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The benefits of hybrid cloud have been clear to many organizations for some time.
Along with the cost efficiency of moving certain workloads to the cloud, hybrid environments allow organizations the flexibility to maintain and better secure data on-premise or scale out as needed.
In many ways, hybrid cloud has become the norm. IDC predicts that more than 80 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud architectures by 2017. But getting real value from hybrid environments isn’t necessarily easy. In fact, many organizations struggle with a deliberate hybrid strategy and with managing their growing IT sprawl.
Getting it right, however, can lead to great payoffs. A new IBM Center for Applied Insights study, “Growing up Hybrid: Accelerating Digital Transformation,” reveals that among those that have embraced hybrid environments, leading organizations report greater competitive advantage and ROI.
Not only are these leaders deliberate about choosing a hybrid blend, but they also use hybrid cloud to power digital transformation — spurring digital business goals and kick-starting next-generation initiatives like the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics and cognitive computing.
Driving more efficiency and productivity benefits
Even at the most basic level, companies that are strategic and deliberate about hybrid adoption manage to get more value from their investments. The study found that 85 percent of hybrid leaders are reporting cost reductions, achieved by shifting some fixed costs to variable costs. And 82 percent of leaders say they’re also improving productivity. While these benefits aren’t surprising, the additional value enjoyed by leading organizations compared with other adopters is remarkable.
Moving up the digital value chain for business growth
Above and beyond the productivity gains, what’s new is the focus on hybrid cloud as an enabler of digital change, by enabling product and service innovation and the ability to expand into new markets and serve new customer segments. These findings demonstrate that hybrid cloud is also key for developers to accelerate development and to seamlessly access data resources and compose-able APIs. With entire industries shifting their focus to digital services, hybrid has emerged as a differentiator: leading companies are four times more likely than the lagging segment to use hybrid cloud for digital services.
Enabling disruption with emerging technologies
But the biggest factor separating leaders from the pack is their use of hybrid cloud to enable forward-looking initiatives. According to Gartner, 40 percent of organizations expect the IoT to transform their business or offer significant new revenue or cost-saving opportunities. Cognitive computing, the use of adaptive learning systems to glean insights and augment business decisions, is another key technology underpinned by hybrid, with as many as five times as many leaders using hybrid to jump start cognitive efforts.
While many organizations already use hybrid cloud, not all enjoy the full extent of its benefits. As the study makes clear, companies need a deliberate strategy that maximizes existing infrastructure and as-a-service technologies to gain greater visibility into their organizations — a critical requirement to getting the best business outcomes from hybrid adoption and an enabler for business. The use of advanced hybrid cloud management technologies including sophisticated analytics and security are also essential to fast track competitive advantage.
This story first appeared on the IBM Center for Applied Insights blog and Forbes.