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As we get towards the end of the spring ‘conference season’ I got to thinking. In my experience, regardless of how important, entertaining or ‘guru-like’ the keynote speakers might be, it is always the customer experiences; often in the form of question and answer discussion panels, that provide the richest insights. For me this is particularly interesting because I am currently working on a white paper specifically on the topic of ‘Living with the HR Cloud’ with a number of fascinating case studies. Anyway, I was therefore delighted to come across the latest piece of research from Harvard Business Review entitled ‘Cloud Computing comes of Age’ (the report is free but you have to register to download).
This report assesses the maturity (and thereby the experience) of customers who have deployed cloud applications. The results are quite significant. Those organisations classified as ‘cloud leaders’ also achieved higher levels of business success. It reports a correlation between an organisation’s cloud maturity and the health of its growth initiatives such as business expansion. The benefits that they realised included improved business agility, enhanced organisational flexibility and faster speed of deployment. They also reported improved decision making through an increased ability to analyse and act upon data and information. For HR leaders the natural consequence of this is the ability to offer a more proactive value added service to the business, something that I think we all aspire to.
Anyway, perhaps of most interest to me was the fact that the cloud leaders took a more managed and enterprise wide approach to their cloud applications, something that embodied a range of good practises. To give a few examples. Cloud leaders are more likely to define the business value that they expect to get from their cloud initiatives, 69 per cent in fact, compared to only 40 per cent of novices. Similarly, only 53 per cent of the survey had established policies for cloud security, a figure that rises to 79 per cent amongst cloud leaders. Also, cloud leaders are more likely to have a strong partnership between IT and other parts of the business. Cloud technologies including social, mobile etc. have had a democratising impact on IT and enhanced collaboration with business users is, quite rightly, becoming the norm.
However, to me, one thing stands out. Evidently cloud leaders are more than twice as likely to have a CIO who leads the transformation agenda!! Sure IT and business must work together, but somebody needs to be in charge, and that is the CIO. Now if you had said such a heresy a few years ago, you would probably have been strung up by a lynch mob to chants of ‘the business user is king’! The perceived wisdom at the time was that ultimate power was vested with the business and the user community. However, things have changed and the pendulum has swung back again. As the adoption of cloud technology has become more mainstream, the experience of users is that to be truly successful both parties, IT and the business, need to truly work well with each other.