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Decision Brief

When to Adopt Cloud Computing

Hank Marquis, Global Knowledge Practice Director, Cloud Solutions


When and why should I adopt cloud computing?


Many IT leaders are unsure about cloud computing. After all, not all firms can afford to take risks. Others simply must be first to market. Here, we examine firm types and determine which ones should invest in cloud computing right now.


As firms adopt cloud computing, it is diffusing into the market. The pattern of adoption and diffusion can help you make an informed decision that’s right for your firm and industry. Our research shows that cloud computing has crossed the chasm and is approaching majority status. Whether your firm is part of the majority can largely be determined by the type of firm it is. Three-fourths of the firms with the largest or most specialized operations, the "daring" firm type, use cloud computing. Two-thirds of them plan to expand usage. That means they’ve figured out the best applications for cloud and have identified the risks, challenges and solutions.

What You Need to Know:

Firms tend to adopt technology in a predictable sequence as it diffuses into the marketplace. Once you know your firm type, you can determine whether you should explore or adopt cloud computing now.

Firm Characteristics Firm Type
Very large and/or most specialized operation
Large budget
Willing to take risks and experiment
First to take on new technology, often sharing results
Technology-focused proponent of revolutionary change Project-oriented, visionary, self-sufficient, and communicates horizontally
Large and/or specialized operation
Often a role model in industry
Similar to Daring, but prefers to learn from Daring’s mistakes and then adopt
Respectful/Early Adopters
Average-sized operation with above-average industry status
Prefers to follow the pack
Not technically focused
Prefers evolutionary change
Pragmatic and process-oriented
Risk adverse and prefers proven applications
May require support
Communicates vertically

Deliberate/Early Majority
Small specialization
Small budget
Prefers to wait until marketplace demands response
Often needs additional expertise, help, consulting, etc.
Little specialization
Very small organization
Very small budget
Cannot seem to find a use

What You Need to Do:

In many cases, a new technology represents more challenges and risks than rewards. Nevertheless, when cloud computing diffusion approaches your firm, you need to decide to reject or adopt it. Most firms have implemented at least some production cloud computing:

  • If your firm type is Daring or Respectful, you need to adopt cloud computing now or risk losing a competitive advantage. Most firms that are Daring and Respectful have adopted cloud computing, and the majority is experiencing enough value to expand its use.
  • If your firm type is Deliberate, you should begin deciding about adoption. More than two-thirds of firms that are Deliberate have adopted cloud computing. If you have not decided yet, you need to decide now based upon:
    • Relative advantage: How much better is it than current methods?
    • Compatibility: How consistent is it with values/needs of potential adopters?
    • Complexity: How difficult is it to understand and use?
    • Trialability: How easily can you experiment with it on a limited basis?
    • Observability: How visible are the results to other stakeholders?
  • If your firm type is Skeptical or Traditional, you may not need to move on cloud computing at this time, but you should stay informed and aware.

When considering these factors and your readiness for cloud computing adoption, follow these proven technology adoption steps:

  1. Awareness: Understand what cloud computing is and how and why it works for your firm. Many early adopters are technical, financial and legal firms.
  2. Interest: Seek opinions of others you trust in your marketplace. See which applications work in your industry. The majority considers cloud computing to work best for storage, CRM, e-mail and PaaS for developing and testing web applications.
  3. Evaluation: Decide to accept or reject cloud computing by examining the most commonly cited challenges and risks: bandwidth costs, lack of monitoring and troubleshooting tools and security concerns.
  4. Trial: Choose an appropriate application to pilot cloud computing, and test it to verify specific challenges,. risks, solutions and countermeasures.
  5. Adoption: If satisfied with your trial, move to full use of cloud computing for the selected applications and then repeat these steps for the next application.
  6. Adaptation: Stay in touch with your peers and market and over time customize features to your environment.

Learn More:

For more information about how our training solutions can improve productivity, enhance efficiency and sharpen your competitive edge, visit, contact a Global Knowledge transformation consultant at 1-919-463-7383, or email