Gartner predicts cloud computing will become the bulk of new IT spend by 2016. Yet as the transition to the cloud continues, the importance rests not in simply having the technology, but how we use it to our advantage. Smart companies are now investing their IP in business-driven innovation on top of the cloud computing revolution.

One example comes from the advantages businesses are finding from big data. Throughout 2013 and into 2014 organizations adopted cloud technologies to create a more data-driven, agile and affordable way of working. Based on the speed of the transformation and the significant ROI, we see further acceptance of the cloud as a business enabler, as organizations continue to debunk the myths around the cloud and recognize real competitive advantages.

As we enter a second wave of cloud development, the emergence of a cloud first strategy across sectors can be seen, driven by increased cloud acceptance and cross-enterprise collaboration:

More Collaboration, Less Dependency

Business users want the ability to make plans, analyze vast volumes of data and perform financial consolidation immediately, without depending on input from IT teams or business analysts. One of the biggest innovations in cloud computing, the Data Cloud, helps break business silos down as disparate teams can work with real time data on the same platform to make more informed decisions and forecasts.

Blurred Lines Between Finance, Sales and Operations

By moving modeling and planning to the cloud, businesses can enable alignment and execution that is not just top down or bottom up, but across functions. More and more finance, sales and operations teams are building models that answer “what if?” scenarios for immediate results. Enterprises have the ability to ask the question, "what if I reorganize my business in this way?" and see how the results will impact the entire organization.

Cloud First Approach to Computing

The main objections to cloud adoption were traditionally concerns around the security of data and the perceived issues of data integration. During 2013, we hit a tipping point around the world and across almost all sectors. IT teams gained a better understanding of the value of cloud and began encouraging users to look to the cloud first in order to solve business issues. Today, this trend continues and all verticals, including previously slow adopting government and banking organizations, are looking to the cloud to tackle IT and business challenges.

As IDC’s recent cloud forecast predicts cloud spending is set to surpass $100 billion by 2017, not only will the scale of cloud implementations be much larger, the primary adoption drivers will also be more user and solution driven. We are looking at a time where the cloud sector is moving into a second phase of development, particularly with increasing integration of big data and migration from traditional IT services. IT departments are finding common ground with business users in the cloud, resulting in significant impact on today’s business processes and outcomes.