How public cloud powers digital transformation: 8 real-world examples

The public cloud has become a strategic tool for digital transformation. IT leaders lend advice on migrating to public cloud services to drive innovation, agility and revenue growth.

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Public cloud services are becoming a strategic weapon for CIOs. More than a way to cease operating data centers, the public cloud offers CIOs the ability to focus on strategic projects aimed at boosting the bottom line.

Whether that means building a mobile app or analyzing data to strengthen customer engagement, these shifts signal how strategic the public cloud has become. But CIOs also view the cloud as a way to build software faster by embracing agile, DevOps and design-thinking philosophies.

As a result, many CIOs are adopting “cloud-first” strategies. The worldwide public cloud market, also known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), grew 29.5 percent in 2017 to total $23.5 billion, according to data Gartner. "Cloud-directed IT spending now constitutes more than 20 percent of the total IT budget for organizations using cloud,” says Sid Nag, a Gartner research director. “Many of these organizations are now using cloud to support production environments and business-critical operations."

IT leaders shared with CIO.com their experiences and lessons learned in making a strategic shift to the public cloud.

IoT on the cloud regulates store temperature

Extending a long-running strategic partnership, Walmart is using Microsoft's Azure cloud software as a key component of its digital transformation, which includes tapping into machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence and internet of things (IoT) to improve business operations and business outcomes.

For example, Walmart is building an IoT platform on Azure to analyze data streaming from thousands of HVAC and refrigeration sensors, which could help reduce energy consumption across the retailer’s 5,000 stores, says Walmart CIO Clay Johnson. Using data based on the number of people in its stores at a given time, Walmart can automatically adjust the air conditioning. Walmart also expects to run ML algorithms on Azure to optimize the routes of its delivery trucks.

Johnson says Walmart will also move applications for HR and finance to Azure, making them more agile and in turn helping the company's 2.3 million employees make smarter decisions. "It all goes back to Azure," Johnson says, adding that he expects Microsoft’s cloud will spur innovation for both companies. "We’ll learn from them and they’ll learn from us."

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