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Refurbish and Refinish Your Cloud Strategy


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Cloud communications and collaboration usage has skyrocketed since companies had to get people out of the office to work remotely — and fast. But many companies took advantage of free and reduced cost COVID-19 offerings for their accelerated push into the cloud. So, what are they to do now that those offerings are starting to end?
Melissa Swartz, of Swartz Consulting, explored this question during her Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo session, “Reconsidering Your Cloud Strategy In the Wake of Pandemic,” (available on demand for registered attendees; register here if you haven’t already). She shared three main steps to take in evaluating whether a rapid response solution is the best choice moving forward.
Document What You Have and What You’ve Learned – Communications/collaboration decision makers need to ask themselves the following questions: What did you learn when you had to react so quickly to new circumstances? What worked? What was challenging? Were there any common things or questions that kept coming up over and over? Did you have to create any new processes as a result of the changes? Did you have to obtain any new tools? Do you need to create any FAQ as a result of all the new stuff? “Take some time and think through what has changed in your environment and what impact those changes are going to have moving forward,” Swartz said.
Identify Gaps and Constraints – The next step is to identify what’s not working as well as you’d like. Look at people, processes, and technology, she advised. What kind of gaps were exposed when conditions suddenly changed? Did you have to create new processes to get people to successfully work remotely? “I talked to several people in the industry and they said that they had calls from friends or family members, because they had trouble getting their home office set up. Their company had basically sent them home, gave them no instructions, no setup processes or anything,” Swartz said. To avoid problems like these during the next crisis, you must identify what processes to create in order to get people working remotely. What existing issues that were livable before had to be addressed when everything changed? she asked.
Discover What to Keep, Eliminate, and Have Going Forward – Lastly, Swartz suggested that in order to determine the best approach for the future, you must “dig deeper and discover what you really need, [because] it’s more about the bigger picture.” For example, you must determine if a standalone collaboration app suffices for your business needs or whether an enterprise platform that provides a variety of integrated functionality is better, she said. Noting that some employees may longer want a desk phone, some tools may not be needed any longer, and some previously nice-to-have capabilities are now must-haves. It also might be a good time to “survey [your users] and find out what obstacles and challenges they’re experiencing,” and take a look at existing contracts to “make sure that you understand your contractual obligations,” Swartz added. What contracts are in effect? When do they expire? Do they auto-renew? Are there termination penalties if you can’t cancel the services early? “Take all of that into account,” she said.
If you don't put in your due diligence to understand your requirements, you won’t be able to budget accurately, Swartz stressed. You may even find things to disconnect or eliminate, and that’s good news, she said. Perhaps you’ll even realize enough savings to cost justify your next project.