Switching from a traditional information technology setup, with data and applications stored on servers that are managed in-house, to a cloud-based solution, is becoming a reality for an increasing number of large and medium-sized companies around the world. According to a new survey carried out by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, firms that have decided to make the leap wholesale and adopt a no-holds-barred approach to switching are the ones that are reaping the biggest benefits, in terms of increased agility and competitive advantage.

From Singapore to Seattle, firms are recognising the many benefits of cloud-based solutions, which can range from savings in terms of costs and time, through to increased stability and improved security.A total of 527 Harvard Business Review readers from large and medium-sized companies based across the globe were interviewed as part of the survey. More than two-thirds (70%) said they had adopted cloud-based computing in some form. A similar number said they believed the move would reduce unnecessary complexity in their business.The fact that data is not only securely held off-site, but also that it can be accessed anytime, from anywhere, has revolutionised how some companies operate. It is in this way that cloud computing can make firms more agile, providing opportunities for closer collaboration and improved communication between colleagues, and between businesses and their clients. This is especially true if there are geographical boundaries to contend with – something faced by a considerable number of organisations in today’s market.

Asked if cloud computing had provided their company with some form of competitive advantage, 74 per cent said it had, with almost a third stating it had provided a significant advantage. Only about a fifth of survey respondents (22%) said they were cautious about adopting cloud computing technology, although they were still taking steps in that direction. Fewer than one in 10 said they had made no move so far towards the cloud.Quite how quickly companies will continue to adopt these new ways of working remains to be seen. However, with an increasing number of options such as Amazon Web Services to choose from, it seems likely that enterprises across all sectors will be keen to make their firms more agile and benefit from the competitive advantages on offer.

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