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Battle for Competitive Difference Fought in the Cloud

Go cloud-based or go home.

That seems to be the mantra as the global technology giants continue to invest heavily in cloud computing, egged on by Chinese players such as Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. The Chinese e-commerce company announced as recently as last week that it is launching its first international venture – a cloud computing hub in Silicon Valley, proving yet again the fierce competition for market shares is stiffening both globally and on the home turf.

In fact, it's interesting to note all five of the top-ranked companies listed by the 2013 Strategy& Global Information, Communications and Technology 50 study bet their future on cloud technologies. The companies  (IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Cisco Systems) could not until recently be perceived as direct competitors. Now they all wield cloud-based portfolios as their competitive weapon of choice.

Analysts at Strategy& note:

The industry leaders are seeking dominant positions, wanting to become the kings of the cloud. As a group, they are putting distance between themselves and the second tier of followers.

The demand is hardly going to lessen as an increasing number of organizations need cloud solutions to manage and store the huge amounts of data that they use to transform manufacturing processes, fine-tune supply chains, forecast customer behavior, and optimize inventories – to name a fraction of potential applications. And as if we need further proof data analytics is part of driving competition for cloud customers, a new report by Market & Research shows data analytics and cloud computing are expected to record a combined growth of 26% annually over the next five years.

While the adoption of cloud technologies in the financial industry has been tempered by concerns about data encryption, auditing controls, and transparency, it will likely come around as the pros begin to outweigh the cons. To date, only 28% of American financial institutions have a cloud-based strategy in place, according to a report by the Cloud Security Alliance.

A sponsor of the report, Dr. Chenxi Wang, vice president of Cloud Security and Strategy at CipherCloud:

Cloud has made solid inroads in this industry with many firms looking to harnessing the power of cloud. There's plenty of room for growth, particularly for providers who can fill the void for the auditing and data protection controls that are at the top of respondents' cloud wish list.

In the meantime, the public cloud services market alone could grow into a $100 billion industry by 2017, according to researcher IDC. In short, the battle is on.

How does your business leverage cloud computing for its supply chain activities?

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