Cloud is a technology evolution that businesses are aware of, in the context of the opportunities for businesses to transform and create value throughout their value chain.
However, with this opportunity a new challenge has been presented itself: Businesses now have a broad choice of options for cloud, but which option, or combination, is the right one them?
Who is going to help guide businesses through the practicality of cloud services and the implications on the business if they chose a particular cloud option?
There is the opportunity for a new type of cloud consulting, where the cloud specialist engages with the customer to help create a cloud strategy and select the cloud service that meets the business needs and helps the business understand risk management and other implications.
The customer will then require a cloud specialist for implementation of the cloud system, as implementation will often require changes to company workflow and chances are there will be a requirement for BA services for the customer to get the value from the cloud.
For example, last year Gene Marks, a Forbes contributor made this remark in his article titled '11 terrible CRM systems for your company': “CRMs are terrible when they are not implemented the right way.”
There is a huge choice of cloud-based services available and a customer will need to assess and decide on many parameters.
Does the customer choose a shared SaaS cloud vendor or a privately hosted vendor? Is data sovereignty important? Does the vendor support API integrations with other vendors, and what information is exchanged in the API? How reliable is the API?
What level of customisation do you get? How safe is the data? How is it backed up? How is it restored and are there any fine print issues? How easy is the data to export and how big is the data (as it may take a long time to export)?
Does the cloud vendor have client side integration software and how reliable is it? How transparent is the cloud provider?
Do they communicate how they manage risk of your data on your behalf? How do you manage your risk – can you insure your data on someone else’s system?
These examples are just a small section of the criteria that must be considered when choosing a cloud vendor and customers will need expert guidance just to narrow down the initial selection.
Cloud solutions are the way forward, because they solve so many immediate business problems as well as financial headaches and risk management issues for businesses.
However, customers need clear guidance to identify the right strategy and cloud solution set for their business. A poor cloud strategy will result in far higher costs and disruption, whilst an aligned strategy will ultimately reduce business costs and risks.
By Jeff Herbert, director, AO NZ