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cloud computing“Cloud computing has revolutionized data sharing and storage, setting a new standard for collaboration around the world,” proclaimed leading investment banking firm Goldman Sachs as part of its 2013 Annual Report. In its roundup of the “25 Ways We Saw the World Change” last year, cloud computing came in at No. 3.

“This game-changing technology has enabled the storage and sharing of huge volumes of data, the birth of entirely new business models, and the ability to work collaboratively from any location around the globe,” read the annual report.

As part of its third annual Cloud Computing Conference, Goldman Sachs brought together a range of leaders that included technology innovators in the cloud computing field, executives from companies helping to drive the shift toward the cloud, and venture capitalists funding some of the evolution.

Among the critical cloud innovations and topics discussed at the conference were the need to adapt to a subscription economy and the evolution of the CIO’s role (both key discussion points that came up at IPR’s Thought Leadership Roundtable event earlier this year, btw).

At the Goldman Sachs conference, Tien Tzuo, founder and CEO of Zuora, noted that it’s the cloud that has enabled innovations to be launched as a service, which means that we are buying less stuff and instead subscribing to more and more services to meet our needs for everything from software and entertainment to car sharing. Zuora, for its part, provides software applications covering billing and finance solutions designed to allow companies (IPR among them) to grow in the subscription economy.

“A lot of what is not being discussed is that this really implies a fundamental change in business models,” Tzuo says. Instead of a focus on inventory and supply chain, the most important things become customer acquisition, revenue per customer, managing the customer relationship. “The great thing about the cloud model … and what we see as the subscription-based model … is that it really binds the vendor-customer relationship together into a win-win scenario,” Tzuo notes.

Another of the speakers at the Goldman Sachs conference, Sunny Gupta, Apptio founder and CEO, spoke to how the role of the CIO is changing in a big way thanks to the cloud and other shifts in technology. CIOs today have to have transparency into the cost, utilization, and value of IT products; find out how to optimize that cost; produce a bill for the consumption of technology by the business; benchmark their cost structures against peers in the industry, and better plan and budget around IT resources, Gupta says.

“Today, in order to be the CIO you have to be a business person first, because a lot of the choices and decisions which need to be made are how do you enable the business by leveraging technology – as opposed to just keeping a server or desktop up,” he says. “So the CIO role has changed, but we also believe that in the next 10 years that CIO role will go through even more fundamental transformation.”

Goldman Sachs is not alone in recognizing cloud computing as one of the greatest game-changers facing business today. Citing recent research from Forrester Research Inc., Bloomberg yesterday reported that growth in the cloud market is poised to blow prior forecasts out of the water. “Corporate spending on cloud-computing services, software and resources will reach $191 billion in 2020 as companies replace older equipment and programs with Internet-based systems,” Bloomberg reported. The Forrester research projects a rise from $58 billion last year to $72 billion this year, putting the market on course to be about 20 percent bigger by 2020 than earlier estimated.

Has your business made the move to the cloud yet?

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