Some of the advances that cloud computing makes possible have nothing to do with the cloud itself. Instead, they come from the process of transforming an organization to take advantage of the cloud's benefits. That transformation can make a company more agile, responsive, and efficient, matching what the cloud does for it.
As the cloud has continued to permeate organizations of all sizes, its benefits are becoming matters of fact rather than opinion. Cloud applications and services offer higher reliability, better performance, and lower cost. In many cases, they actually exceed the expectations that are originally set up for them.
For a company to truly benefit from the cloud, though, it needs to have business processes that are compatible with it. Transitioning to a cloud-based purchasing system brings the benefit of agility and flexibility. However, if an organization still has a lengthy and paperwork-ridden process leading up to when the acquisition gets made, the cloud-based system will make relatively little if any difference. A company that streamlines its processes to move more quickly while taking advantage of the accountability-tracking features built into many cloud-based applications gets all of those process benefits to go along with the cloud implementation.
The change goes beyond simple procedures, though. In this example, for a procurement process to be truly revolutionized, the company also needs to work with its vendors and outside partners to have them revise their practices to better conform to the cloud-system. Other departments within the organization that rely on procurement can also change their operating procedures to have greater efficiency. All of these changes work together to create a more efficient way of procuring goods-- long before that process actually touches the cloud system.
This principle isn't only applicable to procurement, though. As with any application transition, moving to the cloud creates an opportunity to rethink the business practices that go into that application. Whether a company reformulates its sales reporting procedures to take advantage of a new cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) application or rethinks the way that it plans meetings in the wake of access to cloud-based video conferencing tools, the IT change and the business change go hand in hand.
This is how cloud computing truly changes everything. While it can empty datacenters and free IT staff to work on more productive tasks than maintaining systems, it has the potential to even more fundamentally transform non-IT departments. Those parts of the company get an excuse -- and an impetus -- to look at everything they do to make it as flexible, efficient, and nimble as the cloud-based systems that they are implementing.