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Marc Dietz, Director, IBM SmartCloud Solutions

Marc Dietz, Director, IBM SmartCloud Solutions

By Marc Dietz

Traditionally relegated to back office IT managers reporting to the CIO, enterprise technology decisions are often made by a small subset of employees – generally not by executives closest to the business.

But cloud computing is changing all that.

Executives across the C-Suite are recognizing that they must reorient their businesses to become more competitive in a digital economy. This comes with a deeper understanding of how mobile and social technologies are reshaping the way people consume, disseminate and share information, and how the data generated from these applications is helping businesses transform their organizations and personalize their interactions with customers. New technologies – such as cloud computing – hold a new promise to open up powerful new lines of engagement.

But what truly excites these executives about cloud?

It’s obviously not the usual IT-centric motivations: computing power, scalability, flexibility, CapEx cost cutting. And, frankly, Line-of-Business executives care about business outcomes; not whether or not it’s delivered in the cloud. But the C-Suite is, in fact, reaching for the cloud because they want to transform marketing, procurement, supplier management, human resources, legal – everything it takes to go to market and manage people, reach new customers, and grow their business. And they want those transformations more quickly.

Cloud can be a business accelerator. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs, and with the ways that cloud is transforming marketing, clearly a growing percentage of that spend will be on cloud solutions.

To meet this new and growing demand, IBM unveiled new cloud solutions this week designed for the C-suite to boost innovation and help them meet their business objectives. This builds on the news of IBM’s intention to acquire SoftLayer, as well as our recently announced support for OpenStack and DBMongo as essential open standards for cloud computing – all part of a major push to the cloud.

Among the newest cloud business offerings is a social media analytics solution that chief marketing officers (CMOs) can use to get an emotional reading on how customers are viewing their brand. This offering provides marketers with deeper insights to understand consumer sentiments in social media and then to refine products, service levels, and targeted offers accordingly. This technology allows companies to gain a view of consumer perception that is uniquely their own, not industry-wide or owned by a third-party.

For example, London-based Speedo, the world’s largest swimwear brand, is using cloud-based digital analytics to improve the shopping experience for its customers. The result? Cross-selling revenue increased by more than 10 percent in online sales, generating six times more revenue per average order.

Those results are dramatic, but not necessarily unique.

According to a global IBM survey, Chief Procurement Officers who invest in Big Data analytics are driving 22 percent higher profit margins. With 89 percent of consumers choosing to do business with a competitor due to a poor customer experience, sales and e-commerce executives are increasingly investing in digital analytics to better understand consumers.

Put simply, IT continues to make its way into the front office, and cloud is leading the way. For the C-suite, cloud isn’t about computing power. It’s about agility, innovation, and transformation; finding new business models and revenue streams and better serving customers and employees.

As business executives seize the transformational power of cloud computing, enterprise adoption will grow dramatically, further driving technology decisions into the boardroom.

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