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Building a Cloud Foundation for Innovation

Social, mobile, analytics and cloud make up what we call the SMAC stack, with the cloud piece providing the makings of a bold IT platform strategy. In fact, as enterprises increasingly rely on the use of social outcomes to improve results, mobility to boost efficiency and advanced analytics to enable more intelligent decision making, the potential of cloud technology as a platform for innovation is becoming much too important for companies to ignore.

In a recent survey of 144 business leaders, Wipro found that enterprises putting cloud services to use are able to achieve competitive advantage. For example, 39% of respondents reported an increase in improved decision making and automation of process flows because of cloud services use. Cloud not only helps companies with greater IT flexibility, according to 40% of respondents, and in reducing IT support costs (35% of respondents), but also has emerged as the platform of choice for innovation.

Cloud, much like its metaphoric name, is a natural IT resource breathing new life into application development and diversity. Across the vendor and internal enterprise spectrum, companies seek to differentiate themselves continually. For those early adopters of what Gartner refers to as bimodal IT, or "rock solid IT with ability for fluidity," the advantage of building a cloud platform will be increased agility in support of delivering analytical decision making, mobile portability of workloads, and engineered social acceleration.

Why Does SMAC Matter to the CXO?
CXOs are expanding their capability demands beyond the traditional back-office functionality provided via enterprise resource planning (ERP), project management, business intelligence, customer relationship management (CRM), business process management, enterprise application integration, document management and content management applications.

Cloud as a platform opens up the possibility for business leaders to test new ideas quickly, accessing the necessary software and infrastructure from any combination of internal or external service providers with optimal capital expenditure. Product and service innovation is accelerated for those adopting early; cloud, along with the other elements in the SMAC stack, can increasingly provide businesses with opportunities to streamline and expand their business potential.

In the survey, Wipro found that business leaders believe SMAC is critical to meeting organizational goals as well as furthering innovation. At 54%, more than half of company executives surveyed said they believe cloud technology will be vital to the future development of their organizations, with mobility and analytics coming in at 52% each. Acknowledgement of the presence of digital connections has never been clearer, with no product or offering being complete without having the touch of at least one technology from the SMAC stack. Chief financial officers, chief marketing officers and even chief human resource officers are expanding their budgets for these technologies. Once strapped to traditional ERP systems, executives are endorsing the look and feel of front-end applications with intelligence and scalability out of the cloud.

Indicators of change are on the rise. As per the findings of the survey, 46% of HR leaders and 43% of finance leaders said they plan to make greater use of ERP, messaging and collaboration software as a service (SaaS) offerings. These not only would replace existing platforms, but also would ultimately accelerate the pace at which companies can migrate to the latest functionality -- relying as they would on regular updates from SaaS providers.

Moving organizations forward with more agility, HR leaders are focused on creating enterprise wide engagement for employee performance and productivity; finance is seeking to leverage cloud as a platform for big data and analytics; and CMOs are innovating their CRM systems to provide a connected experience to customers. The CIO will still be influential as other CXOs voice their positions; however, nearly 71% of CXO respondents said their influence in helping to determine their organization's strategic technology direction has risen in recent years. These leaders consider cloud to be the core platform of choice, a cornerstone to adopt disruptive social, mobile and analytics technologies for business success.

The first and most progressive step in the cloud journey is for companies to adopt cloud as the platform of choice for all future business capabilities. SMAC technologies are here, and businesses who realize this are reaping many benefits from this disruptive intersection of technologies.

Bates is the global head of SMAC architecture with the Advanced Technologies & Solutions group at Wipro.

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