Oh, what a difference a year makes! Just last February, we discussed the emergence of the three clouds, in the article, “The Best of Both Clouds.” Since that blog entry, the three clouds continue to grow in popularity, thanks to businesses large and small turning to the cloud, and IT outsourcing for Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

In his recent article, “Business Cloud Deployment: Does Size Matter?” former Aberdeen Research senior analyst Dick Csaplar reported that 63 percent of large enterprises (1,000 employees or more), 43 percent of mid-size businesses (100 to 1,000 employees), and nearly 3 in 10 small businesses (less than 100 employees) have deployed cloud services to assist their IT managers in their cloud strategy and implementation challenges.

Clouds have offered freedom never before possible. There’s no need to deploy physical resources to perform labor-intensive and repetitive tasks. The paradigm has changed. IT no longer needs to spend the majority of its time ensuring the locomotive (infrastructure) is pulling strong.

Outsourcing, especially cloud-based outsourcing, now enables IT managers to perform value-added tasks that lead to meaningful business outcomes, in addition to anywhere, anytime, hassle-free collaboration for employees and business partners.

Why the movement from deployment to business outcomes? Perhaps the answer can be found in the top trend in the recently-published “Top 7 Communication Trends Driving Services in 2014“:

“Businesses extend deeper into the cloud. Most early cloud initiatives were tactical, focused on vetting vendor capabilities and testing discrete, non-core processes in the cloud. Now as more businesses make capital expense vs. operating expense spending decisions, organizations that choose the cloud option, whether through a private, public or hybrid model, will see a shift in how their IT organizations operate. IT functions will focus less on delivery and support of technology and instead spend more time as technology advisers and enablers.”

Jim Noble, former CIO of General Motors and author of The CIO’s Secret Playbook, says today’s IT manager can exercise “business-on-business outcomes” by leveraging cloud speed to “enter a new market, or develop a new product, or have a different segmentation,” with the need “to build a data center over the next 18 months.”

Focusing on business outcomes rather than “silent running operations” has led to “transformational outsourcing,” according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers:

“In essence, cloud lets you say yes more often. Imagine that you could green-light as many as a half dozen new research and development (R&D) projects instead of betting on just one or two…. Rather than weeks or months, the supporting infrastructure for a project could be set up in just a few days. That kind of rapid start-up means companies could try many new ideas, quickly rejecting ones that weren’t viable in favor of ones that are most promising.”

For too long, IT managers have had to concern themselves with issues related to maintenance and delivery, rather than business outcomes. As Gartner documented in 2012, “a disconnect remains between the way many organizations pursue enterprise-architecture (EA) and the impact of EA on the business, which prevents EA from delivering business value.” Those days have finally come to an end.

Rather than having to perform the grunt work necessary to maintain the “locomotive” (infrastructure) pulling the train, IT managers can now focus on services and product outcomes that are most wanted by the “passengers” (customers). This shift from delivery to business outcomes will have a profound impact on IT going forward, especially as “The Great Thaw” continues.

What services/solutions will your department likely shift to the cloud in 2014?

How will your IT organization drive more business outcomes in 2104?