autumn
Business Management

Barry Regan (UK) - Indispensable: Change management in the Cloud

The use of cloud computing is not only changing IT, but also the structure of British companies because of the new way that users, IT departments and technology all interact with one-another. Cloud computing provides centralised access to applications and data, which not only increases productivity and flexibility, it is also changes the way we work.

Recent research from Avanade shows that 75% of UK companies claim to use cloud in some way, but with the majority doing so in conjunction with non-cloud systems. More and more organisations are realising the importantance of being able to transition completely, in order to realise the full cost saving potential of cloud computing.

For digital natives - i.e. employees under 30 - this transition is no problem. After all, they have been living in the cloud for years with Facebook, Twitter and other social media applications. However, users accustomed to working within heterogeneous system environments, with their extensive rights and freedom, will need to do a bit of rethinking. It's not just users: IT departments also need to adjust the way they work to optimise the benefits of cloud.

Users need a helping hand

In the UK, many employees have become used to the traditional desktop application model and as a result like the individuality and ‘independence' it can afford. The user experience shifts as a result and for this reason, many will resist the change to cloud computing in the beginning. It can be difficult for employees to see cloud computing replace their personal computer with thin clients, and their ‘fat-client' e-mail environments removed in favour of more cost-effective models with VDI terminal servers.

Because data is stored and accessed on a central platform, the freedom of users to make their own individual adjustments reaches its limits - something that is definitely favoured by IT administrators because of its increased ease of manageability.

As a result, long-term local installations make way for utilisation based on time and requirements. This can make local users afraid of losing their freedom to install whatever they want on their PCs. For many, this is equivalent to replacing user interests with the interests of senior management. Something else that shouldn't be underestimated is the feeling of security created by having data stored "locally" on users' own computers, instead of being out there somewhere in the cloud.

Manage users' expectations

The reality is that cloud computing isn't so clear-cut, but these apprehensions exist and must therefore be taken seriously by companies running cloud projects. Cloud projects have no chance of success without a change in management strategy.

Our advice to visionapp customers would always be that users must be informed and educated early on - even during the pilot phase - about upcoming changes to give them a feeling of security. And the stronger this feeling is, the greater the willingness to change. This approach also creates participants, who act as multipliers and pass on their positive experiences.

It may also be helpful during this introduction to highlight additional benefits. These include simplified mobility, working anywhere with any end device, or desktop personalisation and the integration of birthday calendars, which generate a "want-to-have" feeling, which can help to ensure the success of a project.

The silo mentality is passé

Project success also depends on the willingness of IT departments to rethink the way they do things. They are used to viewing individual areas as silos, a way of thinking and working that must be banished in the era of cloud computing. Networked thinking is required!

Desktop specialists need to talk with server managers, projects need to be implemented and executed across all areas. In the age of the cloud, it's about providing a service made up of different components, which means interdisciplinary competences need to be developed. All of this provides companies with new and exciting opportunities for further development and is something we at visionapp would always support our customers with.

Changes during cloud projects should not be limited to the technology, like the autumn leaves they must be all encompassing. People must be factored in from the very beginning - on both the user and administrator fronts. Only then will in an investment in cloud solutions pay off.


By Barry Regan, AVP, ASG at Visionapp

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