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Cloud Maturity: How Ready Are You for a Move to the Cloud?

More than 90 percent of enterprises use at least one cloud-based application—and why not? Cloud computing offers cost reductions and efficiencies that are a draw for businesses of any size.

But for too many businesses, that shift begins and ends with the impact on budget. The “Cloud Maturity Index 2015”—new research from market research company Radar and IT security company Tieto—found that a vast majority of companies are missing out. Just one in 10 companies are “cloud mature,” a reflection of how deeply a company has adopted cloud into its strategic and operational plans.

With cloud computing on track to keep growing, how can a business tap into the full benefits that come with it? Here’s a look at what that 10 percent is doing differently.

What is Cloud Maturity?

Integrating cloud-based services like software-as-a-service (SaaS), processing, and data management can certainly reduce costs, but it can also increase speed and agility.

IDC defines cloud maturity as “the point in an organization’s cloud transformation when it starts to reap real business benefits that go beyond IT efficiencies or [total cost of ownership] considerations. This includes developing net-new sources of revenue; engaging more deeply across employees, partners and customers; and using a more strategic and collaborative approach to IT that drives new value and greater competitive advantage.”

Based on the Cloud Maturity Index survey, Radar and Tieto identified that cloud mature organizations:

-Spend twice as much on cloud-based services. “Their use of cloud services is also wider and deeper than in other     organizations.”

-“Prioritize cloud services more highly” than other organizations.

-Have a strategy for their use of cloud services, and “have conducted a cloud analyses of their existing IT profile.”

-“See considerably more drivers for using the cloud,” and are ready to take advantage of them.

Moving to a mature cloud strategy can drive business innovation, but it takes strong collaboration between IT and line-of-business components to do it successfully.

Obstacles in the Way of Cloud Maturity

Considering the benefits cloud solutions bring to the table—like improved long-term management of IT assets, scalability, flexibility, and productivity—the cost of underusing cloud could be huge. But the implementation of cloud computing isn’t without its hurdles and legitimate concerns.

Most organizations fail to tie cloud adoption to business objectives. Instead, they use cloud only to fulfill short-term needs to reduce costs, failing to see the broader potential. That’s a major oversight.

Other concerns like privacy, security, and legal compliance are common, even among mature cloud users. However, with cloud poised to become “the dominant model for the delivery of IT services,” according to IBM, addressing these issues can’t come at the expense of business growth or evolution.

Is Your Business Ready for the Move Up?

To leverage real value from cloud services, an organization needs to figure out its current level of maturity, then take steps to move up the adoption curve. “Mapping the Cloud Maturity Curve,” a joint report by IBM and The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, outlined five fundamental elements of a mature cloud strategy:

1. A strategy that aligns business goals with the potential of cloud-based services.

2. Collaboration across the entire business—especially with IT.

3. Corporate culture that embraces technology.

4. Infrastructure that can adapt to and embrace cloud technology.

5. Solid governance and best practices.

IBM has also released a tool to help organizations evaluate where they sit on the curve through a series of questions.

In the not-so-distant future, an organization’s ability to leverage cloud technology to its fullest potential will have a direct impact on its success. This is why businesses need to go beyond basic cloud adoption and build strategies to move to the next level. Cloud maturity is the yardstick to achieve this goal, and a factor businesses need to take seriously.