Cloud Looming: What You Need to Do Now
As enterprises shift UC to the cloud, they must address vital organizational issues that accompany that move.
Depending on the specific technology, between 74% and 85% of organizations are eyeing cloud-based services for unified communications and collaboration (UCC), according to Nemertes' recent IT Outlook research. The ensuing organizational changes are both significant and vital to success.
The figures include those who are using, evaluating, or planning to use cloud-based services, driven largely by the compelling offerings available from vendors such as Avaya, Cisco, Interactive Intelligence, Microsoft, Mitel, and ShoreTel (along with all their partners), as well as a bevy of communications providers, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and XO Communications.
Clearly, not all of the organizations ultimately will move to the cloud. By the end of this year, we project 82% will be using cloud Web conferencing, while 35% to 45% will be using IP telephony, instant messaging, email/calendar, and video in the cloud. Overall in the coming year, 51% of companies plan to increase their cloud spending.
Whether the driver to the cloud is agility, extension of the IT staff, or (in some cases) cost reduction, IT leaders must focus on the vital organizational issues that accompany a move to the cloud. These include:
- Changing Composition of IT – One of the most swift and significant changes we're seeing is new skillsets in IT -- both a driver toward cloud and an effect of going to the cloud.
More than half of companies are experiencing challenges finding the right people in IT. In the past, technology-related degrees and experiences were top on the list of required qualifications. Now, that has expanded to more multi-faceted individuals who not only understand technology, but also possess business prowess, can interpret contracts and regulations, can analyze SLAs, and have industry-specific expertise. IT leaders also want people who can communicate, negotiate, and solve problems. All these skills help IT better respond to business demands and more effectively oversee partner relationships.
Indeed, with fewer technology experts available to manage the day-to-day break-fix of a growing portfolio of services, organizations are turning to cloud partners. And as they forge new partnerships, they need people who can manage those partnerships.
Nemertes is gathering new cloud research data, which I will present at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, March 7. The session, "Building a Business Case for a Changing UC Architecture," includes our annual UC TCO data, in addition to specifics on the changing composition of IT organizations as they move from on-premises deployments to hybrid and cloud services.
Typically, we do not see a reduction in IT staff overall. Rather, companies change the number of people handling various functions. For example, fewer people manage break-fix and maintenance when they move to the cloud, and more oversee partner management and user training and marketing. The research will show specifically how those numbers change.
- Partnership Management – One of the biggest misperceptions among those moving to the cloud is an "out-of-site, out-of-mind" mentality. On the contrary, they must devote qualified resources to the relationship to establish a true partnership. According to our research, the most successful partnerships have between 1.2 and 2.6 IT staff members devoted to management of each relationship (obviously, the numbers vary based on the size of the staff and the complexity of the relationship). About 60% of companies say they have enough people managing their partners (27.8% say they need more, while 8.3% say they need fewer, and the rest are unsure), but 92.8% said they don't have the right people. They need people with the skillsets and experience cited above. The key message: Partnership management should be a dedicated job responsibility, filled by someone with the appropriate experience and skills.
- Getting the Word Out – The new-and-improved IT staff also must employ people who focus on marketing IT to employees and training them on how the technologies can make them more efficient. Doing so is particularly important as IT staffs move technologies to the cloud, since the spending shifts from capital projects to operational costs that receive annual scrutiny at budget time. If few employees use the technology, the IT staff stands to lose the operational budget for the cloud service, potentially putting jobs at risk. The most effective ways to get the word out to people are through newsletters (electronic or paper), digital billboards, and lunch-and-learns, according to our research.
Cloud UC services are top of mind for most IT leaders. Success depends on reorganizing the IT staff with people who have the right combination of skillsets; successful management of partner relationships; and effective strategies to improve user awareness of the technologies -- and the appropriate training on how to use them.
Join me at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, for this session and others. Register by this Friday, Feb. 12, using the code NJPOST and save an additional $200 off the early bird rate. Note, this discount code, which is valid for Entire Event and Tue-Thu Conference passes, represents a total savings of $700 off the onsite price. As an added bonus, you can get even bigger savings when you register three or more attendees from your company.