The top trends shaping the face of cloud services by 2020

A Gartner analyst claims many firms will lose their market positions through digital incompetence in the next few years - but understanding the future of technology will swing this around.

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Charlie Osborne | ZDNet

TORONTO, CANADA: The face of cloud and IT is going to change rapidly in the next five years, and the enterprise needs to respond now to maintain their market positions in the future.

Speaking to attendees at the Asigra Cloud Backup Summit held in Toronto, Canada, Tiffani Bova, Vice President & Sales Strategies analyst at Gartner said the cloud market is transforming and it is up to companies to use this to advantage -- or be left by the wayside.

Cloud technology is used for a variety of purposes, including data analysis, backup, storage and as a way to offer Software as a Service (SaaS). The enterprise uses a range of on-premises, off-premises and hybrid cloud solutions -- and as a relatively new industry, cloud is rising in popularity every year.

However, Bova believes the evolution of cloud is far from over, there are a number of key themes which will shape the face of cloud by 2020.

1. Cloud has become the platform for the next transition: Instead of being the "end state" and on-premise solution for business services and operations, Bova believes the cloud will transition into the "new place to begin," and will become less about technology and more about business transformation.

The face of cloud is expected to change into a hybrid IT solution which will be delivered as a service for traditional IT, private, public and hybrid cloud solutions - with end users behaving more like service providers as a result.

In addition, Bova says cloud technology will eventually become an agile, scalable, cost-effective platform for next-generation businesses based on mobile, social and Big Data.

2. By 2017, 75 percent of IT organizations will have a bimodel capability -- and half will make a mess trying to maintain this balance: As companies adopt cloud computing, they will face an issue -- how to maintain operations and "keep the lights on while trying to innovate." In other words, Bova says in order to be flexible and deliver a range of needs, businesses will work on two speeds; using cloud technology to innovate while maintaining a price-for-performance model to keep consumers happy.

3. Digital business incompetence will cause a quarter of organizations to lose their market position by 2017: The Gartner analyst believes every company in the world is in "some way" an IT company - but while firms work on expanding cloud products and services, they need to remember the focus is on business. However, Bova thinks many within the enterprise are destined to make a mess of this, and will lose their market positions in the next few years as a result.

4. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be the driving force behind business and technological change for the foreseeable future: The Internet of Things, the concept behind connected devices and networks, is expected to drive cloud computing forward in the next five years. However, companies should remember that data for data's sake doesn't do any good - and so adopting cloud technology should happen with a focus on analysis and refining corporate practices and plans.

5. The most important, disruptive thing in the cloud market today is not actually technology -- but rather the customer: The Internet and mobile technology have changed the level of power consumers wield -- and this goes beyond e-commerce. Often, consumers will have independently researched the products they want before contacting vendors, and so corporations cannot own a buyer's journey as they used to. As a result, cloud service providers must improve the customer experience and seek out new ways to maintain their client pool.

5. Technology is altering competitive forces and moving success from products to customer experience innovations: Following on from the above transition, Bova says the "experience economy" will drive companies forward in the future. Customer purchase decisions will be made based on experience, brand value or the promise of what products can do -- rather than sales pitches and price -- and so thereby create a connection between business and consumer. It is up to the enterprise to maintain this relationship to keep revenue flowing.

6. Every interaction, touch point makes an impression: Trust and strong lines of communication are required for any relationship between business and consumer, and can pave the way for cloud firms to maximise the value of existing investments. The fundamentals of sales strategies are based in the 1800's, but for cloud companies to grow and expand their client bases, they must break away from tradition and invest in new training, commission plans and organizational structures.

"We have only touched the surface of what the ecosystem will deliver in the future," Bova says. "It is up to business leaders to understand the impact market forces will have on sales strategies in the future ecosystem."

Finally, the analyst believes the mix of partner types will look very different in the future -- and their added value, development and IP will be the differentiator. Future investments with an eye towards to the evolving needs of customer demands will succeed -- and what makes a firm different, from how cloud solutions are packaged up to the consumer experience -- will decide a company's future market position.

Disclaimer: Attendance at the conference was sponsored by Asigra.

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