Cloud – that great, all-encompassing solution to solve all IT problems. This is what many IT companies and departments would have you believe. But that’s not always the case.
Cloud can address some imminent challenges that companies face, such as replacing aging hardware or placing a ‘cost-per-user’ model onto your email requirements, giving more flexibility, but these decisions in isolation do not make for strategy.
An IT strategy in isolation of a business strategy does little to address the business challenges, nor does it help realise the real benefits that Cloud can produce. We fully appreciate that any IT strategy will seriously look at the financial return on investment and total cost of ownership models as part of the expected diligence, but really this is only part of the story.
Cloud as technology
Why does a disjointed approach happen so frequently? We believe that organisations generally see Cloud as a technology, rather than a core business component. Organisations look to the IT department to decipher and work out how best to make use of this ‘technology’, with commercial governance applied by the finance department. The reality is every department has a stake in this and should be more involved in the strategy.
Organisations have put a lot of time into refining processes to line up with IT procurement and business processes surrounding the design build and support of IT systems.
The amount of time this takes has historically been a source of frustration for business departments who wish to be agile and responsive. The blame for this is often apportioned to the IT department as they are often viewed as key to the progress of initiatives which require technology in their solutions.
IT are often required to measure business success, but with a large disconnect in the business requirements and pressure on the IT department to deliver quickly, this often leads to conflict. As a result, many projects fail before completion.
Cloud as a business enabler
Cloud is often relegated to tactical projects as outlined above. Email is an easy decision if you are looking to upgrade anyway. And what does this give you? A new place to put your inboxes with a new interface and is managed easily and remotely. Plus, that budget-ready ‘cost-per-user’ number that finance needs. Is this success? Possibly. Measurable? Perhaps not. The financial impact is, but when has a new email system really delivered business benefit that can be measured?
Marketing in the Cloud
The Cloud allows departments like marketing to work more effectively and gives them the chance to build campaigns around new-to-market products quickly and tear them down again just as quick. They can respond to the success, or failure, of each campaign by providing more or less capacity to each campaign.
Every department should be able to align the needs of their departments with the technology they use which should be front-and-centre to any discussion around Cloud. This is only possible if you have a business strategy aligned to an IT strategy for the various aspects of Cloud provision. This is not a new concept, this has been the case since before Cloud was established. It’s just the parameters like execution, speed and payment mediums have changed.
Governance is a vital element in Cloud application, in much the same way as it was traditionally. This needs to be aligned to the speed and agility that are the real benefits to Cloud. It is no use having a technology available to deliver flexible, affordable performance if you still cannot get sign-off on the security model or do not have a support strategy in place.
To achieve success, getting these things agreed upfront will allow organisations to make quicker decisions. Keeping the Cloud discussion isolated to the IT department will only ever allow for tactical decisions to be made. The cycle of assessment will be the same every time. This is time-consuming and will generally have little return on investment, compared to having a clear business and IT strategy prior to commencement.
An example of technology and business synergies
The head of a field engineer department needs to collate information in real time while the team is out in the field. The existing proprietary devices used are clunky, heavy and unreliable. As a solution, the team switch to company mobile phones that are already issued. The organisation replaces the devices with an application which interacts with the camera on the phone allowing for easy updates to be captured and sent. If the phone is lost or broken, they are still less expensive to replace than the previous devices. They can be wiped easily and the application remotely uploaded to the new phone quickly and without physical intervention. This also allows for automatic updates, meaning the app is always running at the latest version, so support time is reduced.
The manager of the team doesn’t care about the Cloud. The only concern is the accurate and efficient collation of data. Previously data uploads were performed at the end of a period in the office. This added hours to the team’s work times. Now, they can upload from anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection.
This solution stemmed from business requirements being applied to the business and IT strategy around technology solution provision. The process of technology selection was easy for the IT department given the known security implications of the solution against the Cloud service provider’s offering. The build and implementation was supported by a third-party team and the procurement department was able to purchase the necessary components as per the specifications under existing agreements.
It should be noted that many of these steps are what you would normally follow when working through a business challenge that requires a technology solution. The major differences now stem from the amount of options available to anyone looking to deliver that solution. This applies added pressure to your already stretched departments. Doing this as well as the core business jobs only adds to the time it takes to get things done and time is a commodity that we do not have enough of. Experts such as Auxilion take a lot of that confusion out of the equation by partnering with customers to help them identify the most suitable approach.
Auxilion is equally comfortable approaching Cloud from a technology and business perspective. We spend a great deal of time with business leaders discussing why this convergence between IT and business is so important. With the pace of change increasing every day, many agree that getting an executable strategy in place that encompasses new delivery and provision mediums is critical. If would you like to speak to one of our Cloud consultants, click here to get in touch.