Industry clouds lay foundation for innovation

At Cleveland Clinic, CIO Matthew Kull is seeking to marry two vastly different disciplines: medicine and marketing. He’s succeeding with the help of a new industry cloud that takes care of essential tasks for healthcare providers while enabling Cleveland Clinic to look at patients through a marketing lens. “Patients have healthcare records, but they are also customers,” asserts Kull. Considering patients as consumers might seem jarring but doing so paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic when Cleveland Clinic needed to reach out to patients who were skipping cancer screenings, like colonoscopies and mammograms, because they were avoiding hospitals. The famed institution used the CRM capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics, which is part of the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to interact with patients and schedule appointments, Kull explains. Across a broad swath of industries, many organizations are discovering industry clouds that take care of table-stakes needs, freeing them up to innovate in their own ways. “It’s an accelerator, with pre-defined data models and workflow, so your scarce resources don’t have to re-create capabilities that are common to everyone in your industry, and you can focus your energies on things that will differentiate your brand,” says Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “The value [of industry clouds] is not in the competitive aspect. Their role is to solve non-competitive issues. Lots of industry clouds are in regulated areas like healthcare or finance in which companies all have to deal with the same things,” says Nadia Ballard, research manager for industry cloud and SaaS at IDC. Ballard has compiled a directory of some 300 industry-cloud players but is challenged to define the size of the industry-cloud universe. “It’s so young, it’s hard to size the market correctly.” But, she adds, “We know it’s growing super-fast.” 

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