Two years ago the primary reason for moving to the cloud was cutting costs. But a new study of 500 global business executives conducted by KPMG finds that while cost is still the primary factor, agility and productivity are now playing a much bigger role in driving the cloud adoption.
Just about half (49%) of the respondents in 2014 cited cost efficiencies as major use case driving cloud adoption; which compares to 48 percent in the 2012 survey KPMG conducted.
But the 2014 survey also finds that the number of executives citing the enablement of a flexible and mobile workforce (42%) and improving alignment and interaction with customers, suppliers and business partners (37%) has increased substantially over what KPMG discovered in its 2012 survey.
When it comes to enabling a mobile workforce, executives who cited this benefit said increased employee productivity (54 percent) and higher employee satisfaction and flexibility (48 percent) are the top two benefits of using the cloud.
That suggests that rather than viewing cloud computing as an alternative form of IT outsourcing, business executives are starting to appreciate the impact cloud computing can have on their business operations. For example, most businesses today are trying to get closer to their customer. A big part of that effort is increased reliance on mobile devices access applications in the cloud to remove latency from business processes. From an IT perspective, mobile and cloud computing wind up essentially becoming two sides of the same coin because mobile computing can’t really make an impact on the business without the cloud applications and services that make it possible.
The biggest issue that business executives have with moving business processes is, of course, security. The KPMG study finds that 50 percent of survey respondents say the risk of intellectual property theft is the most significant challenge to doing business in the cloud, followed by data loss and privacy risk, which were both cited by 45 percent.
The good news is that those numbers actually represent a substantial improvement over 2012. In 2012, 78 percent of executives identified intellectual property theft a challenge, and the 83 percent that named data loss and privacy risk as a challenge.
Arguably, data in the cloud may be safer, or at least just as safe, as it is running on premise. As the recent security breach at Sony Pictures shows, hackers don’t much care where the data is stored. And while there have been some high profile breaches of cloud services aimed at consumers, cloud services aimed at business users can make a case for having a better security track record and skills than internal IT staffs managing a local data center. But no matter how you look at it, IT security is clearly becoming an issue that transcends cloud computing alone.
In the meantime, starting with the adoption of the PC, history of IT is littered with examples of where productivity benefits trumped security concerns; and at this point it’s highly unlikely that cloud computing will prove to be an exception to that IT rule.