Cloud computing has changed how executives look at technology.
They want to embrace the emerging trends of big data and analytics, mobile computing and social business, yet they still need to deal with their existing information technology investments. For these executives, the cloud provides a quick and easy way to implement business process changes and find new ways to engage with customers.
Cloud offers a platform for the kind of tech experimentation, rapid development and distribution that used to be the province of the IT department. All of which means that at a time when corporate IT budgets are tied up in operations and maintenance, other business managers are turning to cloud computing to expand their businesses.
Here’s how three organizations are using the cloud in new ways:
–With the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships going on now through Monday, Sept. 8, the United States Tennis Association has all its technology services powered by an IBM cloud. When demand on USOpen.org or other services suddenly expands or contracts during the tournament’s two weeks, the cloud computing system can respond quickly — sometimes in as little as microseconds. We’ve been the USTA’s technology partner since 1992, constantly striving to deliver a better fan experience through technology. For example, we’ve analyzed more than 41 million data points from eight years of Grand Slam Matches to predict how individual players need to play to increase their chances of winning against each individual opponent.
–The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which serves about 400,000 commuters each day in Northern California, owns and operates a wireless network that supplies cell phone service to riders underground. BART dramatically reduced the expected delivery time of its pilot mobile app from months to weeks by using cloud services, which enable developers to rapidly develop and deliver projects faster and more efficiently.
–El Corte Ingles, the largest department store in Europe, is using the cloud to quickly expand online and provide customized offers, promotions and pricing in real time. They’re creating new services, such as a “click and collect” feature, which allows customers to order products online and then pick them up in a store. These kinds of innovations provide shoppers with a lot more convenience, while helping El Corte Ingles cut supply chain costs and delivery times, all because the retailer has an up-to-date understanding of its inventory.
As businesses move to the cloud, the pace of doing business becomes dramatically faster. Change is constant. Three trends in cloud computing are emerging that could help speed adoption of the cloud. They are:
1. Linking systems of records with next-generation systems of engagement. Companies are integrating the systems that underpin the internal operations of a company — such as HR, finance, or warehouse management — to the systems, such as email, social networking or collaboration hubs, which are used to connect with employees, partners and customers. The idea is to make the most productive and the most creative use of all the data that companies are collecting. The cloud, as a nimble, scalable platform, is helping propel this trend.
2. Using clouds to speed innovation. The cloud is creating a foundation for a flexible assembly model, not only to tap into past tech investments that organizations have made, but also to enable them to transform their business models quickly. Companies are taking services and data and linking them together to create new and innovative applications or business processes. By using an open cloud environment that is secure, their information is protected.
3. Automating services in a hybrid cloud environment. Large organizations can actually see and control how their services are being used to protect the security and privacy of their organizations by automating services in the cloud. They can develop apps, create tech-based business models, or work with collaborative communities. That’s a new way of thinking from past approaches in cloud computing where organizations thought they were losing control over their resources that were housed in large centralized data centers. Now it’s much easier for organizations to be nimble.
The cloud isn’t just for techies anymore. Managers are responding to the real opportunities that the cloud offers to develop new business models, forge closer ties with customers, and use the expertise of employees and partners. From a technology that was initially adopted for efficiency and cost savings, the cloud has emerged into a powerhouse of innovation throughout organizations.