In an effort to better understand the relationship between cloud computing and digital business in large enterprises, we have just completed a survey of 498 IT and business executives in the US, our most comprehensive research to date. The survey uncovered a stronger than expected connection between cloud technologies and digital sales and marketing programs. Half of all persons responding to the survey said that moving to the cloud would be their most important digital initiative in 2015.

Digital business has come to define a wave of applications and services that, in Gartner’s words, “blur the physical and digital worlds.” Millions of Internet-connected devices have created new ways for companies to engage customers and prospects, from social marketing campaigns to mobile loyalty apps. Cloud technologies, with their flexibility and affordability, are considered foundational to digital business, and yet many companies are still struggling with operational blockades like inflexible systems.

Nevertheless, cloud computing seems to be driving the digital enterprise. Nearly 59% of respondents to this la survey reported they’re using a combination of on-premise and cloud technologies to power digital business initiatives, while 22% of companies follow a “cloud first” methodology. The survey also asked about specific initiatives. The majority (36%) of persons responding said that between 25% and 50% of their digital sales and marketing services will leverage cloud-computing technologies this year, and almost a quarter (24%) will leverage cloud technologies for 50% to 75% of digital sales and marketing programs. Many companies are also using cloud-based tools to measure time to deployment for new digital programs (54%), the cost of said programs (48%), ROI (43%), and automation (33%).

Other digital business survey highlights:

  • 60% said cloud tools will support digital sales and marketing programs this year
  • 36% said understanding cloud was their most important consideration when going digital, followed by creating a roadmap of business and tech initiatives (25%) and cultural change (20%)
  • 38% said improving customer service was their company’s top driver for leveraging new cloud technologies, while 27% said the top driver was increasing revenue
  • 35% said more than half their budget this year would go toward digital campaigns
  • 44% said it takes up to three months to provision new infrastructure for complex applications
  • 52% said developing and deploying new digital programs rapidly and to scale was the primary advantage to using cloud technologies; 50% said cost savings was the primary advantage (respondents could select multiple answers to this question)

The results of the la survey show pretty clearly that companies are thinking about cloud technologies more strategically than just a year or two ago.  Enterprises are also seeing private cloud not providing the benefits it claimed in the last few years and thus are more likely moving to the public cloud.

Cloud computing is no longer simply an infrastructure play but a set of business-oriented capabilities that companies are using to better serve customers, be more agile and grow sales.  Enterprises are also requiring that the providers they are selecting must have critical capabilities for common workloads.

-Jeff Aden, EVP BD & Marketing