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Cloud, Mobile And Analytics Lessons From The IW 500

The InformationWeek 500 research shows doubts about hybrid clouds, sentiment analytics and mobile apps for employees.

2013 InformationWeek 500
See our full InformationWeek 500 ranking plus more profiles and analysis

Healthcare company UPMC is exploring cloud computing not because that's trendy, but because it must cope with 5 PB of patient data that will double in the next 18 months. ConocoPhillips is just now embracing more real-time analytics on its natural gas wells, because it sees the chance to turn that data into double-digit percentage increases in gas output. Miami Children's Hospital is testing a tablet app that allows for remote doctor visits, because it sees the potential for a new revenue source.

We see in all our profiles of InformationWeek 500 companies the very practical ways they're using IT to drive their businesses. But just as important, the information we collect from surveying 500 business IT innovators provides a reality check on the most hyped trends. What follows are some surprising things we learned about cloud, data analytics and mobile from this year's IW 500 research.

Cloud: Not So Sophisticated

It's a surprise to see how uncommon hybrid clouds are. Just 12% of IW 500 companies can switch between public cloud infrastructure and in-house data centers based on demand. Another 18% are testing that capability, and about a fourth intend to try it within a year. But 45% have no plans for hybrid cloud computing.

Cloud advocates tout "cloudbursting" -- when a company, for example, runs its website in-house but switches over to a public cloud if a promotion overloads the company data center. It's a compelling concept, but our data shows hardly anyone is doing it.

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It's also surprising to see no increased uptake since last year's survey in the use of platform-as-a-service -- 26% of IW 500 companies are using it, nearly the same as the 27% last year. A sizable 21% are pilot testing PaaS, but 38% have no plans to use it from an outside vendor. (We didn't ask this year about software-as-a-service use, since last year 85% of IW 500 companies were already using it.)

Given the tepid use of hybrid or platform cloud computing, it's interesting that when we asked about the use of "storage, compute or other cloud infrastructure," only 7% said they have no such plans -- 59% are using cloud infrastructure, 21% are pilot testing it, and 13% plan to roll it out within a year.

I see two likely explanations for the gap between infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service. One, where companies use public IaaS, it's for quick development projects or some other standalone initiative that doesn't interact with production systems. And second, because we didn't specify "public" cloud in our cloud infrastructure question, I suspect some companies are counting their "private clouds," meaning a highly virtualized environment inside their own data centers. Both cases point to a limited, not terribly sophisticated role for cloud computing among IW 500 companies.

chart: Have you rolled out these tactics as part of your data analysis strategy?

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WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2013 | 12:26:45 PM
re: Cloud, Mobile And Analytics Lessons From The IW 500
I think the finding on tablets --A year ago, 38% of companies said that broader
deployment of tablets was one of the top ways they boosted productivity;
this year, it's just 30%-- squares with the fact that tablets look liberating for workers, but still remain much better at consuming, or updating information, than they are for executing much of the work most workers still have to do and which is easier to accomplish w/ a laptop or PC.
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2013 | 9:53:25 PM
re: Cloud, Mobile And Analytics Lessons From The IW 500
"Sixty percent of companies expect 2013 IT
spending to increase from 2012 levels, 28% said it would hold steady,
and just 12% said it would decline. Last year, 68% expected their IT
spending to increase."

That's interesting. I wonder of the 68% who expected IT spending to increase last year, how many really had an increase?
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
9/9/2013 | 6:49:58 PM
re: Cloud, Mobile And Analytics Lessons From The IW 500
Only 42% of IW 500 companies (and these are the business technology leaders) have widely deployed mobile apps for customers. It's very surprising that percentage isn't much higher, for B2B companies as well as B2C. There needs to be a greater sense of urgency to go mobile.
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
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