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Five trends to watch if you want your business to grow at speed

Cloud Is the Engine of Ingenuity

Contrary to conventional wisdom, we are not entering a new era of technology. We're already there. We are living in the midst of one of the most disruptive periods in enterprise IT, and cloud is the leading catalyst. There are several trends marking this dramatic transition in 2017, five of which warrant close scrutiny.

1. Public cloud use continues to grow at hyper-scale
A global survey from Accenture of nearly 1,900 executives across 15 industries reveals massive growth in public cloud. In the study, four out of five executives indicated that they intend to move more of their operations to the cloud within the next several years.

Despite common misconceptions that public cloud leaves companies more vulnerable than private cloud, business leaders are seeing the light. While our survey revealed that security is still a concern among executives, more than 80% believe public cloud is more secure and transparent than their own systems.

2. Speed and agility are outpacing cost savings as top business objectives
Tighter security isn't the only consideration for companies considering a move to public cloud. For many business leaders, the promise of greater agility is becoming a major draw. According to a survey from IDG Research Services, 78% of executives "want to pick up the pace" of migration.

In fact, executives say agility gives them an edge over the competition, allowing them to stay ahead of digital disruption in their market. They see cloud as a clear path toward achieving their targets. A sweeping majority of respondents - 83% - said agility "is critical or very important in measuring the success of their investments."

Businesses also view agility as a way to engineer ideas more quickly. The IDG study shows that 80% of executives place speed far above compliance and regulatory concerns. An even larger majority - 89% - say cloud is a way to "leverage innovation through agility."

Clearly, enterprises see that speed is essential as they become saddled with the costs of maintaining both traditional and cloud modes of compute. They're finding that agility is a critical asset on the path of reconciling the price between migration and standing up a new cloud environment.

3. We're entering the post-infrastructure era, leading with a serverless architecture
Taking a broad view of where enterprises are today and where they're headed, we believe we're entering a new era where the approach to technical infrastructure changes dramatically. These changes are as much technical as they are commercial and cultural. Most important, this shift coincides with a sea change in the economic equation of technology, which takes the tradition of CapEx spending to an entirely OpEx model based on actual consumption.

As businesses understand this transition and pivot accordingly, they must dispel the myth that within a cloud environment they're essentially leasing time, which is far costly. The reality is that a public cloud model increases agility, giving teams more time and resources to focus on higher business priorities (outcomes).

What we're seeing as a result is that cloud allows companies to purchase compute for the valleys rather than the peaks. Where businesses may have once been content running operations 24/7, IT schedules are moving toward a model in which compute boxes operate as needed, whether 9 to 5 or by the transaction. Organizations are controlling IT costs with work done in hours, days or weeks, also signaling a shift from passive management (based on reports and workflow) to active management (based on automation, self-service, standardization and dynamic controls). This offers organizations the flexibility to dial IT services up and down as needed - controlling environments minute to minute, day to day.

We believe these operational and budgetary trends are merely the tipping point for the next 10 years. We're seeing a wholesale shift in the market as we enter the post-infrastructure era, with evolving technology such as serverless architecture changing the game dramatically.

Serverless computing is an important step toward the full realization of cloud because it allows companies to fully embrace DevOps and Agile processes. Applications become more flexible. Discrete functions become integrated and can be leveraged at the precise moment they're needed. This type of architecture is part evolution and part revolution and eliminates the need for acquiring hard assets on your cement - as you design applications to render an outcome as needed and only pay by the micro-second. The impact to an organization's agility and cost profile are profound. It also improves performance significantly and leads to greater advantages around application design.

4. New roles are emerging in the IT space.
Among its many benefits, cloud frees up headcount and changes the very nature of an IT organization. Your technology people are now free to focus more on business outcomes - however comfortable or uncomfortable that may be. However, many members of the C-suite are concerned that their workforce may lack the skills to fully embrace these trends. In our survey, roughly four out of five executives said that their in-house IT staff may have insufficient expertise to play a role in as-a-Service purchases. At the same time, 88% of these executives said that IT should participate in these transactions. To help bridge this gap, 92% of organizations have a formal IT service broker role (or are planning to establish one).

Simultaneously, more companies are realizing the benefits of partnering with a Global Systems Integrator (GSI). According to the IDG survey, 90% of cloud-first companies have employed GSIs to expedite their cloud strategy and migration, supplementing in-house expertise.

Still, many organizations are realizing a broader partnership strategy may be in order. Global companies that have teamed up with boutique firms on small-scale migrations are hitting a wall when it's time to move on to more complex workloads. Scale and complexity are driving enterprises to seek a global partner that can help extract maximum value and speed while minimizing costs.

In the meantime, the S in GSI is taking on new meaning. The GSI is becoming less relevant as a systems integrator and increasingly taking on the role of a service integrator. The GSI of tomorrow offers functions and capabilities that come from a platform such as Amazon, Azure and Google, integrating services along the way, and charges on an outcome basis.

5. To be first, think cloud first
It's our profound belief that for enterprises of any size to achieve their goals in the years ahead, they must take a cloud-first approach. Cloud-first organizations learn best practices, helping to smooth and accelerate the transition for those following in their footsteps.

The IDG survey reveals that companies with a cloud-first mentality are among the first to achieve their business goals, including greater scalability, tangible cost savings, deeper customer experiences and heightened agility.

We're seeing a multitude of global companies across a broad economic spectrum embrace a cloud-first philosophy. These organizations leverage cloud to bring applications, infrastructure and business processes together, delivered as-a-Service. They view cloud as a true enabler of digital innovation, and they are upfront about the guidance they need to move even faster on their journey.

By taking steps to align their cloud and business strategies and to involve IT more directly in cloud decision-making, companies will be better positioned on this cloud journey while the as-a-Service economy matures.

More Stories By Michael Liebow

Michael Liebow is global managing director for Accenture Cloud Platform, a secure, scalable, enterprise-ready cloud integration system that provides management and control over hybrid cloud services. He manages the largest portion of Accenture's cloud investment, myriad ecosystem partners and a 400-person global team to build and operate a cloud platform business.

Michael thrives on big, disruptive transformations in large complex organizations or markets. He is well versed on new technologies in the social, mobile, analytic and cloud space and how to apply them for business advantage. He has consistently shown a knack for locating the strategic kernel in any asset. He learned his trade during the many years spent in the packaged goods industry before tech. This made him uniquely able to listen to markets and expertly able to package technology for broad consumption as well as introduce entirely new tech to market.

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