Is your cloud strategy centered on saving money or fueling revenue growth? Where you land on this question could determine a lot about your experience level with cloud services and what guidance you should be giving to your application developers and infrastructure & operations teams. According to our research the majority of CIOs would vote for the savings, seeing cloud computing as an evolution of outsourcing and hosting that can drive down capital and operations expenses. In some cases this is correct but in many the opposite will result. Using the cloud wrong may raise your costs.

But this isn’t a debate worth having because it’s the exploration of the use cases where it does save you money that bears the real fruit. And it’s through this experience that you can start shifting your thinking from cost savings to revenue opportunities. Forrester surveys show that the top reasons developers tap into cloud services (and the empowered non-developers in your business units) is to rapidly deploy new services and capabilities. And the drivers behind these efforts – new services, better customer experience and improved productivity. Translation: Revenues and profits.

If the cloud is bringing new money in the door, does it really matter if it’s the cheaper solution? Not at first. But over time using cloud as a revenue engine doesn’t necessarily mean high margins on that revenue. That’s where your experience with the cost advantaged uses of cloud come in.

There is a discrete thought process and experiential path CIOs go through to reach these conclusions which Forrester has documented in my latest research report, “The Three Stages Of Cloud Economics.” Like many maturity models your organization must gain experience in the first stage to understand and start reaping the gains from the latter two which are where savings turn into profits.

The Three Stage of Cloud Economics

In this report we detail how Netflix and NVoicePay have turned on stage 3 cloud economics and are outplaying their competitors as a result. You can do this too, but not if you remain on the sidelines of cloud computing. Sure, the Amazon Web Services outage gave many an enterprise pause about the cloud, but stage 2 and stage 3 CIOs were unphased by it and are laughing their way to the bank because they know that this news event will push their stage 1 competitors further and further behind them.

You can’t afford to pass up the opportunity cloud computing presents for turning IT from cost center into revenue driver. Get your hands dirty and start evolving your thinking.