But while that’s fine for start-ups, for practically every other established large organisation, there are years of old-school IT roll-outs (some of which went well, others not-so-well), featuring tired-looking software, or quick-fix alterations that are frankly sucking up time to maintain and get data from, rather than unleashing insight and strategic value. It’s prompting people from the CIO, FD and CEO communities to consider their entire digital transformation strategy. But herein lies a problem – when it comes to ‘the cloud’, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what it actually is, let alone what it can do.
For a start, while useful, the cloud has never been something organisations have ever really demanded themselves. It’s always been a sales-led concept – sold to organisations by providers as the next big thing. It’s often why leaders can feel they’ve got no choice but to go for it. After all, it all feels so easy – automatic upgrades, ongoing support, fewer in-house resources needed, data safely off-site where it’s much more secure. What’s not to like? It’s tempting stuff.
However, even though the cloud has obvious plus-points, for example, instead of being locked into providers for many years, the cloud ‘pay as you use’ model makes severing ties with them easy – it can present worries of a very different kind. Leaders are rightly fearful, for example, of being sucked into deploying very standardised technology templates that don’t quite address their particular business need, and which still require modifying. As one commentator I know recently observed, ‘competitive advantage does not derive from standard systems alone.’ The systems landscape comprises 80% standardisation-able and 10% competitive advantage with 10% floating about in the middle (maybe some configuration from standard).