CIO Jury: Two-thirds of tech leaders use industry cloud services

Industry cloud vendors can offer more specialized services for businesses, according to our panel of tech leaders.
Written by Alison DeNisco Rayome, Managing Editor

With the majority of organizations moving business-critical applications and processes to the cloud, many are beginning to move outside of cloud giants like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, and toward industry cloud services and vendors, according to a TechRepublic CIO Jury poll.

Industry cloud services operate within a vertical space, focusing on specialized processes with tools, technologies, and business services tailored to a specific industry, and are managed by vendors that aim to understand the specific needs of a given industry. 

SEE: Cloud providers 2019: A buyer's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

We polled TechRepublic's CIO Jury to learn more about the spread of industry cloud. When asked "Is your organization using industry cloud services?", eight tech leaders said yes, while four said no.

"We use industry cloud services and we have engaged clients in more industry-based cloud solutions," said Kris Seeburn, an independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher. "We have observed closely as well that, to capture this growth, cloud vendors have increasingly shifted their horizontal capabilities to form industry cloud solutions, while industry clouds themselves have created consortiums of collaboration to drive industry innovation."

Healthcare has led other verticals toward this trend, with finance, manufacturing, and retail catching up, Seeburn said, and they are learning from their successes and failures in the cloud space to find the best path. 

"Despite the telecommunications challenges we face due to geography, industry cloud vendors are key to delivering digital banking services," said John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services at Coast Central Credit Union. "This includes internet and mobile banking, personal financial management, bill pay, account-to-account and person-to-person payments, and remote deposit capture. This has become the standard delivery mechanism in financial services." 

SEE: Hybrid cloud: A guide for IT pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Michael Hanken, vice president of IT at Multiquip Inc., said his organization uses a vertically integrated e-commerce solution. 

Simon Johns, IT director for Sheppard Robson Architects LLP, said his firm uses a number of architectural- and construction-specific services to help with collaboration and operating within its supply chain. 

"Cloud-based SaaS products are a recent phenomenon in the legal industry, and finally are bringing a much-needed transformation to a lagging vertical," said Shawn Lehocky, chief strategy officer at Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano. "In the past few years, we have implemented a cloud-based product called Litify, which has transformed our entire operation. For the first time ever, we have seamlessly integrated all aspects of our business and now have the ability to use structured data as an asset to make quick informed decisions."

In the education space, Concord University has recently implemented systems using industry cloud vendors to assist with managing the school's admissions department and upcoming student health center. "We benefit from the products being uniquely well designed for their specific purpose and with legal/regulation compliance," said Chuck Elliott, vice president of IT and CIO of Concord University. "We find them to be costly to our smaller budgets but we appreciate the value they bring." 

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra also uses industry cloud services, said Daniel Spees, director of information services for the orchestra. Spees said this is because of "ease of implementation compared to trying to bring up the same service in our Azure or AWS space." Some examples of the industry cloud services the orchestra uses include ZendeskWorkfrontAdaptive Insights, ADP Workforce Now, Artsvision, and Inspired e-Learning.

Among those organizations that do not use industry cloud services, "the level of benefits offered by such solutions must overcome the risks and costs associated with the vendor lock-in," said Flo Albu, chief digital strategist at Utility Computing Ltd. "This, coupled with a traditional risk adversity across the utility/energy sector, means that as far as levels of adoption are concerned, I can see these solutions still in an incipient stage," Albu said.

For more information, check out Why it's a good time to find an 'Industry Cloud' dance partner on ZDNet. 

This month's CIO Jury included: 

  • Chuck Elliott, vice president of IT and CIO, Concord University
  • Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO, Community Health Alliance
  • Craig Lurey, CTO and co-founder, Keeper Security
  • Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
  • Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.
  • Shawn Lehocky, chief strategy officer, Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano
  • Jeff Focke, director of IT, Shealy Electrical Wholesalers
  • John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union
  • Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher
  • Flo Albu, chief digital strategist, Utility Computing Ltd.
  • Madhushan Gokool, IT and data protection manager, Storm Model Management
  • Daniel Spees, director of information services, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, email alison dot rayome at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

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