Over the past decade, IT departments have been continually asked to do more with less while at the same time are tasked with delivering continued innovation. As the economy recovers, corporate IT and business unit leaders are fighting for a finite amount of resources. In most cases, the business units win and the IT team must implement new solutions with the same, or in some instances, even less budget than they had before.
Agile business units are unlocking these resources to fund customer-centric projects throughout the company, with a focus on enhancing the customer experience and reaching the increasingly digital customer. Unfortunately, the IT machine that enables these projects within the company goes untended. For instance, many business units want to ‘go to the cloud’ so that they can take advantage of the flexibility it offers. In fact, a recent Wired article points to cloud as a way for companies to develop a customer service platform that provides the flexibility needed to turn on a dime in order to grow with customer demands and evolving channels like mobile and social media. The article says that “these channels [mobile, social, etc.] are adapted on an ongoing basis at a rate that most on-premise solutions can’t keep up with from both a timing and cost perspective. The cloud can offer the needed advantages of flexibility and speed, and at a price organizations of nearly any size can manage.”
But, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. There are several challenges that are stalling their move to the cloud, including:
- Outdated systems that are costly and time-consuming to transition: many IT departments are still working on older, back-end systems which consequently are holding back deployments of new cloud applications.
- Limited IT resources: Business units are jostling to get to the front of the line with IT teams but with fewer resources and a long list of to-dos, this can slow down the process. Executive endorsement and approvals can also add to the time it takes to get a project to the front of the queue.
- Security and compliance issues: Internal review processes, especially for business units moving to the cloud for the first time, are slowing down deployments.
Eventually these challenges may work themselves out, especially as companies begin to re-examine their priorities and adjust business processes to better accommodate the demands of digital consumers and employees. There are three things companies should keep in mind today to address these:
- Share the love. Without a good foundation, a large structure will crumble. The same applies to corporations and their IT departments – without a strong IT foundation to support digital functions, companies may find themselves rushing to fill in unforeseen gaps and errors in consumer applications, in addition to a growing lack of flexibility and responsiveness to new cloud engines. For every non-IT project, companies need to set aside funds for internal IT departments to make sure they have the resources and systems required to both manage and integrate a new program.
- Think of your IT system in layers. Corporations do not need to move their entire systems into a cloud environment. Rather, businesses should explore creating a service-oriented access layer for cloud services on the front of older systems and applications. This eliminates the need to wholesale move systems to the cloud.
- Remember that cloud isn’t an all-or-nothing solution. With cloud computing, know that data will not exist just in one place, but linked across clouds and on premises applications, creating a hybrid world involving both types of systems. This enables companies to be more nimble and move data and applications between cloud and on premises systems to meet their needs. Think data federation, encryption and rules in multiple places.
As a cloud-based SAAS supplier of Customer Interaction Management for the Fortune 1000, Varolii sees huge benefits being derived for B2C companies moving their customer engagement systems to the cloud. For our customers, cloud computing has reduced customer service costs, increased customer engagement rates results by up to 20%, and relieved the burden on tightly staffed call centers. In the long-term, the cloud will replace many of the legacy systems and infrastructure that companies have today. Looking to the future, the internal IT team will likely become a department focused on data governance and security, rather than managing where data lives and how it is processed.