The role of the cloud as a driver of business transformation is often exemplified by disruptive brands that were ‘born in the cloud’. They present very compelling examples of how the cloud can enable agile, responsive businesses which challenge more established rivals. Just look at how the way we consume movies, listen to music and order taxis has been revolutionised in recent years.

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Brands like these have thrown down the gauntlet in all sectors, challenging others to up their game and be better attuned to customer needs. Cloud also provides the means for more traditional businesses to take up the challenge and emerge victoriously. But success requires more than just a piecemeal approach to deploying cloud. The benefits can only actually be realised if the business itself realigns to put cloud front and centre through a clearly defined enterprise cloud strategy.

Achieving this can involve a measure of organisational realignment that new challenger brands will likely not have experienced. When a company starts with cloud at its centre, lines of business radiate from that centre and are fundamentally connected to it. This means the organisation can focus on capturing customer data and real-time information and using that to meet customer requirements better and develop new services.

More established businesses may have been operating before cloud – or even before on-premise data centres. They may have a more organic, less highly structured approach to IT, which needs to be challenged and realigned, as part of the process of implementing an enterprise cloud strategy.

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Oracle’s research report, Putting cultural transformation at the heart of cloud success, bears this out. Our report highlights how organisational culture can be a barrier to established businesses getting the most out of the cloud. Thirty-three percent of respondents working in IT told us their organisation had an inappropriate IT culture for the cloud computing age, and 95 percent of those working in IT said lines of business investing in cloud technology causes complexity.

Establishing an enterprise cloud strategy is the only way to become a cloud-only business. It provides the technology base which allows businesses to be agiler in their approach to moving workloads between different environments as needed, whether on premise, converged or cloud.

An enterprise cloud strategy also formalises the gathering of real-time customer data to a single location, ready to be analysed and used to gain competitive advantage. This helps eliminate siloes, while centralising financial management to reduce organisational spending on the cloud.

In the end, the most valuable lesson from challenger brands that have built their business solely on the cloud is that this is the only way for companies to be truly responsive, agile, and flexible, meaning they can quickly deliver innovative new services to customers.

But all organisations have the potential to compete with cloud-only challenger brands. To do so, they must realign their business around an enterprise-wide cloud strategy. It is this approach which gives challenger brands the edge to fully focus on a common goal in the most flexible and direct way.

This will foster organization-wide access to all data and technology resources while avoiding the creation of data siloes and duplicate technology purchasing. In a very real sense, then, cloud can be the glue that brings the business together to maximise its potential.