Companies are shifting resources to the cloud for a variety of reasons: efficiency, cost, analytics, customer service, etc. While these are worthy goals, there’s a more fundamental objective that companies leveraging the cloud should strive for: unlocking the collective brainpower of your workforce and customer base.
While the term “social” means different things to different people, at the heart of the concept lies an understanding that people are the organization’s most valuable asset. In a truly “social” business, technology implementations -- be they cloud, mobile or social media -- all support the ability of your workforce to collaborate, innovate and remain agile. To offer a techy twist on James Carville’s famous election season adage, when it comes to maximizing cloud investment, it’s the people, stupid, that ultimately determine the value of your implementation.
How smart, or stupid, then, are today’s cloud-dwelling companies? If research our firm recently conducted on how companies are using Salesforce is an indicator, opinions regarding the concept of social fall into four camps: 22% don’t believe it’s worth their time; 31% “aren’t there yet” but view it as an important shift; 10% believe it’s important but don’t know how to proceed; and 24% are currently working toward it. In light of these attitudes, it wasn’t that surprising to find that 30 percent of companies using Salesforce are in “reactive” mode with huge backlogs, adoption challenges, and no new feature pipeline. At the other end of the spectrum, 20 percent are in a mode aptly described as “agile”, and are essentially maximizing their cloud investment. What’s the secret sauce these companies are using to get the most from the cloud? To answer that, you have to first establish the true scope of the investment.
The real investment scope -- bigger than you might think
The true cost of cloud is greater than many realize. While the cloud removes the burden of paying up to 10 times the amount for self-hosted applications, it is a mistake to think that there are no costs beyond the purchase of licenses and consulting services. Additional factors influence the true cost of cloud investment, including ongoing innovation, governance and adoption.
These factors give rise to challenges such as keeping cloud solutions aligned with changing business needs, understanding how to budget and staff resources necessary to innovate the solutions, and determining how to best serve diverse constituents. The key to overcoming these challenges involves wrapping your entire thought process around the user experience.
Six “easy” tips to maximize your cloud investment
Let me say upfront that these tips might require you to change the way things have been done before in your organization. But you’ll find life to be much easier if you follow these tips than if your cloud infrastructure spirals out of control, becoming unmanageable and pretty much useless to your organization:
All of these tips, in one way or another, center on people rather than platforms. Cloud computing has done much more than shift the kind of technology we use -- it has fundamentally altered the role of technology in companies. Maximizing your investment in cloud technologies, therefore, despite all their complexities, really rests on one thing -- making the technology work for people, and not vice versa. As Tron would say, fight for the users.