Whatever industry you work in, whatever your department or area of expertise, cloud computing has established its presence. From retail to banking, from travel & hospitality to healthcare, organizations are using the cloud. And businesses are implementing cloud applications in functional areas from sales & marketing, to human resources, accounting, and enterprise resource management.
Growth in public cloud services—including infrastructure, platform, software, and security services—continues to be robust. According to Gartner, end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to grow 18.6% in 2012 to $110.3 billion and is expected to record a compound annual growth rate of 17.7% from 2011 through 2016.
This growth shouldn’t come as a surprise. It represents not just early adopters, but broad industry acceptance of the cloud. Travel & hospitality, banking & financial service and healthcare may not have been the first to cloud computing, but are now rapidly embracing cloud solutions.
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The benefits are too powerful to ignore:
- On-demand computing resources that can rapidly scale up or down as needed
- Paying only for the computing resources you use
- Drastically reducing infrastructure and capital costs
- Quick implementation and automatic upgrading of applications
- Alleviating the pressure and demands on your internal IT resources
- Achieving security levels comparable to premise-based or private network solutions
As compelling as these benefits are, there is another reason that organizations everywhere are turning to the cloud: their customers. Because this is the era of customer control.
Customers today have more choices in virtually every product and service category. Customers today are tech savvy and can access a wealth of product information and peer reviews online and through social networks. And customers today take to social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others to ask for and make product and service recommendations, to praise and critique their experiences as customers of your company, and to positively or negatively talk about your company.
What does this have to do with the cloud? All of this data about your brand is generated in the cloud. Which means you have an imperative to capture this information by listening on social channels and monitoring mentions of your organization. And you must respond appropriately—all in the name of engaging your customers and managing your brand. That’s probably why Gartner predicts CRM will continue to be the largest global market within software-as-a-service (SaaS), forecast to grow beyond $5B in 2012 to $9B in 2016, achieving a 16.3% CAGR through 2016. And the largest cloud CRM provider is Salesforce.com, a complete sales, marketing and customer service cloud solution.
In the end, so much of the business case for cloud computing comes down to what flows through the veins of every organization and keeps it alive: your customers. Your most precious asset. Who are now engaged in the cloud. Are you?
 Gartner: Forecast Overview: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2011-2016, 4Q12 Update