Public Cloud Computing Required? Fast-Tracking the Digital Enterprise

By | Jul 7, 2014

What is the digital enterprise? Joe McKendrick of Forbes says it is "associated with the design, development and delivery of innovative products and services through online channels." In other words, taking what is best about a business and moving it online, transforming it from brick and mortar to bytes and mobile. Private and public cloud computing speeds this process, in effect giving midsize companies access to the fast track. But is a true digital enterprise even possible without the cloud?

Critically Speaking

According to McKendrick's recent Forbes piece, while the cloud and digital enterprise easily go hand-in-hand, one is not dependent on the other. The article reveals the findings of a Saugatuck Technology survey, which found that 60 percent of businesses are creating new digital products and services while 70 percent are adapting existing services to work within a digital framework. But only 29 percent of respondents said the majority of their business apps and infrastructure reside in the cloud. It is possible, therefore, to chase the digital business model without significant cloud backing.

Saugatuck Analyst Bruce Guptill notes, "Enterprises are still very early in the life cycle of digital business, with much left to learn and experience regarding how it is accomplished and how its success is measured." The high mark of digital success today, therefore, may be the middle ground in just a few years when the company predicts 63 percent of businesses will leverage a significant amount of public cloud computing resources. Bottom line? Digital businesses are in uncharted territory, and while the cloud can help since it is an experienced traveler, there is no road map here. Success does not have a single definition.

Digital Transformation

It is possible, however, to make some educated guesses about what a digital-enabled market will look like. In a June 29 ZDNet article, author Michael Krigsman rounded up some of the most pertinent digital business infographics. Included was research data from Accenture, which showed that high-growth companies relied more heavily on data, analytics, digital channels and the customer experience. Predictions from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), meanwhile, pointed to improved product release cycles, business operations support, customer data protection and revenue recognition as a result of the digital transformation. PwC's model has the digital shift impacting business as a whole, not simply IT department efficacy and customer satisfaction levels.

How does midsize IT benefit from the new focus on the digital enterprise? By taking the fast track. Private, hybrid and public cloud computing deployments already in the business pipeline are the perfect candidates to help speed the digital transition, supplying a safe place to make necessary missteps and a kind of overflow buffer in the event of a digital disaster. Make no mistake: It is possible to go all-digital without setting foot in the cloud. But it is like taking a road trip rather than a plane ride — risk exists in both cases, but staying grounded is noticeably slower.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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