Driven by the demand for speed, flexibility, scale and anywhere access, consumers and businesses are increasingly realising the benefits of a cloud-enabled world.
According to Forrester Research, the public cloud computing market is estimated to reach US$191 billion by 2020, a significant climb from 2013’s total of $58bn. Forrester asserts that cloud applications will lead this growth, achieving approximately $133bn in revenue by 2020.
In business, more organisations are relying on the cloud to achieve benefits that extend far beyond cost efficiency. Executives are increasingly realising that cloud computing can be a catalyst for process improvement as well as a driver of business transformation.
In the UAE, the cloud services market and cloud computing are set to grow in a big way, fuelled by growing smartphone and broadband penetration. According to the fourth Cisco Global Cloud Index (2013 – 2018), the Middle East and Africa will register the world’s highest cloud traffic growth rate from 2013-2018.
Already, cloud is being implemented in some leading organisations in the UAE. Recently, Al Futtaim Group adopted cloud-based solutions developed by SAP. The Jumeirah Group also opted for SDN (Software Defined Network) to transform its data centre into a more efficient system, which has the added benefit of using less power than traditional data operating systems. While it is still too soon to measure the success of this transition, the next few years should produce significant benefits, which other organisations in the region will be keen to emulate.
In other parts of the world, cloud continues to drive disruption. In fact, a global KPMG survey of nearly 800 technology industry leaders last year ranked cloud as the technology that will have the greatest impact in driving business transformation for enterprises.
According to the executives in the survey, the top use of cloud is to drive cost efficiencies (49 per cent). But the survey results reveal that an increasing number of organisations are using cloud technology to enact large-scale change, whether within individual business units or across the enterprise.
These transformative uses of cloud include: better enabling a flexible and mobile workforce (42 per cent); improving alignment and interaction with customers, suppliers and business partners (37 per cent); and better leveraging data to provide insightful business decisions (35 per cent).
Globally, the benefits of migrating to cloud systems span diverse sectors. For instance, AT&T uses cloud to make the business interactive, agile and cost-effective. It is moving the traditional network onto the cloud so it can ramp up services more quickly, and provide faster delivery of products and services to customers.
Retailers today are recognising the importance of using cloud to connect with consumers. Compared to other industries, retail executives are more likely to say their organisations are using cloud to improve alignment and interaction with customers, suppliers and business partners.
In the Mena region, mobile-optimised e-commerce or customer support tools, for example, can give retailers a competitive advantage during the peak holiday season, when providing personalised and instantaneous service is the new requirement for success.
Healthcare providers can use the cloud as a powerful tool for clinical research, enabling medical professionals to access information about treatment options that may not be available internally.
As cloud continues to prove its potential, business leaders need to evaluate and determine where the greatest strategic opportunities exist for cloud throughout their organisation.
Making such changes to an organisation are costly and time consuming, but such a large increase in responses signals the tremendous impact, beyond cost reduction, that cloud can have on an organisation. These results suggest that for many organisations, cloud has truly become a transformative solution.
What’s more, cloud is not only a transformative solution that helps organisations advance strategic initiatives and achieve strategic goals.
As organisations undergo large-scale change, cloud improves rapid scale – it enables IT to provision and modify complex infrastructure faster than traditional on-premise systems. Cloud also improves agility – enabling organisations to be more nimble and responsive to changing business needs. And finally, cloud improves functionality – organisations can take advantage of innovation more easily with cloud, as it reduces the need for incremental investments in supporting technology infrastructure.
Ian Gomes is the head of advisory, KPMG Lower Gulf.
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