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What's the one thing all organizations have in common? They must identify new ways to grow revenue and expand their business to stay competitive.

Increasingly, organizations are using cloud computing and social networking to help them embrace new market opportunities.

Over the past several years cloud computing has matured to a point where it's considered a mainstream technology service. The benefits can seem endless. It helps to reduce IT costs, it's easy to set up, scales to your business' storage needs seamlessly, provides customers, partners and employees with remote access from anywhere at anytime, it's secure and security-rich. Expected to grow to more than $214 billion by 2020, cloud computing has become a catalyst for capturing new business value.

Similarly, social networking for business has exploded over the past several years. Forrester Research reports that the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion. Once viewed as a tool for students and teens to connect with one another, businesses are now adopting similar concepts to better connect their employees, partners and clients and to transform globally. These organizations are transforming into social business as every department, from HR to marketing to product development to customer service to sales, are using social networking the way they use any other tool and channel to do their job.

They're integrating social networking tools into traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done and to create business value. They're deepening customer relationships, generating new ideas faster, identifying expertise, enabling a more effective workforce and ultimately driving their bottom line.

Imagine what could happen if you were to marry cloud computing and social networking.

Many organizations, of all shapes, sizes and industry, are already doing so and creating significant business value.

For example, within the RICOH Company, Ltd., an international supplier of office and industrial equipment, the Business Development Center is collaborating in the cloud creating products faster with an expected improvement in cycle time for new product introduction of 20 percent. Chefs at Newly Weds Foods, a world leader in food ingredient technology, have reduced department travel and meeting costs by 10 percent. Strategic Decisions Group (SDG), an international strategy consulting firm, has also achieved more than 60 percent cost reduction in their Asia Pacific e-mail system costs, all thanks to using cloud services.

Colleagues in Care' Global Healthcare Network (CIC) is using social networking tools in the cloud to virtually connect medical workers and volunteers from around the globe. Using this technology, the volunteers and those on the front lines taking care of patients are armed with an online medical knowledge system that includes treatment options, clinical pathways, and best practices specific to the situation in Haiti. For example, doctors on the ground in Haiti now have immediate access to information. Previously, a healthcare worker typically had no access to a specialist to consult about a specific medical condition. They can now immediately determine how to best care for a patient directly in front of them, at the same time collaborating with colleagues to determine more population-based strategies of effective care.

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Colleagues In Care is using IBM cloud-based social analytics and collaboration services to provide their global network of healthcare volunteers with immediate access to critical data and information for the current healthcare needs of the Haitian citizens.

Organizations like Colleagues in Care, Neiman Marcus, University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), Strategic Decisions Group (SDG), Hindustan Motors, Bonduelle and Apave have chosen the cloud to help drive social business adoption across the enterprise. These organizaions are seamlessly collaborating, sharing information and ideas, resulting in increased efficiency, improved productivity and in the case of CIC changing the very fabric of healthcare delivery in an areas devastated by earthquake.

Social and cloud are opportunities that organizations are realizing can't be missed, they're becoming must-haves that businesses can't ignore. Have you taken advantage?

 
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