What Your Business DOESN’T Know About the Cloud

Cloud Computing Fluid IT ServicesThe Most Critical Thing Your Business DOESN’T Know About the Cloud This is a tricky topic because what you don’t know, by definition, is something you are not aware of and thus is not part of your consciousness. The other variable complicating this topic is that defining what is “critical” to your business often depends on factors out of your control.

Coming at the cloud from a business perspective, “critical things you don’t know” can get complicated – fast. But in all my years of experience helping businesses with their cloud computing, I see two very important things that businesses in every vertical just don’t know.

Small Companies Are Dependent On Outsiders – “Trust Me… I’m Your Doctor.”

Small businesses do not typically have in-house IT staff. They are dependent on others to provide everything from a high-level technology strategy to tactical direction on what equipment they need, as well as the specifications and configurations of that equipment.

Small businesses are not in a position to know what to ask for with cloud solutions to meet their business needs (nor should they be). Typically there is not a technical person in the company to build out the specifications for what they need in cloud services. It’s hard to imagine a small business telling a cloud provider exactly how much storage, processing power, memory and bandwidth they require to run each of their software applications.

Even with those cloud solutions that are more defined to meet a specific need, such as SalesForce for customer relationship management (CRM) or Dropbox for file storage and sharing, there are still technical specifications to consider that a small business will need guidance on to ensure they get the right amount of services and that those services align to their business needs.

For the small business, the most critical thing they do not know about the cloud is how to provision the various cloud solutions to meet their business needs. They must rely on outside assistance from either the cloud vendor or a technology partner to help ensure they align cloud solutions to actual business needs now and going forward.

Mid-Sized Companies Are Dependent on Insiders – “Trust Me… I Know This Stuff Like the Back of My Hand.”

For mid-sized businesses, it is a very different landscape. Most mid-sized businesses (approximately 200 to 1,000 employees) will typically have some in-house IT staff; the larger the company, the more staff. The business will look to their in-house IT staff to advise and guide them in procuring the cloud services that meet their business needs. Mid-sized businesses will typically ask the internal staff to assist with cloud vendor identification, vetting and selection of a final solution.

For the internal IT staff to be successful, they need to understand the business well enough to ensure the cloud solution not only meets technical requirements, but also compliance, privacy, and regulatory requirements.

One problem I’ve seen is that there is a tendency for internal IT staff at mid-sized companies to become “stale” in their technical skill set over time. This is not their fault – it’s just a byproduct of working in a mid-sized company. There is often not enough time or formal processes to ensure that internal IT staff stay current in all technologies. The technology ocean is too big and too deep for internal IT staff to keep up and still meet the daily demands on the business. When you add the sheer volume of cloud alternatives, which are changing and growing every day, along with the number of industry-specific cloud solutions, it becomes daunting and intimidating to even attempt to keep up.

For the mid-sized business, the most critical thing they do not know about the cloud is how their own dependency and reliance on their internal IT staff may not translate to the best cloud solutions for the business, and can in fact create serious business risk if the wrong solutions are deployed. Using the wrong solution can result in unwise investment (lost $$$), lost productivity and decreased customer service, all of which can be enough to be a business ending event.