From 1998 to Now: How the Cloud Impacted Business Growth


1998 Open source software enters the mainstream and will eventually change the economics of cloud computing and enterprise software.  The Mozilla Project is launched in 1999 becomes the foundation for the creation of Open Source Internet application clients.
1999 Solving the many challenges of improving customer relationships and responsiveness gives the cloud a foothold in the enterprise. Streamlining customer relationships using SaaS applications happens for the first time, and Marketing VPs start buying Salesforce applications out of their operating expense (OPEX) budgets. Salesforce takes nascent steps to increase scale and speed of their apps in the first year of their operations.
2004 Customers begin seeking to have a voice in how products are designed, produced and want a voice in how companies respond to service request more than ever before. Customers seek to have their voices heard clearly and expected a quick response based on their many experiences on social networks.  Web 2.0 technologies are invented in response to these needs and become the basis of customer listening systems and set the foundation for social CRM.
2005 Companies who have generated terabytes of data begin exploring techniques for gaining greater insights and defining strategies to improve their performance. Companies’ analytics maturity begins to accelerate globally, driving the development big data applications, frameworks and tools. Hadoop is invented and becomes an open source big data standard.
2006 Dashboards and reporting needs become more complex, and real-time data capture starts to become the norm, especially for digital marketing. Tracking marketing performance across all websites a company relies on to attract, sell and serve customers in addition to being able to see trends that highlight which strategies are the most effective becomes an urgent need in many businesses. The high price of on-premise applications becomes an inhibitor to the growth of this area. In response, Google launches Google Analytics and within less than two years it is a market standard.
2006 Developers looking to create new apps that address business needs become the catalyst that creates what will become the world’s leading public cloud computing platform.  Amazon Web Services launches with S3 (Simple Storage Device) and EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), targeting a broad spectrum of developers who want to create entirely new apps on the cloud.  In one year, AWS has 180,000 developers signed up for its services and development programs.
2007 Storage options for personal computing are still limited, leaving many people to scramble for an available memory drive (PEM) to take files with them on trips. Drew Huston, MIT student, catches a train and forgets a PEM drive with the files he needs.  He launches DropBox, a low-cost personal storage service in 2007 to solve the problem he and many others faced at the time.
2008 Enterprises begin to select global cloud providers as their exclusive IT partners to enable cloud-first application strategies. Cloud apps provided with platform expertise see the opportunity and begin to develop their entire cloud platforms in response to the market’s needs. Google develops and launches App Engine this year to capture enterprise sales and be the single source of Cloud platform support.
2009 Companies want to preserve their investments in on-premise systems while gaining the speed of the cloud. Google Chrome becomes a default operating system on Chromebooks in response to this need.  Microsoft launches their cloud platform, Microsoft Azure.  
2011 Sales teams rely on their smartphones the majority of the time and attempt to complete quote-to-order cycles entirely remotely.  In response to this need, cloud platforms build out support for mobile devices using Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) that enable all types of mobile phones that have a browser and Web access to use CRM, quoting and pricing systems.
2012 As enterprises’ cloud platforms become more complex and needing increased processing, cloud platforms invest heavily in the infrastructure layers.  As a result of this need, there is exponential growth in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) development, leading this area to be the fastest growing in all of cloud computing.
2013 Businesses and government agencies hit an inflection point and trust the cloud with sensitive data on an enterprise level, spending over $500M on a cloud solution.  AWS is awarded a $600M contract by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
2014 Companies want to integrate the databases they have in public cloud platforms with private clouds that run their native applications. This leads to Hybrid Cloud architectures and security becoming the two most valuable innovations in 2014 as enterprises look to extend their cloud platform use.
2015 Manufacturers looking to expand by acquiring comparable businesses rely on Cloud ERP to integrate all operations into a single, unified strategy. This leads to real-time integration frameworks that are entirely cloud-based including support for two-tier ERP systems capable of optimizing fulfillment and supply networks globally.
2016 Selecting which cloud apps to use in their businesses becomes a challenge of having to deal with many different licenses and legal terms and conditions. As a result of this, an entirely new class of federated marketplaces emerges that allow companies to buy as many applications they want and when, delivered to any device they choose.
2017 Companies and CIOs are struggling to get the most value possible out of the legacy apps, and many start moving their core functions to the cloud.  This strategy of Lift and Shift  takes workloads from legacy systems and places them in the cloud to gain greater processing speed and lower storage cost, and the ability to scale them across a broad range of geographies.

With companies aggressively pursuing greater speed, simplicity and scale in every aspect of their operations, analytics and cloud solutions are increasingly being used to remove roadblocks and foster growth.

One of the most persistent, costly problems companies have is managing their customer relationships. The larger a company gets, the more challenging the problem becomes as new customer segments, new products, new services and new support needs proliferate. Initial attempts to create enterprise-wide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems required customization, intensive spending with professional services, and an annual maintenance fee of 20% or more just to keep the system running. These early CRM systems acted as a barrier instead of a bridge, blocking and slowing down customer responsiveness.

Clouds’ Contributions Begin By Improving Customer Relationships

Customer relationships were the perfect problem for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps and cloud computing platforms to take on. SaaS applications excelled at the areas where on-premise CRM systems were weakest. These areas included enabling greater flexibility in defining the user experience to the screen and workflow level, faster deployment times, and continual application updates often bundled into the cost of the subscription. The evolution of how companies managed their customer relationship problems and attained their goals is a microcosm of how cloud applications wedged into companies fast.

Malik ShahbazFrom 1998 to Now: How the Cloud Impacted Business Growth