A new group of “cloud masters” – small group of forward-thinking businesses have reached cloud maturity (with on average 70% or more of their applications operating in the cloud) and are outperforming their competitors – is emerging.
Comprising 12% of respondents to a global survey of 730 IT professionals conducted by Longitude, these cloud masters are more data driven being better able to access, experiment and get insight from their business information, innovative and better able to respond to customer needs with greater relevance, speed and agility.

They’ve also seen the largest increases in productivity and competitiveness. Together, these organisations are disrupting the industries in which they operate, leaving their peers behind.

The remainder are playing catch up despite most having a cloud strategy in place and implementation underway. Interestingly, while more than one-third (36%) of South African IT executives surveyed stated that their cloud strategies are fully-developed and largely implemented, only a very small percentage globally can be classified as ‘cloud masters’, revealing a gap between what companies are talking about and what they are doing.

In terms of cloud strategy, a lesser proportion (21%) of South African businesses reported that strategy implementation is progressing; and 43% stated their strategy development for cloud is in its infancy.

Cloud is not the only technology investment that South African businesses are looking to make in 2018. Oracle’s research found that businesses in South Africa are looking to capitalise on new, innovative technologies, such as open databases, visual tools and multiplatform capabilities in the next year.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of South African IT executives felt that automation capabilities were important to the business. Only 14% of South African IT executives were found to put an importance on AI and machine learning within the organisation.

Niral Patel, MD and technology leader at Oracle South Africa, comments: “In 2018, the gap between cloud masters and those lagging behind has the potential to widen significantly. What we are seeing is that those with the most experience are the quickest to exploit the new enterprise technologies and development methodologies and to use them to wow customers or develop competitive advantages before they become mainstream.

“This speed to market comes from having the experience to apply the emerging technologies to business and from having invested in the right cloud platform, infrastructure and tools. This means they can accelerate their way to competitive success — and if other businesses don’t catch up now, they could be permanently left behind.”

Almost two-thirds (63%) of South African respondents agree that cloud adoption offers the ability to better meet customer demands, enable greater collaboration, improve scalability and agility, concerns over security remain a barrier; 39% feel there are major security issues in moving IT operations and data to the cloud.

Contradicting this, however, more than nearly half (46%) of South African IT professionals say they believe application security in the cloud is better than previously. In addition, the research found that, globally, respondents with a higher level of cloud maturity and exposure revealed themselves to be more confident in their cyber security capabilities than companies less ingrained in cloud — 65% rated their cyber threat detection as good to very good compared to 38%.

The survey also shows a stark difference in analytics capabilities between those with a significant cloud exposure and those of lesser maturity.

Globally, more than 60% of cloud-mature companies say they have an increased ability to analyse most types of data and are taking advantage of improvements in machine learning-based automation and visualisation, compared to nearer a third of companies at a lower stage. Eight in 10 cloud-mature companies say they’re realising important gains from migrating data management to the cloud and able to experiment with different data models, and nearly as many say they generate better insights from their data. This is in comparison to around a half of organisations with lesser cloud maturity.

Critically, it is firms that integrate their data analysis capability into a single cloud platform that provides secure access to data in both on-premises and cloud data sources that are experiencing the greatest gains.