A recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services has discovered companies that move aggressively to adopt cloud services are gaining a competitive advantage by increasing business agility and reducing system complexity.The report included responses from over 500 Harvard Business Review readers who work in large and mid-sized companies in a variety of industries worldwide.

According to the study, 70 percent of participants had already adopted the cloud and 35 percent of those adopters “are very aggressively moving forward wherever it makes sense.” Among those companies that had already begun to implement cloud technology, 37 percent reported that it had simplified internal operations. Other respondents said they experienced better delivery of internal resources and increased collaboration between employees. More than half of aggressive adopters reported seeing significant advantages from the cloud.

The report also found that the use of cloud technology helps businesses to expand their operations. Of adopters classified as aggressive, 49 percent reported having entered a new market in the last three years. Of the companies cautiously adopting the cloud, 36 percent had done the same.

Businesses see multiple benefits from cloud adoption
When it came to reasons for adopting the cloud, 32 percent of all respondents reported an increase in business agility as the top factor for their transition. Among aggressive adopters, the number rose to 41 percent.

“Not even the cautious adopters led with ‘it really saves money,'” said Angelia Herrin, research director for HBR, according to CIO. “If you’re stuck on using new technologies like cloud just to save money, you’re really losing out. Agility leads to being able to do things like enter new markets, improved productivity and improved responsiveness to clients.”

Other drivers toward cloud adoption reported in the survey were increased innovation, lower costs and the ability to scale to demand.

Herrin noted that the companies who have been able to successfully leverage the cloud all seem to have CIOs that are willing and able to drive change in the enterprise.

“We’re really seeing companies that are making big impacts have a lot of involvement from the top,” said Herrin. “I think the conversation about technology is one where the companies that are moving fast and really experiencing digital transformation have a CEO that is really embracing it and pushing it. Those companies who say technology is an advantage for them also say that their CIOs don’t just have a seat at the table, they’re helping to lead the charge.”

Cloud services level the playing field 
Investment in cloud technologies is beneficial to companies of all sizes, but can also help small enterprises compete on more equal ground with larger firms. With the increased business agility the cloud offers, smaller companies can respond more quickly to change and accomplish work faster and with more accuracy, helping to reduce time to market.

With help from a knowledgeable partner, enterprises can avoid costly infrastructure replacements, security and compliance mistakes and expensive server sprawl. Utilizing colocation and cloud services allow in house IT professionals to have priorities that are more aligned with a company’s specific business goals, putting the organization in a better position to grow.