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Taking the Cloud from Concept to Reality
Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO, AT&T Business
The number of connected devices and the need for real-time communication between devices is intensifying. In turn, businesses need access to information and data anywhere, any time. In addition, companies now have access to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities that take the context from our connected world to make smarter, data-driven decisions.
This transformation brings new opportunities and considerations as businesses realize the financial impact of the cloud. This is clearly evidenced in the growing demand for these services. IDC estimates that worldwide whole cloud revenues will reach $564 billion in 2021, more than double those of 2016. This drastic migration is fueled by several factors, including digital transformation, innovation potential and workload cost optimization.
What came first—did cloud set the stage for the digital era or did digital evolution force cloud adoption? It’s hard to say, but we know that cloud adoption continues to accelerate, with no sign of slowing down.
Smart “things” are a main driver toward cloud adoption. Imagine walking into a retailer and the associate already knows your buying preferences and clothing size and instantly becomes a personal stylist. Then, after shopping, the checkout is augmented with a digital service thread that carries into the next interaction regardless of channel. Personalized experiences like this would not be possible without cloud-based technologies.
Easily consumable cloud services act as a petri-dish for innovation.
Cloud is truly a petri-dish for innovation and provides businesses with the ability to rapidly deploy new technologies and meet customer demand
Enterprises are also looking to the cloud for cost optimization and business agility. According to IDC, 41.5 percent of companies cite improved staff productivity as a reason to move to the cloud. It’s simple to see why. It provides the flexibility to quickly deploy new services and tools, which businesses can scale up and down based on their unique needs. Plus, in an increasingly mobile world, employees can collaborate on the go—accessing important data more securely from anywhere in the world.
Key Considerations for Innovating with the Cloud
Regardless of where you are in your journey to the cloud, there are several opportunities to keep in mind:
• Data Insights. The cloud allows companies to centralize and manage data more effectively than ever. Technologies like AI and machine learning allow businesses to aggregate data and gain new, valuable insights about customer buying and spending behaviors, market trends and more. It’s a powerful tool that, when combined with human analysis and instruction, can pave the way for businesses to make smarter, more effective decisions.
• Edge Computing. The intersection of edge computing and the cloud is going to be a topic of growing importance in the years to come. The edge bridges customer premises and the cloud, providing the performance and speeds needed to support highly-distributed applications. Augmented reality, smart screens, robotics, drones and more. These technologies will create more endpoints and require high bandwidth and low latency response times. Together, the edge and cloud each play their own critical role in delivering the speed and performance required to deliver truly transformative experiences.
Security. Cybersecurity should always be top of mind for any CIO, and during a transition to the cloud, that’s truer than ever. You need to ensure you have the tools, people and processes well aligned to provide end-to-end protection. Review your cybersecurity posture and internal architecture to see what needs updating. Consider solutions like virtual private networks, two factor mobile identity based authentication, and automated threat management systems to help you protect your cloud access and activity.
• The Long Game. Planning and patience is key. It’s never too late to take a step back and get it right. It’s important to base your transformation on your business objectives. In other words, don’t use cloud to define your business strategy – use cloud to execute your business strategy. Lastly, invest in your people. Cloud transformation requires new skills that may not be part of a company’s core competency. Investing in proper training will be worth it.
The cloud is just one piece of the puzzle driving change in how we do business and live our lives. Technologies are coming together in new ways to provide robust, highly-secure and connected experiences. This provides the business intelligence that allows us to make smarter decisions that will ultimately make this world a better place. We’re only just beginning to see the true potential of the cloud –its possibilities are endless.