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Why You Need To Adopt A Cloud First Strategy Now

by Glenn Hicks on October 8, 2019
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The cloud has become the foundation that enables businesses to transform, differentiate and gain a competitive advantage.

This statement from Gartner illustrates why the market for cloud-based services — including software-as-a-service (SaaS) — is continuing to grow so quickly. Forty percent of organizations in North America plan to spend the majority of new or additional funding on the cloud, according to a recent Gartner survey.

Here’s what CIOs and other IT professionals need to know about how to create and implement a cloud first strategy.

Why do I need a cloud first strategy?

The market for cloud services

The worldwide market for cloud services is projected to grow 80%, from $182 billion in revenue to $331 billion by 2022, according to the most recent Gartner research.

Cloud application services (also known as SaaS) represent a significant portion of that growth, with revenue growth also on track to increase by 80% in that same time period.

More than a third of organizations see cloud investments as a top three priority, which impacts the market’s offerings. By the end of the year, Gartner expects more than 30 percent of technology providers’ new software investments to shift from cloud-first to cloud-only.

The cost and complexity of on-premise software

That means demand for and availability of license-based, on-premise software solutions will continue to plummet while SaaS solutions become the new norm.

And there’s good reason for that. Traditional on-premise software is expensive to maintain and update, difficult to scale and does not easily integrate with many modern SaaS solutions. By contrast, cloud-based solutions reduce complexity and streamline operations, which accelerates speed to market and gives companies a competitive advantage.

And when you are able to cut costs, the savings can be reallocated to other IT initiatives like extending security and other technology priorities.

A cloud first strategy is the future

“Cloud services are definitely shaking up the industry,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “At Gartner, we know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategy in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three times the growth of overall IT services.”

How to develop a cloud first strategy

By 2025, Gartner predicts 55% of large organizations will implement a cloud-only strategy.

While that may be the eventual goal, it’s often easier for large organizations to start with a commitment to implementing a cloud first strategy.

A cloud first strategy is an organizational commitment to evaluate cloud-based solutions before considering other alternatives. Unlike a cloud-only strategy, it doesn’t entirely eliminate other solutions, which allows for a greater level of flexibility.

In a whitepaper on cloud strategy leadership, Gartner offers the following recommendations:

Start with the business objectives

Moving to a cloud first strategy simply because it’s a growing trend likely won’t be enough to convince your executive team.

Consider what your business objectives are and what you hope to gain from cloud migration. Then determine which key stakeholders need to be involved, which cloud first strategy is best for your organization, and how you’ll measure the outcome.

In a recent TechTarget survey of 600 IT professionals, 47% said their primary reason for pursuing digital transformation (including a shift toward cloud applications and a cloud first strategy) was to streamline operations and improve internal efficiency. That was tied with another closely related priority: improving employee performance and productivity.

Both are fundamental to achieving their third most pressing priority: enhancing the customer experience.

Ensure cloud security

It’s a myth that moving to the cloud means compromising security. Gartner predicts that through 2020, public cloud infrastructure workloads will have 60% fewer security incidents than traditional data centers.

However, the assumption that everything in the cloud is 100% protected is also a myth. IT leaders still need to take steps to safeguard data and ensure employees are using best practices.

Develop cloud-savvy talent

In a 2016 Gartner survey, IT professionals said the cloud would have the single largest technology impact on their careers. And as one Forbes article put it, "Hybrid and multi-cloud environments call for multifaceted talent."

Adopting a cloud first strategy requires hiring and retaining individuals with a new set of skills, including:

  • Knowledge of cloud architecture and deployment
  • Expertise in cloud security
  • An understanding of how the cloud impacts data and analytics
  • Experience with Internet of Things (IoT) applications, including sensors
  • Experience with SaaS deployments

Take a multi-departmental approach

In addition to possessing the right technical skills, the ideal candidate also needs to be able to collaborate effectively with leaders, teams, and individual employees across the organization.

Technology leaders will be the ones determining piece-by-piece where it makes sense to roll out new initiatives as they implement a cloud first strategy across key applications and solutions. This can be done gradually, but it also requires IT leaders to get buy-in from decision makers, often the company's executive leadership, as well as from department heads and from the solution's end users.

Work together with the different functions in your organization — for instance, you may need to bring facilities, finance, human resources, workplace experience, together to develop a full picture of how to boost user adoption and maximize cost savings. This will help you fully understand how your cloud first strategy can be optimized to meet the needs and goals of each department within your organization.

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The future is in the cloud

The future of IT clearly points upward. When you consider how quickly things change — both in the business world and with the evolution of technology — it's critical to keep up and not rely on yesterday's strategies.

Cloud-based storage is more agile, scalable, efficient, and better for the bottom line. And cloud-based applications position organizations to embrace what Gartner refers to as the “continuous next” — the future we can’t yet anticipate, but must be prepared for. 

A cloud first strategy reduces the cost businesses spend on software, infrastructure, and platforms. That's why a cloud first strategy is a top priority for business leaders around the globe, in a variety of industries, in companies of all sizes. 

iOFFICE’s workplace management software was built as a 100% cloud-based solution from the beginning. This keeps the total cost of ownership manageable for IT professionals and allows them to easily integrate with other technology applications, reducing complexity and improving efficiency.

To see how iOFFICE compares to other workplace management software solutions, download the most recent Verdantix product report.

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