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From cloud to the democratisation of technology

Jordan Seke, CRM specialist and ICT consultant, Wits University.

Jordan Seke, CRM specialist and ICT consultant, Wits University.

The ITWeb Cloud Summit is in its second year in the current format, and brings you more than ever before in experts, content, case studies and relevant local insight.

The 2018 event will continue to deliver on its mandate – to dissect the A - Z of cloud for a more agile, cost-efficient and secure business environment.

ITWeb events spoke to Jordan Seke, CRM specialist and ICT consultant, Wits University, about his take on the main features of cloud computing that represent a significant break with the past in terms of IT delivery in the wake of "the democratisation of technology".

ITWeb: You are presenting on moving from cloud computing to the democratisation of technology – what does it mean to democratise technology? In addition, why would an organisations move from cloud to ‘democratisation of technology'?

Seke: The business landscape has been taken by storm by many factors including the BYOD (bring your own device) drive. The new fashion "democratisation of technology" refers to the process by which access to technology continues to become easier and is available to many more people. This means that more people are able to consume tools and information previously reserved for the select few only. This shift, the role technology plays in business today, is evidenced by the increased communication between the IT department of an organisation and the increasingly tech-savvy employee population that they service. The employees are making demands for tools, both hardware and software, instead of those dictated by (often outdated) company policies.

This new fashion in other terms is a maturity phase in the cloud-computing journey. The journey into the cloud, like in any other technology, is characterised by a set of phases from the early adopters to the laggards.

Democratising technology means giving access to a large number of end users without thought being given to the concurrent users' issues, threats and other related queries to the administration of services and level of access given away. It also means, giving freedom of choice to users when it come to their devices. However, it does not mean that activities will no longer be monitored.

My response to the question of why an organisation would move from cloud to the democratisation of technology – competition in the business market is taking place across all the digital channels. These channels are the proof of maturity of an organisation, one that is willing to stand in the gap between old and new technological breakthroughs to gain the trust of new customers and retain the existing ones.

Advancing on this journey is non-negotiable for any organisation wanting to sustain and compete in this macro-economic environment. Business is facing a very big paradigm shift of technology, which in essence is the business enabler of today. Business cannot sustain without technology.

ITWeb: What challenges did you experience during this journey? How did you overcome them?

Seke: The challenges experienced during this journey are two-fold, one being on a personal and professional level and the other at business level.

On the personal and professional level, my journey into the cloud was faced with fear and the lack of knowledge and understanding. I overcome them with a consistency of purpose that people be aware that what I believe is going to happen is coming in the not-too-distant future. So I just kept on talking to these concerns and challenges.

On the business side of things, the main challenge, among many others, is security threats. Some businesses were discouraged from the outset as a result of these proposed threats and didn't seek alternatives. Other businesses, which we call "laggards", would not entertain any discussion around the cloud because of several other reasons that are still viable today i.e. integration of solutions.

Business created platforms or forums internally and externally to engage into the dialogue for better understanding. These forums enabled several businesses to weigh benefits versus threats, to formulate new strategies and take a genuine decision to embark into cloud. We used cloud benefits of scalability to change the decision-makers' perception; and this argument helped turn things around.

We also used predictions from big firms like Forrester and others to make our point, to justify the future of business in the 21st century. We used quotes like "by 2020, anything other than a cloud-only strategy for new IT initiatives will require justification".

ITWeb: Have you experience any ‘major' benefits associated with moving to the cloud?

Seke: The answer is a resounding yes.

Businesses have managed to translate the patterns of our behaviour over time while moving into the cloud. When one is updating his Facebook status freely using the enterprise resource, he is using cloud computing. When checking the bank balance on the phone while connected to the organisation's WiFi, he is yet again using the cloud. Whether we are firing off e-mails on the move or using a bunch of apps to help us manage our workload, we are in the cloud.

The major benefits associated with a move to the cloud are the flexibility, the resulting cultural change and the freedom of automatic software updates and users have the power to choose their privacy status.

ITWeb: If you had to provide a checklist of what you did to make this transformation happen – what would the five key checkboxes be?

Seke: This is a tricky one because of the nature of each business in the cloud, so I would be cautious to present a best practice checklist in any field across the business landscape today. However, a random check list may be as follows: build a strong business case for why you think your organisation should consider moving into the cloud, cloud is not one-size-fits-all solution; change is good but not necessarily easy to implement, so one needs to advocate why change is required, you need to engage critically with all the stakeholders throughout the process; create a change management team; review the company policies about information and communication technologies resources usage and the legal framework; visit successful and failed implementations from different service providers to make an informed judgement before embarking on this journey.

One should always remember that there is never a right time to do the wrong thing, and there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. Cloud is maturing in our business landscape today and we have to make the right move now, not tomorrow.

ITWeb: Why are you presenting at the Cloud Summit in February, and what outcomes would you like attendees to leave the event with?

Seke: I am a critically engaged advocate when it comes to technology as a whole and I would like to share my view using concrete evidence with large numbers of people. I would like the audience to leave with a new set of lenses from which they can scan their current business environment as well as the future work environment, all of which will be enabled by technology. I want to transform attendees into critically engaged employees who will then also want to debate and dialogue around the journey to the cloud and the democratisation of technology. I would also like them to leave with a new digital engagement and an understanding of why the democratisation of technology as a single attribute does not constitute an era or a new age.


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