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Using the cloud as a platform for innovation

On-demand IT provides a strong base from which the business can test, develop and roll out creative solutions

The threat of disruption means CIOs and their c-suite peers are under more pressure than ever before to develop creative solutions to business challenges.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of companies around the world believe they are exposed to digital disruption today, according to Tech Research Asia. Such is the threat of change that 61 per cent of these firms are taking affirmative action and trying to disrupt new or current markets.

The potential for disruption is directly related to the ability of a business to make the most of digital technology. Successful firms, like Uber and Airbnb, use digital technology to deliver new types of customer service. Businesses looking to create a similar disruption must be able to move quickly.

That is where fleet-of-foot start-ups have a distinct advantage. Such nascent firms are able to make agile business decisions as they are unencumbered by pervious IT purchasing decisions.

The reality is often different in traditional blue-chip enterprises, where CIOs and their business counterparts have to contend with a considerable IT legacy. In fact, research suggests the average IT application is 20 years old.

It is already tough enough to try and meet the clamour for innovation in a world of fast-changing customer requirements. But trying to create IT-led change on decades-old equipment is a complete non-starter. So what is the alternative?

Smart CIOs and their c-suite counterparts are waking up to the power of on-demand IT. Researcher Forrester says we are entering a new stage of the cloud, where executives can run entire business ecosystems on-demand.

Executives at these leading-edge firms are breaking their reliance on legacy platforms and using on-demand IT to support new business ideas. Hotel group glh is already at this stage. The firm does not run any in-house servers and 95 per cent of IT services are delivered through the cloud.

Tom Reuner, managing director at HfS Research, says these advanced businesses are entering a new stage of maturity, where conversations about cloud focus on agility and workload. Cloud becomes a platform for change, where CIOs can add new tools - such as analytics and automation - as new business needs arise.

Take Omid Shiraji, interim CIO at Camden Council, who is working on a phased transition to the cloud. On-demand IT provides a scalable platform to help his organisation test new, citizen-focused projects in key technology areas, like data science and the Internet of Things.

New digital developments continue to disrupt organisations in all sectors. The great news is that legacy IT does not have to be a hindrance. CIOs who are open to the cloud can create a scalable platform for lasting and successful change.

[references]

Disruption research by Tech Research Asia:

https://www.telstraglobal.com/insights/news/newsitem/telstra-study-shows-legacy-technology-holding-up-the-innovation-agenda

Research on legacy apps:

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-cfo-imperative-leveraging-the-cloud-for-business-innovation-and-growth/

Forrester on cloud:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/three-things-to-remember-when-moving-to-the-cloud-in-2016/

Tom Reuner on cloud:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/cloud-computing-whats-coming-next/

Omid Shiraji at Camden:

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450302094/CIO-interview-Omid-Shiraji-interim-CIO-Camden-Council

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