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In 1963, the American psychologist and computer scientist J. C. R. Licklider wrote a series of forward-thinking, perhaps even visionary, memos that he addressed to the “Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network.”

Just over half a century later, his foresight sits at the center of a global transformation as organizations strive to become truly intelligent. This transformation is both driven and underpinned by cloud computing technology – itself arguably representing a further iteration of Licklider’s early theories.

Simply put, cloud computing makes it possible for users to access data, applications, and services over the Internet and ultimately provides the foundation for the intelligent enterprise which is ready for tomorrow’s world.

The cloud eliminates the need for costly hardware, such as hard drives and servers – and gives users the ability to work from anywhere.As such, cloud software offers several distinct advantages that help sharpen a company’scompetitive edge: It speeds up processes, makes them easier, and above all smarter – all aiming at realizing a company’s intelligent enterprise.


Value in the market

Forrester predicts that by the year 2020, the global public cloud market will have risen to a value of $236 billion.

IDC, meanwhile, has tracked significant growthin the adoption of ERP solutions hosted in a public cloud – suggesting that businesses are beginning to wake up to the value of cloud solutions. This is not surprising given the vast benefits and features public cloud delivers – from infrastructure scalability and set-up through to cost savings.

Indeed, pretty much every new IT innovation of the past few years has its roots in cloud computing – including artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital assistants, conversational capabilities, and predictive analytics. All these innovations aim at a singular  goal – that is, make software, and as such the organizations that use it, intelligent.

This is all great! Yet, why are there businesses that have yet to make the shift towards the cloud?


Businesses and IT lagging behind

This isn’t to say that organizations have ignored the cloud. Indeed, quite a few have made the migration. However, there are companies that have simply not yet dared to fully commit to the cloud, thereby denying themselves the benefits it brings to their respective organizations and crucially the opportunity to become a truly intelligent enterprise.

Instead, they have started their cloud journey slowly and with care, to fit in with their respective business models and without disrupting them. This means they have either started by moving only select applications to the public cloud, but persevering with legacy technology for others (aka two-tier approach), or by switching to a deployment scenario hosted in a private cloud.

We at SAP have understood that, in today’s market, there are a number of factors pushing companies to adopt one of these two scenarios, rather than the “ultimate” public cloud.

Nonetheless, cloud solutions, by their very nature, are designed to alleviate the concerns that might accompany such a change of platform and approach for an IT department as they transform the organization to become an intelligent enterprise.

So, the question remains: why do we still find reluctance to switch?

The risk of stasis

My feeling is that if organizations recognized the risk of notmoving to cloud, then more businesses would be prioritizing a shift. Today’s digitization of the marketplace is only increasing the speed at which companies need to be able to move and adapt.

This is the point where companies realize they need a cloud ERP solution that, in fact, makes the journey towards digital for them– taking over their tasks by automating and streamlining them, as well as by leveraging intelligent next-generation business processes. They suddenly see the need for a system that is proactive and has the capabilities, ultimately, to sneak around the corner and suggest end users what to do next. It also pushes organizations towards implementing a system which the user can have a conversation with using natural language, as if talking to a colleague.

Failing to implement intelligent systems like these will either see organizations outpaced, overtaken by agile competitors (or swallowed whole) as customers vote with their feet – and their wallets. It’s as simple as that. Cloud is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s absolutely essential, and sits at the foundation of any truly intelligent enterprise.


One size won’t always fit all

But with that said, the process of shifting to the cloud will be different for many businesses, and each organization should be enabled to take each step at its own pace. Be it via a private or full public environment, or by deploying a two-tier scenario in the first place.

Getting it wrong carries its own set of risks – anything from mishandled security processes to loss of employee engagement. Even the loss of leadership and market-readiness are not exempt.

With our cloud ERP solution portfolio, here at SAP, we take a collaborative approach with our customers: looking closely at their needs and working with them to map out a cloud strategy that matches their priorities when it comes to keeping the business running and growing as they evolve into a truly intelligent business.


Following your intuition

Ultimately, I like to think about this process in relation with the terms that J. C. R. Licklider laid down all those years ago.

His ideas were, he said, things that he could feel intuitively. In the cloud, such an approach is proving vital to keeping the world turning, in its own intuitive way, into the future.

Just as Dr Licklider’s ideas laid the foundation for the future of computer science, so too is the fact that the cloud is now the very basis of the intelligent enterprise. In line with this, the intelligent enterprise – the ways to realize it, what it requires, as well as its benefits for making business in today’s digital market – will be THE focus of discussion from June 5 to 7 at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUGconference in Orlando, FL.


Register now for SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 and meet us at Orlando to find out exactly how SAP’s cloud ERP solutions are made to turn tomorrow’s vision of a connected and intelligent business into a reality.

Looking forward to meet there as I am interested in your view and feel free to follow me via @SDenecken