Cloud—it’s all the rage, with enterprises everywhere adopting new strategies to migrate their applications and systems to the cloud. But companies that think of the cloud simply as a cost-effective data server in the sky are missing out on its true benefits: as a platform for rapid innovation.

Why is this so important? Because innovation is the name of the game today, and companies that don’t innovate risk being disrupted by those that do. And it’s not just start-ups like Uber and Airbnb that are innovating and disrupting industries. Large, more-established players are doing it too; witness Amazon’s plans to transform health care and the health insurance industry, teaming with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form an independent health care company for their U.S. employees. 

Another company that understands the importance of innovation is Netflix, which used it to disrupt not only the video-rental industry but its own business model as well. As odd as it might sound, Netflix wasn’t that different from a traditional brick-and-mortar shop. It shipped DVDs through the mail, with an IT architecture centered around an Oracle-based datacenter. Yet the company had the foresight to radically transform its technology architecture to enable a streaming video model; that led to a new approach in systems development, leveraging devops tool automation. It now runs on the cloud—which was the most natural landing platform for its new business model.

In fact, innovation is becoming so fast and cheap that companies that make it part of their DNA will be the disruptors, overthrowing those that don’t. That’s why leading companies across industries—from financial services to resources, to retail—understand the need for a rapid innovation and experimentation platform. And while cloud plays a key role in enabling this, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.