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Five trends paving the way to a cloud-first future

26 Oct 18

Cloud computing has gained momentum in Australia in recent years, and our adoption rates rank amongst the highest globally. This has heralded a wave of transformative change in the way we do business, provide citizen services, and leverage new, emerging and future technologies. The cloud has also impacted life beyond big business, creating and enabling a new wave of experiences, such as Spotify and Netflix – services many can’t imagine life without now.

According to recent research from Gartner, Australia is predicted to spend $5.6 billion on public cloud services in 2019, and the market is set to experience 20.3 per cent year on year growth. However, there is still so much to do.

You can’t talk about being digital without being enabled by cloud, nor robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). And you can’t just think of the cloud as plumbing – it is much more than that.

It provides agility, speed to innovation and lower IT costs and is a key piece of the puzzle in competing in an increasingly complex and ever-evolving marketplace.

Cloud maturity is now also increasing, with projects previously often restricted to IT practice transformation, and cases of full-scale business transformation becoming more common.

With cloud computing becoming increasingly ingrained in the operations of Australian businesses, it’s clear that we’ve moved past the “what is cloud” stage, and we’re firmly in the “how do I use it” phase. But what comes next for cloud computing in Australia, and how can further value be realised? Let’s take a look at five trends that give us some insight on what’s next.

  1. Beyond the numbers

With benefits to the bottom line traditionally cited as the main driver of cloud adoption, we’ve seen a shift in the mindset of many CIOs recently. It’s gone from, “how much will I save”, to “how can the cloud help my business effectively compete in today’s digital age”. Cost savings aside, the cloud is now rightly recognised for its ability to drive innovation, ability and speed.

Additionally, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) has been key to cloud growth, with these technologies conveniently available in the cloud.

  1. Cloud is for all

Cloud computing is no longer limited to new, high tech businesses, or forward-thinking industries. We’ve seen substantial growth in more traditional industries, such as banking, natural resources, retail and public services, all of whom recognise the need to innovate and compete in the digital age.

We’ve also seen a rise in industry-specific cloud solutions, and this will only grow in the coming years.

  1. Think big, and link up the business and IT

As we covered, businesses are increasingly turning to the cloud for broader business transformation programs. During this process, it is imperative that they determine the full potential impact the cloud could have on their entire technology estate and their operating model.

Previously, many companies bought Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and bypassed the IT department in a bid to speed the process up. However, with SaaS platforms now such an integrated part of the business architecture, spanning the entire business in some cases, it is key that both the IT department and the buyers are tightly linked.

  1. Think cloud first

Cloud isn’t always a viable option for all businesses – it’s obviously dependent on individual requirements, regulations and system limitations. However, a ‘Cloud First’ strategy can help businesses benefit from the cloud’s advantages as much as possible, either when considering new applications, or old.

For example, when a company is taking stock of its technology estate, can applications be replaced with a cloud-native version?

  1. Navigate the stumbling blocks

The common issues we see when companies accelerate their cloud journey centre mainly around network, operating model and talent. With the biggest stumbling block often being the network. Existing networks built for legacy data centres just can’t handle the demands of the cloud.

Another issue we see is the operating model. As outlined, a cloud migration can have a major impact on a company’s operations and require the creation of a brand new operating model, or major changes to its existing model.

Finding the required skills can be another challenge. Major transformational change requires the right talent, and we’re facing a widening digital skills gap in this area.

These trends help to illustrate the maturity of the cloud computing market in Australia, but there’s certainly still more work to do. It’s encouraging to see that the foundational capabilities are now in place to power businesses in new ways, both today and in the future, enabling agility and innovation.

However, in order for truly transformational change to occur, Australian organisations must start to execute at pace, with the agility of a start-up.

Jordan Griffiths is Accenture’s Operations Lead for Australia and New Zealand