7 Ways Cloud Computing Can Fuel Innovation

by Sohini Bagchi    May 12, 2014

cloud innovation

Cloud computing has already become mainstream and is expected to fuel innovation in the coming days. According to a recent survey by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit, 67% of companies with revenues less than $1 billion have adopted the cloud at some level. Experts believe that while many companies are using cloud solely to save operational expenses, a few have started to use the cloud in disruptive ways, like creating new markets and industries, or are creating new revenue streams. In other words these companies are using Cloud as an enabler of innovation.

Here are some ways companies can leverage Cloud cloud to drive innovation.

#1. Improving collaboration 

Companies innovating with cloud are more likely to use the technology to collaborate across the organization. Cloud enables greater network and connections. Businesses can collaborate and share knowledge and expertise on a global scale, which often leads to innovation, states V R Indarsarath, CIO at Wheels India.

#2. Better decision making

Those companies, which were found to have gained an edge, have used cloud to make evidence-based decisions. Cloud helps companies provide insights at the point when decisions are made. It can also help in generating new ideas from more expansive and sophisticated analytics. “Organizations with a collaborative, open environment where C-suites and employees use cloud to collaborate and make decisions, enable innovation,” says he.

#3. Using SaaS as the model

Until now 90% companies innovating with cloud have deployed software as a service (SaaS), which they believe offers speed, reliability and scale. Having the ability to bring in new capabilities and functionality make it easy for companies to more rapidly transform business processes and deliver results. A recent Forrester report notes that the bulk of the market revenues come from SaaS solutions which accounted for $36 billion in revenue in 2013 and will grow manifold as companies are increasingly innovating with SaaS model.

Read: SaaS To Dominate Enterprise Cloud Market

#4. Leveraging expertise

When companies use cloud to locate and leverage expertise they are bound to remain a few notches above their rivals. “Cloud can help companies benefit from both scale and specialization,” says Rajesh Kumar, Head of Marketing, SAP India. In other words, it allows businesses to tap niches of specialized skill or knowledge that were previously too difficult to find or engage.

#5. Improving integration

This is one of the key purposes of deploying cloud technologies, states IBM consultant Susanne Hupfar in her blog. For example, mobile has become a key avenue of innovation today. Cloud not only helps companies integrate their mobile apps with existing transactional systems; it also provides the scalable infrastructure these new apps require. Cloud also improves integration between IT development and operations (DevOps).

#6. Deriving insights

Innovative organizations are more likely to use cloud-based analytics extensively to derive insights. “As big data grows bigger, companies are turning to cloud for access to new and different sources of data – and for better ways to manage their own swelling data stores. Cloud-based analytics can also make it easier to tap multiple, disparate datasets within the same analysis process, generating new insights from these non-traditional data mash-ups,” writes Hupfar.

#7. Reinventing customer relationship

Cloud helps in reinventing customer relationships – one of the major criteria for innovation. “Cloud enables companies to learn customer preferences and deliver more relevant offers, products and services. It also help integrate processes and systems to serve customers better or engage them in new social or mobile ways that were not possible before,” says Thomas Thomson, CIO, HDFC Life Insurance .

While cloud computing can help companies get a competitive edge, it is important for CIOs to have a focus on what workloads can go into the cloud and what do not. Companies using cloud as a tool to innovate are more likely to be successful than those who treat it like a silver bullet to solve all their problems, cautions Thompson. It is therefore important for companies to understand their workload characteristics, volatile as well as non-volatile data, and what can go into the public Cloud and what should not if they continue to innovate and generate revenue stream with Cloud.