Below is one of the classic weather symbols, which as well as expressing typical ambiguity about the forecast, also sums up my approach to the cloud.

In Britain, our changeable weather–and the fact that talking about it is the standard way to open any conversation–means we have an intimate relationship with the weather forecast. And, in Britain, this means the Met Office with their classic symbols. An icon of British design (like the ) which features on the BBC home page, on television, and even on each page of UK passports.

In a previous posting “ ,” I said that I didn’t think that cloud was fundamentally transformative for commerce and was more of an IT strategy. Just like the British weather, I have changed my outlook.  In fact, I think the weather symbol expresses well the symbiotic relationship between business networks and the cloud.

Sometimes in technology we want to delineate between  concepts when in fact they might be two ways of saying the same thing. The promise of the networked economy requires both the flexibility of cloud solutions and the interconnections of a business network.

When I first started in this game, all of the end points of the network were on-premise, though in those days we just called it “software.” It was difficult to keep the customers’ software up to date so it would work with the network. Cloud changed all that. Also, when the market changed, it took time for customers to react because they had customized systems and had to install and test any changes.

There is a symbiotic relationship between Business Networks and Cloud

Cloud solutions are Pre-wired for a business network, and significantly reduce the software engineering challenges and allow for faster innovation.  Between cloud solutions and Business Networks we are seeing rapid feedback loops as each adds value to the other.

Why move to the cloud? As well as the familiar solid arguments around speed, flexibility and cost, I’d add the fact that it’s where everyone else is . You go to the cloud because that’s where you find your suppliers, your customers and other trading partners. You put processes into the cloud that are naturally collaborative, so all parties can interact.

What’s the forecast? Definitely getting brighter.

If this article on cloud technology in the financial sector caught your eye, stay tuned for our short feature on NYSE Technologies and the vertical cloud, coming this week as part of our overview paper.

Our global survey shows companies using Platform-as-a-Service technology in a variety of ways to serve customers.

  • Well over half of respondents collaborate with partners to create new products and services (58%)
  • 57% collaborate with partners to build and host applications for customer service
  • 54% collaborate with partners to build and host applications for business collaboration
  • 43% use the cloud environment to extend access to or features of existing offerings
  • 38% integrate with business partners via public APIs.
  • Less than 10% do not use Platform as a Service technology to serve customers.

Our global survey of 200 business and IT execs shows that the cloud plays a prominent role in business strategy and objectives.

  • More than half of respondents use the cloud to innovate quickly and meet rapidly changing market needs in real time, while just under half use the cloud to better manage and analyze big data and for custom development of new applications.
  • Nearly as many (46%) have a “cloud first “or “cloud only” strategy with regard to new software, and 45% support developers with Platform as a Service resources.
  • A smaller but still significant number, 39%, use the cloud to collaborate with partners, suppliers, and/or customers, and 38% use it to develop and deploy new business models.
  • Better than one in five respondents subscribes to SaaS offerings.
  • Just 16% use cloud computing only for cost and efficiency purposes, while 10% say they are not using cloud computing for strategic ends and a scant 6% say cloud computing is not a part of their business strategy.

More from our global survey:

  • Well over half (58%) of respondents use the cloud to collaborate with partners on creating new products and services.
  • Roughly the same number build and host applications for customer service.
  • Nearly as many (54%) build and host applications for business collaboration.