Business has come to understand the value cloud offers.

By Kirtan Sirta, MD: technology at Accenture South Africa

A massive 77% of enterprises reported that they have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud while the worldwide “whole cloud” spending is predicted to reach $565-billion by 2021.

Yet despite the opportunities of cloud to enable innovation, drive business agility, streamline operations and reduce costs, many companies are still struggling to capture the benefits for themselves.

Accenture surveyed 200 senior IT executives (chief information officers, vice-presidents/directors of IT, vice-presidents/directors of cloud) from companies around the world annually, to discover to what extent those leveraging cloud have achieved the expected benefits and their level of satisfaction with these achievements.

Four dimensions of cloud outcomes were considered – cost savings, speed to market, business enablement, and improved service levels. Accenture then asked IT leaders to identify the greatest barriers in their organisations to fully exploiting the promise of cloud. The blind survey was conducted with 200 companies having revenues in excess of $1-billion per annum, across 10 industries in eight countries.


Levels of satisfaction with cloud benefits

While 96% of the survey respondents report achieving some degree of their expected cloud outcomes, less than half are “very satisfied” the results.

Most companies surveyed had achieved some measure of success in attaining their desired cloud outcomes. With this in mind, the study looked at the level of satisfaction the surveyed executives had with their reported results. In general, respondents indicated satisfaction with cloud results achieved, despite not fully realising the anticipated benefits.

On average, 93% of executives were satisfied (49%) or very satisfied (44%) with the outcomes delivered, indicating that for the most part, cloud-driven improvements of any degree were sufficient to clear the bar of minimum expectations.

Cost savings proved to be the area where the most dissatisfaction was raised, with 11% acknowledging expectations have not been met. Dissatisfaction with expected outcomes for business enablement and speed to market came in at 8% and 7% respectively, with only 4% indicating being dissatisfied with progress on service level improvements.


Barriers to achieving full cloud benefits

While the figures above indicate that the overall satisfaction levels with cloud outcomes on average exceed 90%, only 35% of all respondents report fully achieving their expected benefits. That leaves a sizeable 65% that have not fully achieved their expected benefits. We asked our IT leaders to identify and rank the barriers they most experienced in the efforts to drive their cloud agenda and achieve their goals.

The barrier noted most frequently by respondents in their top three was “security and compliance risk” (65%), a view echoed across nearly all segments. The second most commonly noted barrier was “complexity of business and organisational change” (55%), with “legacy infrastructure and/or application sprawl” (43%) coming in a third, followed closely by “lack of cloud skills with the organisation” (42%).


Company size

Company size seemed to have the greatest influence on top three barriers. Large companies (greater than $10B), not surprisingly, identified “complexity of business and organisational change” as the top concern (67%), with “security and compliance risk” ranked second (61%) and “legacy infrastructure and/or application sprawl” ranked third (47%).

Small and moderately sized companies ($1-billion to $5-billion and $5-billion to $10-billion) ranked security and compliance risk as their top concern (61%) but next viewed lack of cloud skills and complexity of change equally concerning at (53%).


Overcoming the barriers to achieving the full promise of cloud

One option available to companies in addressing the barriers to achieve the promise of cloud is to leverage a qualified third party to manage their cloud services. We asked our IT leaders to indicate the extent to which they would consider using such services. Overall, 87% those surveyed indicated they would moderately or greatly consider the use of such services.

The greatest variance was based on extent of cloud adoption. Those in the early phases of adoption were least likely to consider managed cloud services (73%), while nearly all those heavily in the cloud would consider managed cloud services (99%), with 62% of heavy users stating they would greatly consider them.

Similarly, the largest companies showed strong inclination toward the use of managed services (91%), with nearly half (47%) indicating they would greatly consider them.


Benefits of managed cloud services

Managed cloud services are clearly an option on the minds of IT leaders. We asked our survey participants to indicate the top benefits achieved by leveraging managed cloud services across multiple dimensions.

Survey respondents identified access to the right skills (19%), lower costs (18%), and optimization of the network (14%) as the top three benefits. When considering those benefits ranked either number one of number two, access to the right skills remained the most cited benefit (30%), lower costs again came in second (29%), while greater security captured the third spot (27%).



The cloud has long been cited as a means of achieving multiple business benefits including reduced IT costs, faster speed-to-market, better service levels and cloud being an enabler of the digital business. The companies surveyed reinforce this view with 96% indicating they have at least partially achieved their expected outcomes across these four areas.

Further, most are satisfied with the results achieved. Fully achieving the anticipated benefits, however, proves much more difficult, with 65% reporting they have yet to realize the full impact they anticipated. When asked about the barriers preventing full realisation, security/compliance risk (65%) and the complexity of the change required of the business (55%) were the clear top two challenges.

Managed Services was viewed as a means of addressing many of these challenges, with 87% of respondents indicating they would consider using these services. Access to the right skills, lower cost, and greater security were the top three most commonly cited benefits, respectively.

While great advances have been made in the adoptions and application of cloud, there remains untapped benefits for those companies that can overcome the barriers shielding them.