Cloud gives businesses an edge, IBM study finds

Businesses using cloud in a big way are outpacing their less cloud-savvy competitors, with those using cloud computing growing their revenue at almost double the rate compared to those who aren’t, according to a new study from IBM Corp.

In a study of about 800 CEOs, CIOs, CMOs, and professionals in finance and human resources based all over the world, working in both enterprise organizations and small businesses, IBM divided its respondents into three categories – pacesetters, challengers, and chasers.

It classified pacesetters as organizations who were taking advantage of the cloud and had deployed it across the board, with about 18 per cent of its respondents falling into this category. IBM said these pacesetters had reported a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7 per cent from 2009 to 2012. That’s about 1.9 times as much as the CAGR of the other two categories, IBM said.

(Image: IBM). Click to enlarge.
(Image: IBM). Click to enlarge.

For the 51 per cent of organizations that have also adopted cloud, but hadn’t differentiated themselves or were slower to respond to the market, they were named challengers. They reported a growth rate of 6.6 per cent during the same period.

And for the 31 per cent of organizations who are still hanging back and testing the waters with cloud computing, IBM classified them as chasers, indicating their CAGR was around 6.8 per cent.

Among one of the biggest advantages for cloud users was improving relationships with customers, IBM said in its report. About 59 per cent of pacesetters said they had revamped their relationships with their customers, compared to 46 per cent of challengers and 25 per cent of chasers.

To reach those customers, pacesetters were also making better of use of their data to find out about customer preferences, the IBM study found. Fifty-four per cent of pacesetters were analyzing their data to find out what customers want, compared to 44 per cent of challengers and 20 per cent of chasers. That led to 65 per cent of pacesetters using that data to make business decisions, with 62 per cent of challengers following suit. In this respect, chasers trailed behind, with just 30 per cent saying insights derived from data analytics was driving their choices.

And inside their companies, those using cloud were doing a better job of collaborating than their competitors, according to the IBM study. About 58 per cent of pacesetters said they were using the cloud to collaborate across their organizations, compared to 45 per cent of challengers and 34 per cent of chasers.

“This allows them to benefit from both scale and specialization. Cloud can bring together masses of collaborators, spreading knowledge faster and drawing on the collective wisdom of the crowd. And it helps pacesetters capitalize on ‘long-tail’ expertise. With cloud-sized reach, they can tap remote niches of specialized knowledge or skill that were previously impractical, if not impossible, to engage,” the study’s authors wrote.

Still, beyond improving customer relations, data analytics, and collaboration, cloud users want to see bigger and better things in the future. Pacesetters said in the future, they hope to see a more fragmented cloud, where customers can mix and match new products and services within the cloud to fit their needs.

They’re also hoping for cloud platforms tailored towards their industries, whether that be retail, healthcare, or anything else that might require a more customized cloud.

And finally, across the board, pacesetters, challengers, and chasers said the cloud should ideally have an even bigger store of big data. There are still huge chunks of data that organizations can’t access nor manage – something that might help them grow their businesses in the future.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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