Living in the UK we are used to cloud, it seems to be ever present, and with global warming to the fore, we wonder if, in the future, we will ever see the sun again. In our daily lives, unless Australia are batting at Headingly of course, clouds are generally not seen as a positive thing!

Conversely, in today’s technology climate, where the forecast is also for increasing levels of cloud, the picture is somewhat different. Businesses are increasingly anxious to be part of this new world, excited by tales of rapid adoption and increased abilities to scale, whilst ridding themselves of the reliance on server rooms full of expensive and ageing hardware.

Across all this runs the topic of Digital Transformation, enabling businesses to compete with their traditional rivals, whilst fending off the plethora of new entrants, with no infrastructure to worry about, who are eager to disrupt the traditional business models. However, where to start, what initiative will help gain the most traction, and enable the business to be more competitive, in the shortest time?

As ever with these things, rather than plough a lonely furrow, it’s helpful to look at what others are doing. Hence, looking at industry statistics, it’s obvious that one area that is rapidly driving cloud adoption is Analytics, businesses are surrounded by increasing volumes of data, which at best they simply store, and at worst they discard. The data is effectively their business DNA and used in the right way can become a key area to drive competitiveness.

Industry statistics clearly back this view up, with growth in revenues for ‘on premise data led deployments’ being just 5%, whilst cloud based deployments are growing by 120% per annum, and this is forecast to increase.

At the same time, today less than 5% of business data is currently held in the cloud, yet a quarter of all investments on cloud systems are focused on business data. It’s obvious where things are going!

Clearly, as part of digital transformation, whilst modernising and migrating legacy stock, finance and HR systems, business have recognised that their data is a premium asset. There are returns to be made from what they gather already, and opportunities to gather additional data, whether through sensors, people counters, or other initiatives, that can enable them to steal a march on their competitors.

So what is it about cloud based systems that mean that these returns can be realised?

Firstly, analytics is not an exact science, it’s not always obvious where the value lies, trials need to be done, results analysed and the intended direction of travel modified accordingly. In addition, the volumes of data are large, and dynamic. This scenario does not fit well with traditional on-premise deployments, where expensive hardware and software licenses need to be purchased, for initiatives where the outcome is unclear. Of course, with cloud systems, using the subscription model, this fits well, ideas can be tried for limited periods, and changed almost at will. The journey becomes the key thing in cloud based systems, not just the destination, which changes as the business travels.

Secondly, to uncover the real value inherent within the data, sophisticated technology is required, which simply put is outside the scope and cost for an on-premise deployment. Fortunately, Microsoft with their cloud based subscription services for products such as Machine Learning, Cortana Analytics, Power BI and IoT suite, put high quality and sophisticated techniques easily within the reach of each analytics initiative. Essentially, with the service led approach, data capture from sensors, or sophisticated forecasting models, and neural networking techniques (e.g. face recognition), that traverse enormous sets of data, requiring complex hardware, can be subscribed to as and when they are needed.

In my view, these things make Analytics the perfect place for rapid cloud adoption.

Luckily, as I said, we are used to cloud in the UK, so are in a good position to be at the centre of this revolution!