Recently analysts Esteban Kolsky of thinkJar and Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research Group conducted research on cloud strategy to get at the heart of enterprise cloud application adoption as well as to identify some of the challenges companies face with their deployment.

[easy-tweet tweet=”#Cloud adoption may be here, but #CloudStrategy is in disarray” user=”comparethecloud”]

Overall the research shows that while cloud adoption is here, cloud strategy is in disarray. So are we at risk of global cloud disillusionment if businesses do not develop a cloud strategy which works across the business, and one which all those who introduce and implement cloud solutions can operate within?

Results shows there are several aspects which contribute to the lack of coherent cloud strategy adopted in business.

The governance problem

No one department is in full control meaning there is no uniform governance of cloud strategy. 71.3% of cloud systems decisions are made with either IT supporting departments making systems decisions or IT collaborating with departments making joint decisions. 13% of cloud decisions are made with IT not participating in the decisions, and departments / LoBs making decisions on their own and nearly 16% are made as entirely an IT decision.

IT NEEDS TO BE PART OF ANY CLOUD STRATEGY IN ORDER TO ENSURE COMPLEXITY IS REDUCED

While departments may be closer to business requirements for success, IT needs to be part of any cloud strategy in order to ensure complexity is reduced and to avoid the pitfalls that can come with a disjointed strategy. Cloud strategy is not designed with a ‘platform first’ approach, which can result in numbers of apps on many different platforms making it unwieldy to manage. This counteracts some key benefits to creating simpler business solutions, which save both time and money.

Multiple platforms in use

39.8% of companies still use more than four platforms, causing problems in delivering real-time business insight and one true customer record. If decisions are ‘apps first’ based, there is no consideration taken for how data in apps can work collectively with each other to give true business insight, enabling companies to act faster and serve customers more effectively. This also causes businesses to duplicate work systems, which can be eradicated through reducing the number or using just one platform. Only 14.8% of companies surveyed were using just one platform, showing room for improvement is needed in reducing complexity to implement and manage cloud applications.

[easy-tweet tweet=”There is room for improvement in reducing complexity to implement and manage #cloud #apps”]

Technical problems still an issue

Technical problems still ranked highly when it comes to cloud applications and these gathered the highest number of votes. This could stem from the complexity in managing cloud apps on many platforms but also shows that IT needs to increase its capability, awareness and education in managing cloud applications. This will see IT gaining confidence within its organisation and have others trust their ability to provide a sound cloud strategy. It will enable them to reduce the potential number of problems that adopting cloud applications engender for organisations, and enable IT departments to remain lean.

Problems that can be resolved with right cloud strategy

The seven most popular issues facing cloud app customers were found to be those which cloud applications are heralded to resolve:

  1. capped or reduced IT budgets

  2. slow performance

  3. application accessibility

  4. synchronisation problems

  5. operating multiple databases

  6. number of applications and enabling technologies in use

  7. ongoing data quality concerns

Companies need to acknowledge that simply bringing in a new cloud application is not the only requirement to solving a business problem. If the right strategy and infrastructure is missing, the investment made to introduce a cloud application will be lost and could worsen an existing issue or introduce new problems to a business.

Business benefits

One aspect that is coming out strongly in businesses surveyed is that the introduction of cloud applications is enabling some business benefits. The speed of preparing management information has increased in 46.7% of companies, 54.7% have seen it improve the quality of management information and 49.3% report increased customer service.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The speed of preparing #management information has increased in 46.7% of companies thanks to #Cloud”]

Looking forwards

Imagine what can be achieved if complexity is further reduced with the right cloud strategy and an optimal decision making infrastructure in place for companies to drive forwards?

The research shows it is simply not enough to adopt cloud applications, but cloud decisions need to be taken in the right way with the right underlying strategy in order to reap the full benefits. Businesses can then use insights and analytics to really see efficiency gains, plus the ability to act faster and deliver excellent customer service through achieving a full 360 customer view.

The cloud industry may be in full swing as far as adoption is concerned but we can look forward to seeing its next chapter as firm strategies are introduced to allow cloud to realise its full potential. If business ignores the strategy issue, the whole industry could risk disillusionment as it fails to live up to its promises.

IT IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH TO ADOPT CLOUD APPLICATIONS, BUT CLOUD DECISIONS NEED TO BE TAKEN IN THE RIGHT WAY WITH THE RIGHT UNDERLYING STRATEGY IN ORDER TO REAP THE FULL BENEFITS

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Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform, FinancialForce.com
Kevin Roberts is the GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com and is a founding member of the company. He has over 25 years of back office systems integration experience across a variety of technical environments and is a key figure in the Salesforce and FinancialForce.com ecosystems. Kevin has a strong technical, integration, database administration and systems architecture background gained through experience of implementing enterprise financial, accounting and ERP applications in roles at Cap Gemini, Lynx Financial Systems, CODA and UNIT4 in both the UK and the US.