It wasn’t all that long ago when one of the key drivers behind cloud adoption was cost savings. But nowadays, the ability to obtain business agility and to reduce complexity has taken center stage.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, business agility is the leading cause of cloud computing adoption, as cited by 32% of the 527 executives surveyed among large and midsized companies around the world. Other factors that are driving cloud adoption include increased innovation (14%), lower costs (14%), along with the ability to scale up and down in response to demand (13%).

Although some organizational leaders have been cautious or resistant to cloud adoption due to a lack of understanding or concerns regarding the potential risks, including security, business continuity, and regulatory compliance issues, others are seizing upon opportunities to increase the speed of business and other benefits.

In fact, according to aggressive adopters in the HBR survey, 49% say they’ve entered a new market within the past four years. Meanwhile, 37% say their organization’s use of the cloud has enabled it to simplify internal operations while 31% says it has led to new ways for employees to work, connect, and collaborate.

CIOs who embrace the cloud can help deliver significant value to their organizations through greater flexibility. For instance, as companies increasingly shift towards data-driven decision-making, the use of the cloud can enable business leaders and other knowledge workers to gather, analyze, share, and act on a wider variety of data sources. This can lead to more informed decision-making regarding customer and market trends.

For example, business leaders for an energy companies can collect usage data from residential, commercial, and industrial customers to determine which ones are the most attractive candidates for specific smart grid technologies and services. Meanwhile, executives for a hospitality company that has recently entered a new geographic market can use consumer data generated from the cloud to identify prospective customers that it would likely have the greatest success targeting and converting.

CIOs can also recommend the use of the cloud for helping the enterprise to improve go-to-market speed for new products and services. For instance, an automotive manufacturer that’s entering a new market can quickly add applications and systems support to sales and service managers and scale support quickly and easily.

Business is more dynamic than ever. CIOs who are able to embrace the cloud and articulate its strengths to other members of the C-suite can further demonstrate their value to the enterprise. As Bobby Patrick, CMO, HP Cloud points out in an HMG Strategy video, “Agility is one of those foundational words that IT not only has to embrace by word but actually implement a platform on and deliver to make sure that a company can be competitive for the next 20 years.”