TCS conducted the study between August and December 2011 in four regions of the world: the U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. We focused solely on cloud applications (which excluded such issues as cloud infrastructure such as hardware and middleware) – in order to shed deeper light than other studies had on those applications.
Various definitions of cloud exist in the marketplace, which can make research on this topic challenging. In the survey and our interviews, we defined cloud computing applications as the business applications software used by a company’s business functions (such as R&D, manufacturing, HR and finance) to accomplish their work – BUT only those software applications that reside on a remote data center and are accessed via the Internet (that is, “the cloud”). We told the research participants that by cloud applications, we were note including the business applications software that companies have operated for many years on the computers located on their premises (or “on-premises” applications, for short).
In addition, we provided definitions for the following terms in order to clarify what we were asking them about in their organizations:
- Cloud applications software – We defined this as the business applications used by business functions such as R&D, manufacturing, HR and finance to accomplish their work (a cloud-based sales force management application, a cloud-based payroll system, etc.). We told participants that we were not referring to the generic cloud-based corporate email/communication tools that are used across an entire company (such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365) and not by one or two functions.
- Public vs. private clouds – We defined public cloud applications as those that reside in a remote data center that is owned by a third party. We defined private cloud applications as those that reside in a remote data center that was owned by their company.
Our inquiry centered on mostly large companies (defined as greater than $1 billion in revenue). In the U.S. and Europe (largely companies in Germany, UK, France), 88% of the respondents were companies with parent organizations of more than $1 billion. In Asia-Pacific, 75% of the companies were over $1 billion, while 49% of the 57 Latin American companies were more than $1 billion.
We wanted to understand not only the extent to which companies were using cloud applications, but where they were using them in their businesses: which business functions, and which activities within those functions. Thus we designed an extensive, 16-question survey that was taken by senior business function and IT managers. In all 606 managers completed every question in the survey.
The largest proportion of respondents (71%) was from the U.S. and Europe. After we designed the survey questionnaire, it was fielded by ResearchNow, a survey firm with a panel of more than 6 million business professionals in 37 countries. ResearchNow drove responses to the survey in September and October.
We also conducted in-depth qualitative research at six companies around the world: CTB/McGraw-Hill, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Dell, AOL Inc., a $5 billion consumer products company and a large telecommunications firm (which requested anonymity). Those interviews were conducted by telephone and lasted from 45 minutes to an hour or more.
We conducted extensive secondary research at the outset to determine the “white space” on the topic, where we found an absence of studies that went deep on how large companies across the world were using cloud applications. We wanted to identify companies that might share their cloud stories with us in our case study interviews. We also reviewed the findings with TCS’s experts on cloud computing to get their analysis on the data.
We analyzed the extensive data set from October to December 2011, comparing results from the four regions. To better understand what differentiated the companies that reported greater benefits to date from their cloud applications, we compared those that finished in the top quartile of benefits with those in the bottom quartile. We found a number of big differences, which helped to drive what questions we asked in the case study interviews.