efficiency perspective.
With cloud migration efforts remaining solely front and centre, companies should be focused on three main priorities this year:
Achieving success with these priorities will require both changes in technology and company culture. These changes will create opportunities for businesses to innovate, but they can only be realised if the relationship with and towards data evolves. Data needs to be protected and managed like any other asset, shared in relevant ways, and ultimately leveraged. Most businesses don’t realise the true value and potential that underutilised data can have.
Investors are also realising the value of the cloud, seeing it come to life in real-time, and are watching it closely as a result. As we’ve already seen, some cloud companies are now generating double, even triple-digit revenue growth, and cloud indexes are outperforming the market. Case in point is the Snowflake IPO from September, which set the record as the largest software company IPO after shares doubled the first day to more than $120 a share, and quickly rose the second day to more than $245 a share.
That said, the competition in the cloud software space is still fierce, but this continued interest and investment brings opportunities to fuel even greater innovation and differentiation from competitors. This, in turn, helps drive even more value for customers, growing revenue and investment, and thus starting this virtuous cycle all over again.
Be it new ways to collaborate, the ability to enable low-cost experimentation, or the opportunity for rapid global scaling of solutions, organisations will drive insights in the cloud with new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. All of this will help build new cloud-native applications, and create APIs that connect with other businesses.
As more workloads grow in the cloud, organisations need to focus on what their cloud priorities are. This will enable them to successfully break down silos, create closer collaboration, drive faster innovation and realise faster time to value. And ultimately, this supports the growth of one of the most important metrics – data under management – which serves as a good proxy for the value cloud solutions are creating today and building.
This will also help separate the smoke and mirrors of those companies that are ‘cloud washing’ by attaching a cloud label onto existing services from those that truly embrace the cloud. Whilst cloud computing removes barriers to scalability and affordability, not all cloud companies will be able to maximise the value of data being stored in their cloud. In fact, according to our own recent survey of 700 IT leaders in the US and UK, 41 percent of IT leaders still say that the data they collect is not ready to use when they need it for decision making. Ultimately, businesses will vote on the cloud platforms with their data in 2021, not just their dollars.