Some innovations become part of a storyline that arcs from \u201cvisionary\u201d to \u201ccomical.\u201d\n\n\nTake the cloud, for instance. Here\u2019s what technology writer Nicholas G. Carr had to say about what we\u2019ve come to call the \u201ccloud\u201d in his 2003 article "IT Doesn\u2019t Matter":\n\n\n\n\u201cMore and more, companies will fulfill their IT requirements simply by purchasing fee-based 'Web services' from third parties\u2014similar to the way they currently buy electric power or telecommunications services.\u201d\n\n\n\nThis was three years before the launch of Amazon AWS and seven before Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declared \u201cThis is the bet for the company\u2026 For the cloud, we're all in.\u201d\n\n\nAt the time, straddling the fence on the disruptive potential of the cloud was totally excusable \u2014 visionary even, some might say. Today, it\u2019s ludicrous.\n\n\nAcross the board, the verdict is in: when it comes to the cloud, the stakes are too high to sit on the fence.\n\n\nConsider this: according to recent findings by UBS, more than one in three cloud users report cost savings in excess of 40 percent by the second year of adoption, and nearly all cloud users reported savings of more than 20 percent by year two.\n\n\nAnd that\u2019s just the cost savings. Beyond the economics of the cloud, it\u2019s a matter of competitiveness. In other words, making the most of what cloud has to offer has now become table stakes for companies competing in today\u2019s markets.\n\n\nTo assess this, my company Apigee surveyed 800 IT decision makers in companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue and found that more than 80 percent agreed with the statement \u201cthe types of external resources available to IT have changed a lot over the past five years.\u201d\n\n\nWe also used the performance of respondents\u2019 companies when it came to delivering mobile apps \u2014 a must-do for every enterprise \u2014 as a benchmark to assess the impact of a taking wait-and-see approach versus making the most of new resources.\n\n\nAdditionally, we asked those who made use of external resources for supporting app delivery in the past year \u2014 ie. people, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) or Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) \u2014 to rate the degree of impact external resources had on cost, time and business value from negative 100 percent to plus 100 percent.\n\n\nWe divided respondents into three groups, based on other profile questions:\n\n\n\nThose who rated strategic use of cloud as something \u201cextremely relevant\u201d to their company\u2019s competitive position over the next five years (\u201cStrategic Cloud Users\u201d)\n\n\n\n\nThose who both rated cloud \u201cextremely relevant\u201d to their company\u2019s competitive position and reported already adopting of IaaS and PaaS ahead of the average across all 800 companies (\u201cCloud Power Users\u201d)\n\n\nAnd a composite of the two for the average.\n\n\nThe balance of risk and reward is stark. Compared to those who haven\u2019t both embraced the cloud as strategic and taken action on it as they have, Cloud Power Users report between 1.6\u20132.4 times the benefit from external resources. They also report a dramatic reduction in external resources that turn out to be a liability.\n\n\n\nIt is tempting to resort to parody to illustrate reasons why, but a YouTube video of one team racing to stand up a physical server versus another making an AWS or Azure API call seems fitting. Entertaining as that might be though, it\u2019s not so far from the truth when it comes to life-or-death issues for enterprise IT right now. \u00a0\n\n\nUltimately, digital competitiveness requires acting like a software company. That means mastering continuous delivery, APIs and devops \u2014 which in turn means making the most of cloud. Michael Cot\u00e9, someone I\u2019ve known and respected since I began embracing cloud, and who is now at Pivotal, explained this well at Gartner\u2019s Application Architecture, Development, and Integration Summit.\n\n\nLikewise, in Geoffrey Moore\u2019s seminal Crossing the Chasm, innovations reach the Late Majority at 50 percent penetration and the Laggards at 84 percent. The same UBS report referenced above states that today 65 percent of companies have some degree of IaaS and PaaS usage, which will rise to 90 percent within two years. In so many words: the time has come.\n\n\nA decade ago, a full-on embrace of cloud may have been considered \u201cskating to where the puck was going to be.\u201d Today, anything but going \u201call in\u201d is like skating toward where your grandfather\u2019s memoirs say the puck might once have been.\n\n\nThe case for cloud is no longer a matter of \u201cpro\u201d vs \u201ccon.\u201d It\u2019s \u201cpro\u201d vs \u201ccomical.\u201d So hop on the bus and start driving \u201ccloud first\u201d and \u201ccloud native\u201d practices in your organization, before it\u2019s too late.