October 22, 2012 - 11:09 AM
When starting to think about “the cloud” I have to say that it feels a little bit like preparing for a debate. If you hand me my stance of "pro" or "anti" I could probably make a good argument on either side. But I would be approaching it like a politician, meaning I’d be looking at all of the generalities, ignoring the details, and failing to compromise in the middle. On one side, TV commercials and techies speak emphatically about how we all need to completely move our businesses to the cloud, and that if you're not already there, you've been left behind. While on the opposite side, IT managers and executives use lack of security as a non-starter.
Recently I've enjoyed reading two studies on cloud computing. The first, CDW's 2011 "From Tactic to Strategy" and the second AIIM's 2012 "Content in the Cloud". Both of these papers say a great deal about where the market is today, the advocates and opponents, and where the technology is headed. There are a lot of great takeaways in both studies, but as an advocate for content management, what called out to me was that organizations had better get on board because their end users are already utilizing the cloud with or without them.
According to the AIIM study, 42% of those polled plan to use some form of cloud content management, and 42% of companies have no plans either way. Within these same companies 30% are seeing an increase in “unofficial” cloud content management and only 5% have an “official” cloud content option. For the adopters, the predominant driver is file sharing with 68% of users interested in collaborating internally, and 64% interested in collaborating with their customers. Since most of us had only dabbled in storing documents in DropBox and Google Docs prior to 2010, I predict that the "no plans either way" group is going to change dramatically over the next two years.
Business professionals are looking to take advantage of the many capabilities cloud collaboration can provide including:
- Multiple users working simultaneously on a document stored in a central place
- Mobile access
- Simple document sharing inside and outside of a network
- Elimination of reliance on email and the issues created by multiple versions of a working document in circulation
A common, not to mention valid, objection from IT managers and C-level leaders is the lack of security and governance in the cloud. However, without a policy from the top, who will lead the charge? End users. In this case, the do nothing approach is just as dangerous as taking the leap because without document governance, you're relying on individuals to manage the process themselves. Therefore you may not be taking advantage of higher level features such as:
- Version control
- Permissions based actions
- Workflow rules
Establishing a plan now, researching viable options to move your content to the cloud, whether public or private, and communication throughout your organization is a solid approach. Lead the conversation, set the parameters for content in the cloud now, or your organization will quickly lose control. In fact, it's likely you'll find that in addition to content collaboration; there is an extremely strong case to be made for the cost effectiveness of moving to a managed environment for operations purposes.
Defining how you are going to use Cloud based solutions doesn't have to mean that in 2013 you're moving everything to SAAS applications, hosting your servers offsite, and shutting down your IT department. But failing to acknowledge that working in a hybrid environment that includes cloud providers, private clouds, and on-premise solutions is inevitable is to take an unrealistic stance in the debate.
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International