How the growing cloud economy is creating jobs and fueling innovation

Peter Schwartz Profile picture for user pschwartz September 20, 2021
We're undergoing one of the biggest transformations in business history, says Salesforce's Peter Schwartz. Are you ready?


It happened after the Great Depression. It happened after World War II. And it will happen again in the wake of an unprecedented global pandemic. Over the next several years, we will see a massive upsurge in global economic growth and innovation. The move to an all-digital, work-anywhere world will only accelerate, creating fertile ground for businesses to blossom and new roles to emerge.

One of the biggest areas of expansion will be cloud computing. According to this year’s IDC Salesforce Economy study, cloud-related technologies are expected to account for a quarter of digital transformation IT spending in 2021, growing to 37% in the next five years. Specifically, IDC predicts that the Salesforce economy will produce $1.6 trillion in economic impact by 2026. That means revenues for the Salesforce ecosystem will be 3.5 times what they were in 2020.

This massive growth is rooted in the fact cloud computing is critical to the process of digital transformation. We are moving toward a remarkable emphasis on connection and collaboration in every sphere of life — from retail to education to healthcare. Companies are looking for new ways to seamlessly engage with customers, partners and internally, and they’re turning to cloud computing to free up IT resources and enable business innovation.

Preparing for the jobs of the future

As businesses evolve, jobs will shift as well. Companies will be hunting for people skilled in using the latest tools and implementing digital transformation. The Salesforce economy alone will create an estimated 9.3 million new jobs by 2026, according to IDC. Nearly two-thirds of these jobs are expected to require skills specific to the occupation, such as certification or extensive on-the-job training. On top of this growth, the demands of existing roles will adjust in order to keep up with and propel innovation.

Looking forward, the challenge for companies will be finding the right talent to fill all these positions. Over the past year and a half, companies forced to digitize quickly have undergone technological change at breakneck speed, compressing transitions that would’ve taken place over five years into one or two. Given the pace of change, up-skilling and re-skilling are not efforts for the distant future — they need to take place right now to prevent people from falling behind.

Companies need to equip employees with the skills to communicate and collaborate in a digital-first, hybrid work environment. They need to teach workers not only how to develop and implement new technologies, but even how to navigate them. And they need to arm people with the ability to innovate in this new landscape. This learning will need to be rapid, continuous and delivered in personalized, bite-sized moments. At Salesforce, we were fortunate that Trailhead, our free online learning platform that empowers anyone to skill up for Salesforce jobs, and the Trailblazer Community, which accelerates this learning through peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and support, predated the pandemic. Since COVID-19 hit, Trailhead has seen a nearly 40% increase in sign-ups, and learner engagement has grown by more than 50%.  Three in five members say the Trailblazer Community helped them get a new job or promotion.

Growth meets sustainability

There is no contradiction between driving strong economic growth and becoming a more sustainable enterprise. In fact, both are fueled by innovation. We can apply technology and better practices to become a more sustainable business without sacrificing the bottom line. In turn, those practices create new jobs and even more economic value.

At Salesforce, we’ve committed to ensuring that our supply chain is sustainable. We’re bringing transparency to how we fly, source our supplies, use energy, communicate and more. We’re looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, including by purchasing carbon credits from reputable sustainable forestry companies. We’re rethinking how we relate upstream to our suppliers, downstream to our customers and internally to our employees from the lens of sustainability. And we’re helping others do the same through Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, a platform that helps companies quantify their carbon footprint and take concrete steps to reduce it. Looking ahead, many of the jobs of the future will focus on marrying growth and sustainability.

A time for innovation

We are undergoing one of the biggest transformations in business history. Just like the advent of the steam ship, the telephone and the Internet changed everything, the revolution in connectivity and cloud computing is fundamentally altering how businesses operate. As in other moments of rapid transition, the economic environment of the near future will reward innovation. The businesses that keep experimenting, inventing and reinventing will be the ones that emerge as winners during the coming wave of growth. The focus today should be on ensuring that this growth is sustainable and that people are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

A grey colored placeholder image