Want to innovate faster? Then it’s time to get your head into the cloud.

The true value of the cloud software is not that it’s a cheaper alternative to hardware, but that it is a fast and flexible environment where innovation can flourish – for both traditional companies and companies born in the digital era.

Proof the Cloud Powers Innovation

“Fail fast” is a common mantra throughout Silicon Valley and the larger world of entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to product development. This concept supports the idea that if you can fail fast, you have the opportunity to remedy those failures early on — and more efficiently.

But to do that, you need to have a faster cadence of product innovation. The cloud has created a world where that is possible. Before the cloud, releasing new business features or applications took years to develop and reach the larger market. Now, companies can try out features in a matter of months and pivot quickly – effectively giving cloud-based companies a tremendous head start over laggard companies bogged down by legacy, old-school technology. Not only does it speed up innovation, but also deepens the relationship between vendors and customers. With the ability to pivot and address immediate feedback from customers, they have a firmer grasp of what truly delivers value to their customer base.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen firsthand how companies have used the cloud to outsmart competitors. Take a look at Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and their startup comrades of the world. They have significantly faster innovation cycles compared to old travel booking or cab companies. Armed with faster innovation cycles they can throw out iterations of their products and tailor them so they are easier to use, easier to consume and ultimately a superior service.

These cloud-powered companies are like speedboats — nimble and quick to adjust to changes in the environment. Whereas their counterparts are like huge tankers— if they turn the steering wheel to change course, the effect is delayed.

Seek Out Green Fields

So how can the tankers, function more like nimble speedboats? Too often these traditional businesses seek to integrate data from legacy technology into the cloud, before making changes and focusing on innovative features or services. Doing so sucks up time and results in missed opportunities.

It’s time to reverse this flow.

Today’s companies can exploit cloud resources to foster ingenuity. The cloud allows companies to scale economically and lowers management and maintenance requests so teams have more time and resources to spend on innovate initiatives.

Specifically, it speeds up the innovation cycle. Traditional companies should seek out open space where they can test out new ideas without the constraints of existing technology infrastructures. Then, they can spend time copying and integrating data, rather than navigating IT roadblocks.

For example, a huge financial institution looking to keep pace in today’s mobile-first world, should allow space for the company to test out a new mobile banking application that doesn’t need to adhere to or leverage existing technology investments. If the app proves to be successful, then they can backfill and spend time solving data integration challenges.

The faster and more flexible your innovation cycle is, the more successful you will be. Cloud-based technologies afford you more time to devote toward innovation, and time is the only thing you can’t buy with money.

To stay relevant traditional companies must stop viewing the cloud as simply a means to improve bottom lines, and instead reframe its value as the machine powering today’s unprecedented innovation.

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