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IT departments aren't getting sidelined by cloud, suggests research

Research from Harvard Business Review suggests IT departments are maintaining a firm grip on enterprise cloud deployments

Concerns that cloud computing could spell the end of enterprise IT departments appear unfounded, as research suggests business units are increasingly turning to IT to support their cloud plans.

That’s according to the findings of Harvard Business Review’s latest cloud computing report, which features responses from 452 senior business executives working in enterprises dotted about the globe.

Out of those surveyed in the Verizon-commissioned report, just 16% said they would embark on a cloud purchase without notifying the IT department first, while 43% said off-premise deployments in their organisation were always signed off by IT.

A further 39% of participants, however, said cloud was a collaborative purchase in their companies, involving both line of business units and the IT department.

Meanwhile, 52% of those that have kept IT involved in their purchases claim the decision has allowed them to save money and reduce complexity.

“In these cases, central IT advises business units and departments on their cloud efforts, provides due diligence, and ensures security and interoperability concerns are addressed,” the report states.

“Survey respondents were for the most part quite positive about the benefits of partnering with IT, claiming it has increased not only security and reliability, but also the ability to integrate cloud services with other company systems – cloud or not – and business processes.”

The report also suggests there is still some work to do, though, when it comes to ensuring employees that do decide to go it alone are procuring cloud services in a safe way.

For example, the research showed 35% of respondents don’t involve IT security experts when deciding which cloud computing services to use, while 55% don’t have policies in place to dictate which applications would be safe to use.

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Large-scale cloud adoption hits competition

Elsewhere in the report, it’s claimed that companies that continue to resist the lure of cloud are finding it increasingly difficult to compete against firms that have.

This is because the use of cloud allows companies to enter new business segments with greater speed and ease, while freeing up money to support new ventures that would previously have been tied up in hardware investments.

As a result, 71% of respondents said using cloud had boosted their organisation’s business agility, while 72% said using it had paved the way for better collaboration in the business.

This has contributed to the early adopters of cloud enjoying a competitive advantage over their rivals, as it’s allowed them to innovate quicker in response to new market trends.

So much so, 40% of respondents claimed adopting cloud had helped increased their company’s revenue, and 36% credited its use in driving up profit margins.

As more companies join the cloud bandwagon, this positive effect has lessened to a certain extent, the report states, with fewer respondents (16%) claiming it has given them a significant competitive advantage over their rivals than in 2014’s report (30%).

However, companies that continue to ignore cloud are at risk of falling even further behind their contemporaries, the report warns.

“The ability to adapt quickly is less of an advantage when everyone can do it,” it reads. “Not adopting cloud is becoming a competitive disadvantage.”

The report also points out that maintaining the competitive edge cloud has afforded them may prove a challenge for some.

“Advantage in the future will come from how well organisations adapt to the new, much faster, and more collaborative way of doing business that cloud makes possible,” the report continues.

“Success will depend on how well organisations manage not only their use of cloud, but also the changes required in skills, processes, business models, and relationships – both inside and outside the traditional walls of the enterprise.”

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