In a recent article on SearchCIO, a clear choice is presented to IT leaders: disrupt or be disrupted.

This isn’t a new concept, but that doesn't make the assumption any less urgent. You can’t simply execute better than your competition, you also have to innovate better. And today’s innovators are leveraging cloud.

Cloud adoption is growing faster than ever. According to Forrester Research, the percentage of enterprises that have deployed cloud has risen from 10% to 33% since 2013, and 49% of enterprises with more than 100 employees now use public cloud. For good reason—better workload flexibility, easier access to data, and lower risk (in some cases) enable companies to innovate faster to better serve customers.

That's why you are seeing agility, and not cost, as the primary driver," said Prat Moghe, CEO of Cazena, a big-data-as-a-service provider that works with AWS and Azure. "It's not that they (IT executives) don't spend the money, they just don't want to spend that money in the wrong place where they don't get a return on it. SearchCIO.comIT Shops See Cloud Computing As a Way to Disrupt Competitors

Cloud lowers the business risk of innovation

Lowering the business risk associated with disruption is one of the biggest advantages of cloud. Cloud offers agility, creating a culture of innovation that allows companies to experiment in smaller, more frequent exercises—exercises that are easier to ramp up and dial back down. This allows teams to fail faster, which can lead to true breakthroughs. 

But cloud costs quickly become an issue if you don't have control over your spend. Expenses can surge and sprawl, leading to surprises on your cloud bill without a disciplined way to correlate them with projects and business units. Transparency is key— when teams can see how cloud consumption decisions impact ongoing costs, they can help better manage those costs. 

Powerful analytics help manage cloud economics

To ensure the return IT leaders are looking for, cloud strategies must be anchored in fact-based data. Without this data, it is nearly impossible to set practical goals, audit cloud initiatives over time, or communicate impacts to the rest of the organization.

This is where Saas-based applications like Apptio Cost Transparency make a big difference.

Apptio uses automation to integrate public cloud data into a standard IT cost model, sorting and translating millions of line items into a single view that can be used to frame cloud costs alongside traditional IT costs. These powerful analytics give IT leaders a big picture view of cloud's economic impact on the organization.

Examples: cloud costs are illustrated in the context of overall IT spend

Disrupt or be disrupted

If you accept the premise that you have a clear choice—disrupt with cloud or risk being disrupted—then understanding how to maximize efficiency and avoid surprises will be critical to your cloud strategy. Apptio can help.

For more on how you can better manage the economics of cloud, read 3 Steps to Make your Cloud Strategy Bulletproof or download our helpful Cloud Economics poster.