Cloud computing clearly is gaining traction but leaving CIOs a little confused about the role of IT in any cloud strategy. Yet, a September study conducted by the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), found that organizations are embracing the cloud at a 15% faster rate than previously forecast.
Of course, you expect members of a leading technology group like ODCA to be early adopters. But what if your client isn’t an early adopter? Deloitte offers a cloud readiness survey to identify inhibitors to cloud adoption here. Capgemini also has a cloud readiness approach here.
Even after management understands what it wants to achieve with cloud computing, the organization still may not be ready. Whatever their interest in cloud computing IDC identifies five questions you should ask them that sets the stage for any cloud deployment.
The questions below are intended to help you guide your organization to what is required of it to effectively leverage cloud computing. Notice how its relationship with IT plays a central role, as it should. BottomlineIT expects cloud options to become just another part of the standard IT capabilities set and will be used to a different extent by almost every organization
1. To What Extent Are IT Resources Used to Support Company Objectives? This gets to the issue of whether IT is an integral part of the company’s strategic thinking. IDC found that almost 60% of midsize firms agree strongly that advanced technology is an important competitive tool when used as a strategic resource. If IT is integral then cloud computing can become a competitive differentiator. The cloud also represents an attractive option for companies that view technology as a way to save money. Although the immediate benefit of cloud technology will be tactical cost and deployment advantages, longer term the strategic implications of cloud capabilities will be even more valuable.
2. How Physically Complicated Is the Company? The number of company locations supported by the current IT infrastructure will be important to consider in any cloud computing implementation. On average, midsize firms have 6.4 locations, with IT staff typically based at headquarters. This can complicate general maintenance and installation of new software and upgrades. With cloud-based software all users run the latest version of hosted applications, simplifying support for multiple locations. In effect, the more locations you have and the more diverse your IT environment, the more the cloud can do for you in coordinating and managing application deployment.
3. What Is the Company’s Pace of Organizational Evolution? How Much Change Is Under Way? The cloud can provide access across the organization to a central set of rationalized technology offerings. While these are easier to manage than multiple legacy approaches, the real benefits come from improvements in worker cooperation and collaboration. And don’t overlook future M&A activities. The integration of IT resources is not among the top concerns in an acquisition until a deal is completed. But then its impact can emerge in very unpleasant ways. For firms undergoing major change cloud engagements today can set the stage for improved organizational flexibility tomorrow. Cloud technology, similarly can facilitate change, allowing midsize companies to add or test new applications or processes without having to expand their IT infrastructure. It also can make enterprise applications available to midmarket companies in an affordable way.
4. How Are Mobile Workers Supported, and Could They Benefit from Access to Cloud-Based Resources? Enhancing worker productivity is a key reason for expanding technology investment and providing access to advanced networking capabilities via the cloud to achieve anytime, anyplace resource access. From an ROI perspective, the mobile worker case for cloud computing can be intuitively compelling, especially if it improves the sales close rate or speeds on-boarding new customers. IDC suggests that even a 5% improvement could translate into an effective financial justification for cloud computing investment.
5. What External Forces Are Encouraging/Discouraging Cloud Computing Adoption? A changing competitive landscape as well as the regulatory environment can provide strong incentives or disincentives for the adoption of cloud computing. Note that external forces will continue to be in a state of flux as cloud computing becomes more widespread. If external forces are discouraging cloud adoption, plan to revisit those attitudes regularly because the increasing adoption and evolution of cloud computing changes attitudes fast.
There also are 3 reasons NOT to adopt cloud computing now: security/compliance, latency, availability. A subsequent post will elaborate on these.