The move to the cloud has been high on the business agenda in recent years; a 2017 RightScale study found that 85% of enterprises are using a hybrid cloud strategy. Few businesses are operating solely in the cloud, as organisations blend public and private cloud services with more traditional on-premise solutions.
63% of businesses, however, plan to move their entire IT infrastructure into the cloud (CIF), indicating the importance of the cloud in business strategy. But there are significant barriers preventing businesses from implementing more cloud solutions.
For many businesses, the move to the cloud marks their first step on their journey towards digital transformation. Full utilisation of the cloud demonstrates a business’ commitment to true business transformation. Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword; 4 out of the 10 current market leaders will be displaced by innovative and agile new businesses that focus on digital transformation, according to the Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation.
A recent Oracle study conducted with business leaders and IT decision makers indicated they are facing a number of challenges when it comes to implementing cloud services. A key finding was that many organisations fail to align business goals with IT projects; 62% of respondents said this affected their ability to implement the cloud and other innovative technologies.
Before a business can digitally transform, it must rethink the role its IT department plays in that transformation. Rather than a necessary ‘break-fix’ solution as it once was, IT is now a strategic resource for businesses and should be the department driving digital innovations. Transformational technology needs to be seen as an investment, and one that can deliver a significant ROI, rather than merely a cost.
The drivers of business transformation often face resistance around the business, from the leadership team to entire departments. Legacy systems and resistance from the teams that use them – largely HR and Finance departments, according to Oracle – present another barrier to integrating cloud services. While integrated cloud services would be an obvious solution, it’s not that easy for IT: 41% cited a lack of understanding around the need for cloud integration from departments outside of IT.
So how can you help the departments stuck on legacy systems to understand the many benefits of the cloud?
It’s important for IT to have total control over the technology purchased and implemented in their businesses. Respondents cited managing shadow IT as a difficulty, whereby departments outside of IT purchase and implement systems and applications without the permission, and often knowledge, of IT. This leads to the aforementioned issue of departments on legacy systems. Even if those systems are more forward-thinking, the integration of other applications isn’t often taken into consideration like it would be if IT headed the project.
By taking control of a business’ entire technology stack, IT can implement a solid technology strategy that encompasses all of the tools and systems necessary to the business. IT can then ensure the business has a base upon which to build innovative technologies – that often comes in the form of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
A key element of getting your resistant departments on board is the ability to prove the benefits of the cloud. An immediate ROI can often be seen in reducing the number of servers your business requires, which in turn reduces the office space needed to store them. Take Dynamics 365 for example. A cloud-based business management solution, Dynamics 365 Business Central is a solution designed for businesses who have outgrown their entry-level accounting software or those looking to move away from legacy systems. It aims to be simple to implement, making the migration less of a headache for IT.
There’s a misconception that cloud products are more expensive than on-premise solutions, but this isn’t the case at all. The per-user-per-month subscriptions, offered by Microsoft for Dynamics 365 and a number of its solutions, drive down costs and offer flexibility for growing businesses. Dynamics NAV brings “the full capabilities of Dynamics NAV” to the cloud, and through its subscription costing significantly reduces the investment needed for a market-leading solution. Further, a Microsoft study with business leaders found that using the cloud offered increased employee productivity and significant cost savings.
Chances are your business has already moved to the cloud in some capacity, but it’s likely you’re not getting the most out of your investment. It’s also very likely that you’re facing resistance from your wider organisation when it comes to implementing more cloud services. Attitudes towards IT departments need to change in order for cloud services, and wider digital transformation, to be taken seriously. Ultimately, these attitudes probably won’t change unless there is hard evidence of its benefits.