Technology has been, and remains, the catalyst for business change. The evolution and adoption of cloud-based apps and services has played a huge role in accelerating the move to a more flexible and agile working environment.
Enabling the evolution
The traditional boundaries of the organisation have disappeared. It’s not just the productivity applications, like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and others, that are being accessed everywhere. Key systems of record, like ERP and CRM systems, have also moved into the cloud – as are line of business specific finance and HR applications. All of which, of course, can be securely accessed (provided the right controls are in place) from internet connected devices.
Access to applications alone is not enough. People need to be connected to people too. While we’ve heard a lot about Zoom, Teams and other collaboration tools this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to true unified communications and collaboration (UCC).
Many UCC solutions feature advanced telephony integration to augment or replace phone systems, and support huddle and in-room conferencing applications. But it’s the ‘collaboration’ part of the jigsaw that can deliver the most value – enabling people to create project teams, share and (remotely) work together on documents and more. All of which is critical if you have disparate offices, people working remotely and from client sites.
And, of course, the humble telephone is a long way from being redundant. Few organisations operate without a switchboard. While this may be an obvious point, it’s easy to overlook the importance of an effective telephony systems
when it comes to supporting a remote workforce. Certainly, companieswould have struggled considerably during lockdown without the ability to ‘mobilise’ its telephony capability.
Moving to an OPEX world
Whether it’s a cloud-based CRM, UCC app or telephony solution, the ability to buy and consume Everything as a Service (XaaS) – software, platforms, infrastructure, etc. – has had a revolutionary ‘enabling’ impact across the business. If people can run a global bank from their kitchens then IT is doing something right. At the operational level too, a cloud-first approach offers fundamental advantages. CapEx spending is reduced down and pay-per-use licencing offers considerable time saving opportunities in terms of reducing the need for systems monitoring, O/S updates and break/fix maintenance.
All these should be managed (seamlessly and invisibly) on an OpEx model. There is considerably less on-premise kit to go wrong, and this offers opportunities for IT personnel to go beyond keeping the lights on to focus attention and skills on higher value activities that add value to the business. Although you do need to monitor the cloud services to avoid ‘keeping the lights on’ when there’s no need.
Managing the transition
This cloud-first transformation doesn’t always come without cost – as many have found. And these can be considerable.
IT leaders face a raft of well-established internal pressures. Senior execs and line of business heads are looking to IT to leverage new technologies and drive wider divisional or organisation-wide transformation. Users want the same kind of intuitive experiences at work they get on their home devices, and while some will enthusiastically embrace new technologies and approaches, others are more wary of change and need considerable training and support. Then there are the ever-present issues of being expected to keep the lights on while at the same time driving new innovations across the business. The latter being particularly challenging for smaller IT departments who often lack the resources or the expertise to effectively test, evaluate and understand how the latest cloud offerings will (or won’t) add value to the business.
This creates a tension in the speed at which technology can be provided to meet the rising expectations touched on above. On a more technical level, in a world where employees can ‘buy’ a cloud service with a corporate credit card, IT leaders can begin to lose control. Shadow-IT, cloud-sprawl and licence under-utilisation proliferate across many businesses – creating a raft of hidden costs.
How can we help?
With IT heads increasingly looking at how to address the fast evolving needs of their organisations, the need for a trusted partner to help define and deliver the direction you set is more important than ever. Read our eBook here, and find out how we’ve helped multiple organisations with their hybrid working set up.
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