The growth in cloud computing means the UK’s medium-sized businesses have easier access to a wider range of IT services than ever. The benefits of cloud computing centre around the ability to access the latest technologies quickly, flexibly, cost effectively and by converting some IT costs into an operational rather than a capital expenditure. At a time when access to capital has become difficult and expensive, and many companies in the UK seem to be holding onto what they have, this can be very beneficial. Cash rich organisations still seem happy to splurge money on hardware and software and keep their IT on-premise, but many forward-thinking businesses are now beginning to turn their back on this out-dated and restrictive way of working.
There are some important things to consider when taking on cloud services. The IT services industry is full of broken promises. Customer expectations are high and some providers fail to deliver. Ultimately, medium-sized companies need a cloud services partner they can trust to provide the experience needed by employees and customers. Get this wrong and they stops working effectively.
Good customer experience is nothing new and as consumers we are spoilt by the way some brands bend over backwards to look after us. In fact it is this trend that is driving the consumerisation of IT. The customer experience we get from companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, iPlayer and so on, is so good we no longer want to tolerate poor service in the workplace – where we spend most of our lives. It is not by accident that, according to many people, the best business phone ever was one developed for a consumer audience. It has now been adopted as the employees’ standard issue mobile device.
Frightening business users
The worst thing a cloud provider can do is to distract itself from getting the basics right and delivering them excellently. Customer experience often begins to suffer when the service provider they are working with takes its eye off the ball by confusing good service with trying to do too much. Any intended added value is lost as attention and resources are diverted into other activities and the terms of the service level agreement are compromised. Trying too hard and focusing on the wrong things, even though the intent comes from a good place, leads to a poor customer experience.
This is often how partnerships break down in the services industry. In fact cloud service providers can learn from another great consumer message -doing ‘what it says on the tin’ and doing it well.
Cloud is not a panacea and therefore not necessarily the answer to every business challenge. It is simply an alternative method of delivering technology services to customers. Working with a provider that takes the time to understand a business and its challenges is more important than working with one that focuses on technology.
Using the cloud to enable business processes that are broken or in need of an update is bad practice and won’t deliver potential. The groundwork still has to be done before transformation can be effective. Although many cloud providers can help with this it means there has to be a professional services element to the relationship. There is always a balancing act between people, process and technology and making sure all three are aligned to business objectives. No one can afford to get this mix wrong when large capital investments are made. Fortunately cloud lets companies try new things without making large commitments, so they test and validate new ideas first. This is why cloud is delivering so much of today’s innovation.
Growing UK Plc
The economy desperately needs the UK’s mid-market companies to fuel a new growth cycle and see us out of the financial conundrum we find ourselves in today. Job and wealth creation has to be our mantra but it is very hard to grow without investment. This means all future investments have to be the right ones and made in such a way as to maximise returns for immediate benefit. IT departments are less and less likely to be the source of innovation to lead the charge. The ability to tap into new sources of talent, capability and capacity is one reason why cloud services are a compelling alternative to on-premise IT. Companies need to make sure they partner with a provider who really understands what it means to deliver a high grade customer experience because then they are in good hands.