I’ve looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now: helping LoB and IT “get” Cloud Computing.
With apologies in advance to Joni Mitchell, I suggest that
most businesses “really don’t know cloud computing at all”. Ask individuals if they use Hotmail or Google
Mail and they’ll say yes, but try to get them from that level of engagement to understanding
why part or all of their enterprise running in the cloud is worth considering will
get you mixed results. There is a
learning curve to Cloud Computing, and a multi-pronged business value prop that
is required to help both the line of business and IT understand why they need
to care about and embrace cloud computing.
In addition, as is the case with many paradigm shifts, it isn’t a
one-size fits all value prop.
Defining a line of
business value prop: Rarely, if
ever, will you hear a story of a LoB exec, let’s use an example of a VP of HR,
waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night screaming “I need a cloud-based
solution!”. Each LoB has their own
position on the learning curve of technology – they may have a deep understanding
that legacy technology-anchored solutions are causing the delay in reporting
employee ranking, or they may be oblivious to anything but that they need to
allocate 3 weeks for each review season.
A way to help move them along the learning curve (why cloud, why now, why you), is to help them understand
how the new breed of HR solutions could help them complete all their employee
reviews within 24-72 hours. What would
the tangible benefits be to their team and the enterprise (and the employees)
if they could make this significant time cut? Notice I never said “Cloud” to
our technology neophyte – it wasn’t the right time to introduce the “why cloud
makes it all possible” value prop.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are IT departments
and potentially pockets of LoB personnel that understand the potential of cloud
computing to deliver vast efficiencies, dramatic cost savings, and competitive
advantages to their business. If this is
your environment at work, you can start to accelerate acceptance of cloud
solutions, noting the “cloud computing check marks” (delivery models, upgrades,
long term TCO, short term ROI potential, etc.)
that should be a given with any cloud deployment and then focusing on
the business value of the technology and solution(s) in play. As an example, the ability to on-board and
then off-board temporary employees is of huge value to seasonally focused
retailers (department stores, Halloween stores, etc.) that need to go from
either zero to full staffing, or double their staff within weeks. Cloud based solutions can be a huge advantage
here, and most HR teams engaged would quickly understand the value of having
this solution based in the cloud (and not locked or at risk of interfering with
IT deployment and maintenance schedules).
Finally, one “must have” value prop that legacy businesses
should always keep front of mind is “integration” (legacy = you have been
around a while and are not ready to throw out all your on premise and hybrid
solutions). When you buy a cloud based
solution, you should expect that it can “seamlessly” integrate with the rest of
your enterprise solution(s). If the proposed solution does not have the
necessary hooks, security, support, etc. to be integrated into your existing
infrastructure, then I suggest the value prop of the solution needs to be
orders of magnitude better than what you have running now. Otherwise, all you are doing is adding
another silo’d solution (separate data, separate integration pains) and eventually
you will have to deal with its shortcomings.