Study: Cloud transformation necessary for digital transformation

COVID-19 is driving companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts, and that's spurring greater cloud adoption.

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Cloud migration is a necessary step for digital transformation, which is proceeding faster than planned at many enterprises because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research from Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), a cloud computing organization based in the United Kingdom.

The cloud is an important steppingstone for getting off legacy on-prem technologies and outfitting today's more flexible, remote workforce. Supporting a remote workforce requires a digital transformation, and to do that, companies need the cloud – public, private, or hybrid. CIF found that in many sectors, remaining productive during lockdown depended on their cloud-readiness.

Migrating to the cloud has delivered results for more than 90% of organizations during the past year, according to the CIF research. In addition, 91% of decision makers said that cloud formed an important part of their digital transformation, with 40% saying the role of the cloud was crucial.

COVID-19 has been a significant driver. A majority of organizations (69%) have sped up their as digital transformation plans in some way as a result of the pandemic, according to the research.

"On the whole, organizations did a commendable job of adapting in the face of an unprecedented situation; it is safe to say that many have been pleasantly surprised at how successful the shift to remote working has been. Benefits that might not have been so obvious beforehand have been recognized, giving many organizations a powerful platform to improve their long-term processes for the better," said Alex Hilton, CEO of Cloud Industry Forum, in a statement.

Market research firm Vanson Bourne conducted the survey of UK-based IT and business decision-makers, and results can be found in the white paper, "Adapt, Innovate, Advance: Digital Transformation in the Covid-19 era." 

While the findings are based on UK survey respondents, the results could apply to the U.S. and every other region of the world. Virtually every firm and industry has felt the impact of COVID-19 on employee productivity and technology usage.

Cloud adoption and digital transformation is expected to continue in 2021. CIF says 88% of organizations surveyed expect cloud service adoption to increase in the next 12 months. As it stands now, 94% of companies surveyed were using at least one cloud service provider.

Other key findings include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the large majority of organizations (83%) to change their IT strategy in some way.
  • Four in ten businesses (41%) concede that their remote working solutions are not as secure as the office, highlighting security concerns.
  • 55% of respondents have increased their cloud adoption as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Remote working has brought many positives, with 56% highlighting flexible working and 41% enjoying increased use of cloud-based collaboration apps.
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) either had a digital transformation strategy in place before the pandemic or were in the process of implementing one.
  • 60% of leaders believe that their company is doing "just enough" to become digitized, leaving room for further acceleration in digital adoption.
  • Stretched budgets, a lack of in-house skills, and an underdeveloped company culture are considered major hurdles to further digitization.
  • 88% of organizations expect their adoption of cloud services to increase in the next 12 months.

COVID-19 caught quite a few companies looking. The research found only 35% of those surveyed had a digital transformation strategy in place before the pandemic began. Another 38% were in the process of implementing a digital transformation strategy before the pandemic, and 14% were forced to scale up their plans as lockdowns began to bite.

"This paints a fairly positive picture of digital plans and preparedness, although a fairly significant minority were caught off guard," Hilton said.

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