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Coming back from a customer meeting right now… we are wondering why in customer meetings in Europe we stick again and again to a discussion about:

  • Security @ Cloud
  • Availability @ Cloud
  • Compliance @ Cloud

while in meetings with our US customers we get right to the heart of a discussion around:

  • What are the capabilities?
  • What is the business value?
  • How can I add value to my company/department/to me?
  • more

As we regularly meet customers from all regions and most of the industries  – this is something where we can easily compare. As our Cloud Co-Innovation team also frequently  participates in events like roundtables, discussion forums, expert sessions, … from different organizations – events like e.g. #Bitkom, #CeBit , #ASUG , #DSAG (user groups) and others… we were discussing this observation internally for a while now.

Let us share some thoughts…

Whenever we joined european conferences lately, more or less the whole day still was consumed by the questions around: “How secure is the cloud”. Don´t get us wrong, this is an important topic and there is nothing wrong if a customer is interested in data and process security.  Check out the latest #Wisegate survey of IT Leaders revealing cloud computing here.

Also discussions about the location of a datacenter (e.g. especially in light of US regulations and access to data from 3rd party) fires up the need for a clear position in this respect and does not leave room for any grey zones or fuzzy statements. It is for good reasons that we have significantly invested in our infrastructure to deliver the entire service chain in best way – in a One-STOP-shopping experience. And it tremendously helps delivering innovation to our customers in the desired speed when hosting, managed services, cloud services and SaaS development works hand in hand.

But this question about data security does not explain the difference mentioned above in a sufficient way. There must be more… You can also see a couple of analysts research pieces, all stating regional difference between US , EMEA and Asia-Pacific among decision makers. Respondents answered differently to the question, “who made the purchase decisions for SaaS within the organization?” EMEA and Asia/Pacific indicated the largest percentage of decisions were jointly made by business and IT, but in North America, more than 50% said executives or corporate managers made the majority of decisions. If this is the case than we don´t have a regional but cultural difference in the way decisions are made. It is not a difference between North America and EMEA, it is a difference in the group who is doing the decision.

If we translated this to the SaaS market, does it mean a cloud solution is a “Line of business” tool and not an IT manager tool?

We are sure everybody, who is in the cloud business is aware that cloud is perfectly designed for a Line of Business / department. Highly scalable systems allows a land and expand strategy. Start small and farm the adoption. This is obviously something where Line of business can start modeling their processes without further need of IT. And the license model with typical pay/use scenarios also allows to go fully OPEX (Operational Expenditure) instead of applying for IT investment budgets (CAPEX: Capital Expenditure). So far so good, unfortunately this usually kicks back at a certain point in time, when it comes to data and process integration outside the department on an enterprise level.

While we were thinking about that problem we ran into a publication of Dr Sabrina Mallon-Gerland, “Towards an Appropriate Framework for Teaching Pragmatics in Business English”

She worked out the differences in project management within international organizations. For us this immediately made perfect sense, when we adopted the idea and renamed the groups to “Line of Business” and “IT Department”.

A Line of business organization typically starts with a “We can” approach and a rough Plan. Further problem identification is a step later – an “implementation activity”, not before. IT will ask different questions. Line of Business is interested in quickly solving a problem, while IT is trained to see the whole picture upfront. IT department starts with a conceptual phase, issue are anticipated, logistics are planned before they go to action. But once this is done A Plan Becomes A Contract.

There are often some arguments, that IT is against SaaS in general, because this would take control away. We don´t believe in this and we can mentioned lots of interactions with IT organizations who are keen that commodity tasks are taken away from them and they can focus on real challenges.

For example:

The CIO of a large European organization explained it in a meeting with the well known car example. A hundred years ago driving a car yourself was simply not possible. To drive, manage and maintain it you needed a chauffeur. Today we drive far more complex and faster cars ourself. And it is no problem. Maintenance intervals of 25.000km are the new normal instead of 20 km a hundred years ago. With IT he does see it similar (obviously in less than a hundred years J). Who sticks to the chauffeur (the existing landscape) to long instead of giving commodities into experts hands will loose momentum and companies´ value.

Finally to deploy and socialize a SaaS solution in a global deployment model, it is highly recommended to anticipate at least basic questions. Because often IT is now in charge to ensure the data and process integrity of different systems. Nevertheless it sometimes lead to success to also tolerate a “Seed and Grow” strategies from time to time.

SaaS still has some way to go and needs to keep building trust – especially around security, availability, integratebility, portability. But the cloud offers excellent new opportunities for companies regarding TCO, speed of deployment, ease of use, scalability. You just have to read the fine print or rely on a trusted supplier… 

Bert Schulze (@BeSchulze) and Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)

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