Have faith in the cloud

 

Irrational fears about cloud computing obscure the great opportunities this maturing technology offers

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For some, the cloud is a gloomy place. Most discussions about remote sharing technologies focus on concerns about cybersecurity and data integrity, as if these were unique to cloud computing, or insurmountable.

Neither is true. Remote access technologies can be as secure as, or more so, than other ways of storing data, though it is true that moving to the cloud presents challenges. Some are as prosaic as the hurdles that bedevil other business projects: a lack of staff buy-in, team inertia, wariness about new ways of working. Trying to get people to work collaboratively from the cloud can be tricky at first. Some staffers insist on printing out documents and working on them privately, even though, in a cloud-based sharing environment, this renders the documents immediately obsolete, and the technology almost redundant.

Some managers complain that installing and integrating a cloud platform against passive resistance can be such an energy-sapping project it diverts focus from core activities. Other leaders lament that buyers often mess up their procurement and purchase expensive cloud solutions that are in search of a problem, while other more critical challenges remain unresolved. Advocates of the cloud don’t always have an easy task.

There are no half measures with the cloud. You have to throw yourself right in there. But if collaborative working would help your business – and it helps many – then you have to look towards cloud providers. Remember that cloud solutions won’t work unless you have the managers and technicians who are determined to revolutionize the business and bring everyone on board – right up to the chief executive if necessary, no matter how stubborn in her ways.

Years ago, a manager friend in publishing told me that he was so exasperated at the versioning chaos caused by people endlessly emailing new magazine flatplans every time an ad or article moved that he searched the web for a simple cloud solution. He found one, and sold its virtues to his team, who soon saw the benefits for themselves. He is still a paying subscriber of the software six years, three magazines and two employers later. “The cloud saved my teams about 300 hours in that time, and endless stress and mind-fog,” he says.

Choose the right cloud solution, integrate it properly and your company works better. Teams are clearer about the status of projects; clients and suppliers can see snapshots at a single click; and the dreaded versioning demon is kept at bay. The cloud has the power to revolutionize the way we work. But its roll-out has to be executed surefootedly. So what are the key management
techniques required to make its adoption a success?

Personal relationships are key. You need to be able to explain why you are introducing a new system and the benefits it will deliver personally to your members of staff. Extol the time savings and the flexible-working opportunities cloud working can offer. If cloud computing unshackles your team from their desks and offices, tell them so.

Bringing cloud computing to your workplace is just an example of big-project change-management, so seek enthusiasts with a good track record at delivering change to spearhead your cloud roll-out.

Finally, keep reminding yourself and your key lieutenants of the suboptimal current situation (“oh no, there’s a newer version I sent the other day, didn’t you get it?” “What’s going on with that project? I can’t decipher this endless email thread!”) and then show how your cloud solution will cure it.

Choose wisely, prepare for change, but don’t fight shy of the opportunities the cloud can bring. The sky is the limit.

 

Andrew Millard is senior director of international marketing at Citrix

 

 

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