After all that COVID-accelerated cloud adoption and competition, respondents in one survey were facing growing pressure to juggle multiple simultaneous priorities

In quantitative research in November 2022 conducted with 1,300 “director-level and above” tech and data leaders across IT, IT infrastructure, cloud infrastructure and data engineering departments in nine markets on cloud complexity challenges, respondents were attributing poor IT performance, losses in revenue and barriers to business growth to the impact of increasingly complex IT environments. 

The respondents, hailing from the USA, parts of EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UK) and APAC (India, Japan, Singapore, and Australia/New Zealand), were beneficiaries of cloud adoption in that it had accelerated innovation and agility. However, many were now under pressure to rethink how they can manage efficiency and security in the post-COVID era that had levelled the digital transformation of the playing field. 

Three key findings were summarized from the research:

    1. Cloud complexity: reaching a tipping point
      Data complexity had reached a boiling point for respondents, who were feeling the pressure to contain its impact on the business. However, technical and organizational challenges may stunt their cloud strategies, with 88% citing working across cloud environments as a barrier, while 32% were struggling just to align on a clear vision at the leadership level.

      At the global level, respondents of the following regions listed their top concern if data complexity was not managed:

      • Cybersecurity: France, Spain, and Australia/New Zealand
      • Leadership skepticism: France, Spain, Japan
      • Inefficient (tech) usage across the organization: Australia/New Zealand
      • Lack of visibility: Japan

      Among APAC respondents, the top business impacts due to increasing complexity of data across their cloud environments were: increased skepticism from leadership over the cloud (47%), staff not taking full advantage of business applications (47%), increased cybersecurity risk (45%), and lack of visibility into business operations (41%).

    2. Respondents’ organizations want cloud results now
      Sustainability had become an unexpected cloud-driver, with nearly eight in 10 respondents citing ESG outcomes as critical to their cloud strategy. However, return on investment (ROI) was a concern among leadership, with 84% of respondents indicating their cloud strategy was already expected to show results across the organization. Also:

      • 49% of global respondents indicated that when cloud strategy discussions happened, cost concerns came up “often” or “all the time”.
      • Data regulation and compliance was another cloud driver, with various local regulations promoting their multi-cloud strategy “most” or “some of the time”.
      • In APAC, 86% of respondents were already expected to show results across the organization. The pressure to already show ROI on cloud investment was highest in India and Singapore, where nine out of 10 tech executives affected.
      • 80% of APAC respondents indicated that their cloud systems were developed with sustainability goals specifically in mind. Within the region, Singapore (72%) and Japan (69%) led in featuring cloud prominently in their sustainability strategies.
      • 75% of APAC respondents indicated their multi-cloud strategy was driven by data sovereignty requirements.

    3. AI considered as a possible solution Some 37% of respondents indicated that, within the next year, half or more of their cloud deployments were expected to be supported by AI-driven applications. Also:

      • Nearly half of respondents from the smaller firms (those with < 250 employees) expected to reach the 50% mark within the next year, and 63% by 2030, while larger companies lag.
      • At the global level, respondents from the US led those from EMEA and APAC on plans to deploy AI-driven cloud applications in the next year, with France and Japan as outliers in their regions.
      • 56% of APAC respondents indicated that “half or more” of their cloud deployments were expected to be supported by AI-driven applications by 2030.
      • “Scaling AI” was the top priority in EMEA and APAC, but it was second in the US, behind “meeting regulatory compliance”.

According to Matthew Swinbourne, CTO, Cloud Architecture, NetApp (Asia Pacific), which commissioned the survey: “APAC leaders today recognize the cloud’s importance in producing critical business outcomes such as data sovereignty and sustainability. By addressing the cloud complexity confronting their organizations, they can unlock the best of the cloud and innovate faster to compete.”