Embrace the Cloud: Your Staff Are!


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ViaMoi / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

A recent Gartner survey found 40% of businesses in Australia are using cloud services. Now that stat might seem overly high to some – many other recent studies have cited figures more like 15% or 20% – but I put it to you that the figure of 40% is more accurate than you think. Here’s why:

When we think Cloud Services we think of services like Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com or Dynamics CRM Online. I’ve no doubt across the Australian businesses landscape, especially in SMB,  there’s no way 4 from 10 are using these services in the main stream.

However, what we often forget – but this particular survey took in to account – are the services NOT being purposely provisioned by the business’s management but being self-provisioned by individual staff themselves:  Services which may be free; services which staff might use in ‘consumer’ life; services which certainly have no real central control or management.  These are the “rogue” cloud services being used in your business.  Right now.

In August, CSO.com.au magazine went as far as describing DropBox as the “de facto” for online file sharing. I’ve seen with my own eyes many small businesses using DropBox or a variant of it – often with no controls and perhaps even no acknowledgement from the business owner or manager. Skype and other consumer driven messaging products are often staples across SMB user desktops. Sugar CRM and Zoho have free or very low cost cloud services available for SMBs to manage customers, sales pipelines or even invoicing. 37Signals offer cloud based project management and collaboration solutions gaining much popularity especially in SMBs in the creative industry.

I recently read an article by an analyst at Gartner which stated “The real transformative impact of cloud does not come from just sourcing traditional applications at an allegedly lower cost, but from developing applications that couldn’t even be conceived without cloud (however most of these will require public cloud scale).”

And that’s effectively what’s driving employees in businesses to ‘go rogue’ – they’re seeking functionality from cloud based services on demand as required because it’s not provided by their company’s current technology investments. In other words, they’re buying in to the Cloud Services model – often well before the management of that business has even given it a thought.

But few of those aforementioned staff self-provisioned services offer the controls and security required by a company. And even fewer integrate in any meaningful way with existing on-premises software investments. That presents an opportunity to forward-thinking businesses to embrace the cloud: to lower risk exposure from uncontrolled use of rogue cloud services and improve return on investment and business impact by letting the management deliver controlled business-class industry leading cloud solutions to their staff. That is, developing solutions for staff – be they on top of reputable public cloud commercial offerings or in-house private cloud solutions – which would otherwise be inconceivable due to scale, cost or time to deploy if it were not for the cloud.

Who’s embracing the cloud in your business?  Your management or your staff?

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