Cloud growth is explosive—and that’s because companies of all kinds and sizes have embraced it. According to Gartner, the public cloud service market is expected to grow almost 18% by the end of this year to $214 billion from $182 billion in 2018. Analysts at the market research firm say infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is the fastest-growing segment, followed by its platform-centric cousin (PaaS).
But within the cloud computing space, there’s a segment that’s taking off at an especially accelerated pace: vertical cloud. Also known as industry cloud, it consists of specialized solution subsets—services, applications and best practices that cater to the particular needs of vertical markets such as healthcare, retail, education and financial services.
Analysts at IDC say the industry cloud market is poised to become one of the biggest vertical growth opportunities in the next five years for both technology vendors and professional service firms. Cloud providers such as AWS, Google and Salesforce.com continue to make strides in vertical cloud.
In addition, there are four markets in which vertical cloud solutions are rapidly gaining momentum:
Whether for providers or administrators, cloud provides agility, flexibility and security, which can be hard to come by with on-premises solutions. Cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) systems significantly enhance patients’ experiences, allowing them to make appointments, communicate with providers, and find both general and personal health information online—quickly, easily and privately.
Providers can use cloud solutions for remote patient monitoring and video visits, peer-to-peer collaboration, and improved diagnostics, decision-making and care via artificial intelligence and analytics. Meanwhile, administrators and insurance companies can use cloud systems to streamline operations via paperless billing, self-service payments and consolidated statements that bring together all of a patient’s outstanding balances in one place.
This can be accomplished while allowing healthcare organizations to keep up with evolving payment models and comply with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Analysts at Research and Markets say the retail and consumer-goods industry is one of the fastest-growing verticals when it comes to adopting emerging tech such as cloud, big data analytics and digital stores.
Thanks to cloud computing, retailers can optimize inventory through collaboration with suppliers and visibility into their supply chains, access real-time customer data to personalize the shopping experience and gain deeper insights into their business performance. Ultimately, the cloud can help retailers of every size and stripe streamline operations and reshape the customer experience, leading to increased loyalty and a fatter bottom line.
According to research from Technavio, the global cloud market for education will grow at a compound annual rate of 26% through 2021 as educators and administrators across the teaching spectrum seek to lower costs, enhance productivity and improve the learning experience.
Cloud reduces costs by eliminating the need for textbooks and full-fledged, on-premises hardware infrastructures. Access to grading platforms, specialized software and learning apps, and stored files is available via mobile devices—anytime, anywhere—untethering teachers and students from a hard-wired network and boosting productivity.
Cloud solutions also allow for collaboration among and between teachers, students and administrative staff. Through emerging technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, educational institutions can collect data online and from digital touch points to improve the student experience, customize content for personalized learning, deploy security and surveillance solutions, and give students access to cutting-edge tools for solving real-world problems such as homelessness and climate change.
Consultancy PwC forecasts that the public cloud will be the dominant infrastructure model in this sector in 2020, while MarketsandMarkets predicts that the finance cloud market will grow at a CAGR of more than 24%, reaching almost $30 billion by 2021.
Given that the finance sector is so highly regulated—guided by mandates such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Sarbanes-Oxley—and held to very high standards of data security, protection and privacy, companies in this vertical have to choose their cloud and solution providers carefully. But migrating to the cloud, if done under competent guidance, can yield hefty benefits.
Financial institutions can leverage data analytics and AI to gather customer insights, develop new products and tools, and open the door to new market opportunities. Easy-to-use services that tech-savvy customers can use on demand, complete with self-service and customizable options, allow companies in this sector to vie with their peers in a fiercely competitive market.
Cloud also allows banks, insurance companies and other finance firms to focus on customer acquisition and retention by transforming their delivery strategies and approach to customer relationship management. In addition, they can boost efficiency and streamline the way employees work via cloud-based collaboration, social and unified communications tools.
Solution providers with experience and expertise in specialized markets—deep knowledge of vertical needs, challenges, business models and operations—are best-positioned to optimize cloud solutions so companies in these industries can achieve the specific business outcomes they seek.
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