Last year, we saw cloud technologies grow in sophistication and power, enhancing their ability to process vast amounts of complex data. Adoption of cloud services increased, not just among start-ups and small enterprises, but also larger, mainstream businesses. No surprise there, as cloud capabilities provide more flexibility, lower up-front costs – to name just two advantages – compared to on-premises solutions.
However, this doesn’t mean that adoption across businesses has been systematic or smooth. Deep cloud integration remains a challenge particularly as companies begin using it for more critical business functions, such as data storage. And bigger businesses have tended to opt for gradual adoption, given that transferring complex data systems and infrastructure can take time and stringent internal auditing.
Going forward, cloud adoption by businesses of all sizes will only accelerate. Here are the top five trends we see shaping the year ahead.
Organisations will embrace a hybrid world
Organisations will increasingly live in a hybrid world, split between on-premises solutions and cloud environments. For businesses with complex legacy IT systems, data is typically fragmented across local servers and cloud services. The shift towards cloud is a gradual journey rather than a sprint to the finish line.
A new breed of agile cloud software is allowing flexible choices to help CIOs manage this new balance between on-premises cloud services. For users, these solutions make complex hybrid environments function as one cohesive system. For IT, the benefits run even deeper. Investments in hybrid software will remain fully relevant even as organisations eventually shift operations toward an all-cloud future.
Cloud service providers will remove the complexities of regional data regulations
Complying with new government policies on data privacy and sovereignty can be expensive and time consuming for global companies. In 2015, the European Union ruled against Safe Harbor, requiring international companies to revamp many of their compliance efforts. Then in July 2016, the Privacy Shield agreement again demanded new efforts from businesses with data spanning the Atlantic. These regulations are proving to be a constant challenge, and many companies are looking to major cloud providers for help.
As they operate globally while maintaining regional data centres that meet today’s regulations, cloud service providers offer a solution for global companies to overcome these barriers. They have teams dedicated to monitoring and planning for regulatory shifts – something that can be cost-prohibitive for businesses. In 2017, more organisations will look to major cloud providers to take the pain and cost out of meeting regulations, allowing them to focus on their core business.
Prioritising customer success and adoption
It’s no secret that opportunities for brand and sales engagement increasingly span the entire lifecycle of a buyer’s journey, which is why it’s vital for cloud vendors to focus on their customers’ long-term success, not to mention develop a strong working relationship with both IT and the business.
Today, cloud software vendors are extending their focus far beyond point of sale. Because software deployments require fewer initial investments of time and money, cloud vendors are looking to work with customers to ensure product adoption and business value.
By offering higher levels of customer support, more robust training resources, and deeper guidance on product adoption, this new timeframe is leading to mutually beneficial partnerships. From this, enterprises realise more value from their investments, and vendors are able to build long-term customers rather than one-time buyers.
Flexible analytics will solve the IoT’s last-mile challenge
IoT data tends to be heterogeneous and stored across multiple systems, from Hadoop clusters to NoSQL databases. As such, the market is calling for analytical tools that seamlessly connect to and combine all those cloud-hosted data sources, enabling businesses to explore and visualise any type of data stored anywhere and maximise the value of their IoT investment.
Organisations across the world are deploying flexible business intelligence solutions that allow them to analyse data from multiple sources of varying formats. Joining together incongruent IoT data into a single view, companies can have a more holistic view of the business which means they can more easily identify problems and respond quickly. With the solution to the “last-mile” of IoT data, they can increase efficiencies and improve their bottom line.
IT will shift its skill set
With growth in cloud adoption creating increased demand for specialist cloud expertise, IT is responding by prioritising specific training on cloud technologies and developing internal training programmes focusing on security, hosted databases and infrastructure as a service.
IT managers are stepping up their search for candidates with experience in DevOps practices and cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. IT is shifting its workflow, too. Since concerns like scalability and maintenance are all but taken care of with the cloud, IT departments will place a greater emphasis on agile methods that provide continuous development and project delivery.