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Industry Insight

Flexibility in the cloud

Cloud solutions provide multiple applications and different user profiles to access various levels of functionality.

When it comes to cloud computing, the majority of solution providers focus on the flexibility it offers for robust business solutions. They also focus on how the agility of the cloud assists a business to meet its strategic objectives. But, what does this mean for the decision-maker?

Prior to examining the importance of flexibility, one must first examine the agility of existing company structures and processes. Here are a few questions to help guide this assessment:

* How quickly is my company able to make changes to adapt to the market?
* Does my company need to change on a tactical or strategic level?
* How many people are involved in the decision-making process regarding operational change?

By understanding whether the business is ready for the agility of the cloud, it could assist in the process to understand whether the company is prepared to make the transition. Once it is ready to make the move, selecting a cloud partner becomes integral to the success or failure of a project.

Important choices

This selection process is guided by examining the requirements of the operational team of the business to understand the needs of the COO and what level of decision-making needs to remain inside the company.

Tactical and operational agility might mean the difference between winning or losing the next deal, or servicing a client in a way that makes them either stay with the company, or choose to go with more adaptable competitors.

In the contact centre environment, one would need to understand how much control is required to operate and deal with all the customer queries and how to effectively assign the right staff member to deal with the client.

Understanding the underlying business process and building systems that assign the right person to the job to give the best possible service could mean success or failure. Factor in how big data will empower the decision-maker to understand customer churn and where the bottlenecks inside the company occur, then it could become a formidable opponent to win new customers and retain existing ones.

Furthermore, the cloud vendor should provide the business with the ability to outsource all the mundane IT tasks to a provider that has the necessary skills to deliver and maintain a solution that is best of breed. Its best practice methods will also ensure the business does not have to spend hours trying to resolve issues that could take a highly skilled team a few minutes to address.

CIOs are no longer at odds with the rest of the board.

Integrating legacy systems into the cloud is something most cloud providers would like to avoid. In fact, the more standard the solution, the easier and more flexible the offering will become. When one considers integration points, and what the business goals are when the integration is completed, it is often easy to see why business would require this to enable higher levels of productivity. The cloud provider should then be able to provide solutions, and offer alternatives, on Web-based systems, which can, in turn, wrap around business requirements.

Adapt or die

The need for business to innovate and change becomes greater in the digital age. When considering the adoption of applications as a service, instead of the massive IT infrastructure of the past, the cloud will become even more mainstream.

In terms of the flexibility provided by the cloud, the decision-makers in the business require more functionality and user-friendly business applications. As IT departments come under increasing pressure to deliver these bespoke solutions to tech-savvy business users, solutions often become even more user-friendly.

CIOs are no longer at odds with the rest of the board. They see the business requirements and understand that a business-focused IT team is a much better option. This team can then focus on innovation, while the other tasks and more vanilla solutions can be managed by vendors. After all, why would the internal team want to manage IT landscapes that do not provide any competitive advantage?

When looking at flexibility for business applications, one would need to consider the implication this has on the rest of the business. Cloud solutions allow the company to have multiple applications and different user profiles to access these levels of functionality. In the past, the company would have had to buy all the licences upfront, and then hope the rest of the company started using the software.

Most cloud companies offer a "try before you buy" model, which facilitates testing and making sure business adoption is acceptable. It also provides a good indication of whether the application is operationally mature enough to deal with the needs of the company.

Consider the cost of stagnation in any area of the business. Will the company be relevant in the world of tomorrow, where technology will either disrupt its industry or interrupt the flow of business to tried and tested operations?

The cloud will deliver on the promise of flexibility only when the right partner is chosen.


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