30 June is Cloud Stocktake Time! 30 June is traditionally a time to assess, reflect, and plan the new financial year. An effective part of this cycle is considering how your business can be more efficient, provide greater customer value or go to another level. Cloud solutions can solve these types of challenges, with leverage to deliver you competitive advantage, quickly. It offers a tempting mix of opportunity and risk, which we are going to analyse. Forbes online predicts the end user spend this space of $180 Billion Forbes Online. Growing in excess of 20 percent each year, delivering value globally and quickly to many.

The rational for change is clear, in this IBM infographic the key reasons are summarised nicely.

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The business case for Cloud solutions:

  1. Improved visibility turning data into insight;
  2. Collaboration and cooperation across the business;
  3. Tailored approach to solutions;
  4. Rapid innovation of products and services; and
  5. Proven results

The considerations for cloud, requires assessing what is right for you against the appropriate risk posture. Be it allowing individuals in your business to manage the features and capabilities of the service quickly by themselves, without necessarily involving the internal IT department. There’s increased potential to collaborate and share work with others globally, its about pace and connectivity as a key order.  With the evolution of ‘low code’ solutions, this means that a mosaic of capability can be pieced together, at speed, to deal with any unique process requirement of any business.

We see what technology can do in our personal lives, our favourite applications and the value they deliver. As a result there’s a rising expectation on internal Technology services across our organisations. Yes, its should be simple. However, often existing technology becomes a handbrake. Lets consider some cloud services you may have been exposed to, and spark what is possible.

Cloud based collaboration and automation technologies we use everyday, are examples that opens a window to the possible.

Collaboration technologies:

  • Enabling employees to collaborate eg. through online presentations using Google Presentation or Skype conferencing
  • Enabling easy feedback and refinement of work eg. Screencasts and via Google Docs
  • Enabling teams to virtually collaborate with each other for planning purposes. Eg. OneNote on OneDrive, SharePoint
  • Enabling quick and easy survey for feedback and reflection eg. Google Forms

Automate and support technologies:

  • Enabling clients to book and pay online for events, seminars or training eg. Trybooking or eventbright
  • Document management and version control across the organisation eg. SharePoint
  • Enabling records to be kept and accessed across a range of devices and platforms – eg. OneNote, Evernote
  • Enabling sets of capabilities to be pieced together, like a mosaic, referred to commonly as “low code” solutions. Anything from your Customer relationships management tools to delivery of services and products workflows then flowing into accounting software or content management tools. The options are endless

Access to my files, from any device, through a Dropbox account or planning and organising team project activity through Trollo are tangible examples to me why  enterprise scale applications can be, an extension of, how easy deployment can be. Considering of course the risks; integration, change management, security and access controls all need to be considered and mitigated.

Now, lets consider some of the risks in using cloud solutions:

  • That sensitive/personal data shared in the cloud is abused by an unauthorised third party. Data can be obtained in the following ways;
    • Breach of data security and privacy from the user or provider end,
    • A lack of appropriate encryption and firewall techniques leading to external hacking and cyber-attacks
    • Theft by internal cloud services personnel
    • Physical intrusion of service providers data center/premises
    • Loss of exclusive access to data residing in different countries. Foreign laws and regulations may permit access to data by government agencies i.e. US Patriot Act
  • Reliance on cloud service providers that could become unreliable, transient, acquired or are financially not viable. This is typically the case with smaller cloud service providers and startups
  • Loss of central control by tyour business ege (too many different tools operating at once)
  • Not all cloud services will have the data recovery mechanisms and retention policies that are currently provided by your company’s internal services. When using cloud applications this responsibility is usually moved to the end user and can be limited and over-simplified
  • Cloud services might not integrate with each other, meaning that information remains disconnected
  • Generally in most medium to large size enterprises there are integration and change risks to plan for
  • Impossible to access or delete all of company related information in the event of an employee resignation or dismissal if the user account details are not synchronised with company via a Single Sign-On mechanism.  Some of the larger cloud services providers like Microsoft and Google support single sign-on account synchronisation.  Most other smaller providers like Evernote, DropBox etc do not

30 June is Cloud stocktake time, and for some planning the budget for next year. Has your digital agenda been given life? Release the handbrakes of risk with active mitigation, reach for the opportunity to adapt your business with cloud.

 

You can’t be half committed!

A time to consider, head into the end of the financial year for this year, do you understand the risks cloud in your plan for next year? 30 June is Cloud Stocktake Time – Here is a reminder count down.