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Cloud’s next leap

Cloud-driven digital plays can create transformational business value.

A common business story has emerged over the course of the pandemic: COVID-19 has provided a burning platform to accelerate digital transformation. Our own research indicates the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation at 59% of surveyed organizations. Some sources even cite a 6-year acceleration—with huge budget increases to support it and to build the infrastructure it requires: cloud computing.

But is this narrative the complete picture? Are enterprises accelerating their digital transformation agendas along with their adoption of cloud computing? And are those investments returning the business value enterprises expected? What is the current state of cloud-powered digital transformation?

79% of stakeholders say their highest priority digital plays require comprehensive, advanced cloud capabilities.

To answer these questions, the IBM Institute for Business Value, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, surveyed almost 7,200 C-suite executives across 28 industries and 47 countries. What we found confirmed many things that our direct experience with organizations making the cloud journey had suggested. But there were also a few surprises.

Our findings can help your organization take stock of its cloud adoption strategies and investments. If you are achieving the business benefits you expected, should you consider your cloud adoption efforts complete? On the other hand, if you’re struggling to realize your cloud vision, are you on the wrong path, or just on a more ambitious journey?

Cloud-driven digital transformation delivers business value: Top digital plays are delivering performance improvements.

Cloud-driven digital transformation delivers business value: Top digital plays are delivering positive, transformational performance improvements.Evolving versions of cloud computing

Our experience with organizations adopting cloud reveals that, while they are all moving to the cloud, they are often moving to different versions of it. From work with clients around the world and across industries we are discerning four versions of cloud, each of which presents distinct value propositions and involves distinct types of stakeholders.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to them as cloud versions 1-4.

  • Cloud v1: Buying and selling computing as a service, paying only for services actually consumed

  • Cloud v2: Purchasing cloud services with a credit card swipe from hyperscale cloud providers

  • Cloud v3: The current enterprise movement to cloud as the default model for application, compute, and networking

  • Cloud v4: An emerging version that becomes the default operational infrastructure for business transformation

Download the report to learn how the emerging version of cloud is helping companies accelerate digital transformation and drive business value. 


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Meet the authors

Howard Boville

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, Senior Vice President and Head of IBM Cloud


Hillery Hunter

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, IBM Fellow, General Manager of Industry Clouds, and CTO, IBM Cloud


Richard Warrick

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, Global Research Leader, Cloud, IBM Institute for Business Value

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Originally published 22 October 2021