Cloud services are stepping stones to high-level business advantages for many, survey shows

Success in Software as a Service comes from strong, strategic partnerships with their IT departments, IBM survey also finds.

The initial lure of Software as a Service is its relatively low adoption cost. However, organizations setting the pace with cloud adoption recognize that SaaS is but a stepping stone to much greater things -- such as collaboration and analytical power. And enlightened enterprises look to their IT leaders for guidance in the cloud journey.

Data Center at CERN 2 -photo courtesy of CERN Press Office
Photo: CERN press office

These are some of the key takeaways from a recent survey of 879 executives, conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights. Executives state that reducing costs was the main reason they got into SaaS, and 41 percent say they have reached that goal.

A greater number – 47 percent – say SaaS serves as their gateway to competitive advantage. The report's authors, Craig Hayman,  Susanne Hupfer, Ph.D., and Alison Fetherstonhaugh -- all with IBM -- took a close look at what they call the "pacesetters" -- those companies with high levels of SaaS adoption who are also seeing competitive advantage with their engagements. Their more laggard counterparts tend to be motivated by cost savings in SaaS adoption, while the pacesetters see SaaS as a tool to improve internal and external collaboration, as well as better serve their markets.

Another important distinction emerges between the pacesetters and laggards: their IT departments are full partners in the cloud adoption, deployment and management process.  "A popular belief is that SaaS – with its ease of purchase and deployment – requires little involvement from IT organizations. But that’s not the case for pacesetters, who attest to strong collaboration between line of business and IT on matters ranging from directing to securing SaaS solutions," the authors write. "For example, LOB and IT strongly collaborate on SaaS selection and deployment in 71 percent of pacesetter organizations, while only 36 percent of [laggards] benefit from those combined perspectives."

In addition, 70 percent of the pacesetters "find that SaaS is strengthening the IT and LOB relationship, compared to only 39 percent of [laggard] organizations enjoying that benefit. Over 65 percent of pacesetters actually describe the IT and LOB relationship as a 'strategic partnership,' versus less than a third of [laggards] holding that belief."

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