Why have so many companies moved to the cloud? Why are those who haven’t yet now considering cloud a top organizational priority?
We especially see this trend with organizations that want to perfect customer engagement and need to move fast and have a competitive advantage in uncertain times. The cloud has created a new way of working, and it’s important to consider how that way of working is different than what we did in the past.
As my colleague Simon Rudkin noted a few weeks ago in his blog post, the cloud has become a great tool to improve flexibility—but how, specifically?
Let us consider a typical enterprise software project. You know how these projects go, something like:
- Evaluate available solutions. It may include research, RFPs, demos, feature comparisons, cost analyses, security reviews, and several discussions to get to internal and external alignment on the problem and the best-fit solution.
- Buy your chosen solution once you have negotiated pricing and terms, engaged procurement, and worked with legal teams to get contracts in place.
- Design topologies for servers, networks, storage, and other devices required to run and support your new solution. Note this work is often done by highly skilled and well-paid individuals who are likely already occupied with top-priority work.
- Order infrastructure—and wait. Wait for approvals after you raise a capital expense against your budget, and then wait some more, before the arrival of your equipment.
- Install and configure your solution once your project gets scheduled with IT teams. They will also protect your solution with appropriate security measures, and validate that everything works as expected. It’s important to note things often don’t—so more time is needed to iron out issues.
- Customize & configure your solution depending on your specific needs. Many enterprise software solutions can be greatly customized to match the requirements you’ve developed. This effort could be anything from simple configuration to complex coding against APIs by your own or contracted software developers.
- Train your employees for a new way of working once things are implemented the way you want them. Changing your team’s tools and work behaviors is often a huge challenge which requires a lot of oversight and attention.
- Roll out your solution to all your user-base according to a change management approach fitting your environment. This could be done in a big-bang all at once method, or location by location, or business unit by business unit, or some other logical approach given your environment. Rollouts can take weeks or months and are often fraught with challenges.
The effort, cost, and time to go through these steps can be significant. In many cases, large enterprise implementation projects take longer and cost more than originally expected. This could be for a wide range of reasons.
Sometimes things just turn out to be harder than anticipated. Other times, once you see how something works in the context of your data, you may rethink things to meet your organization’s needs. Knowing that traditional implementations are costly and can take weeks or months to complete, we all would love to find a way to remove some of these steps—or at least reduce their effort and cost significantly.
Now, once you have implemented the perfect solution aligned to your organization’s goals, there is still a lot of work to make sure it keeps up with your needs over time. These areas include:
- Maintaining your solution and its supporting infrastructure
- Protecting your information and the information of your customers
- Upgrading to new versions to get the latest capabilities, performance, and protections
- Adding or removing capacity as demand changes
- Replacing infrastructure as it nears its end of life
- Innovating and experimenting to solve new problems
- Changing your solution’s feature set or customizations to meet new demands.
Several of these areas may give reason to revisit some of those costly implementation steps noted earlier. For example, upgrading software every couple of years may require additional software buying, infrastructure design and ordering, configuration changes, training and user rollout.
Changing your solution’s feature sets may require infrastructure design and purchases, installation and configuration, customization, training and more user rollout.
But of all the items in the list, where is the most value to be created? Are these items all “overhead” to running enterprise software? Well, the most important area of value creation is often the item most easily overlooked. Innovating and experimenting are foundational elements of business agility—yet are often undervalued because they are overshadowed by the other burdens occupying your solution-related resources and time.
We are pretty far into our discussion to introduce Business Agility as a concept. However, it’s now important to call out that the number one thing all businesses need, especially in uncertain times, is the ability to change—quickly and effectively.
Why have I spent so much time outlining eight cornerstones of implementation and seven signature items of sustaining a typical enterprise solution? Because several of these items are boat anchors tethered to your organization, preventing you from maneuvering through the seas of customer and market demand changes.
The cloud is a means of shedding several of these anchors and freeing up your organization to respond to ever-changing needs. Cloud alone still requires some upkeep of infrastructure, albeit virtual infrastructure. Going one step further with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you can leverage the cloud to remove even more of these weights often holding back organizations. With SaaS, your organization no longer is hindered by:
- Implementation burdens:
- Designing local infrastructure topologies
- Ordering hardware
- Installing and configuring server software
- Customizing solutions
- Training users becomes far less burdensome given new features are frequent and small
- Sustaining burdens:
- Maintaining the solution (monitoring, patching, testing, troubleshooting, etc.)
- Protecting the solution (security, compliance, encryption, certifications, scanning, etc.)
- Upgrading the solution (and all the implementation steps noted above)
- Replacing hardware due to end of life
- Changing the solution’s feature set (installing new software, hardware, etc.).
With many of these items now off your plate, you can focus on experimenting with new innovations, and their quick adoption. If you want new capabilities, turn them on. If you want to do a proof of concept, provision a test area and give it a go.
If you need to dramatically increase the number of agents to respond to an unforeseen event, do it with ease. All without getting stuck in the queue waiting for a new capital expense to get approved, the queue for the new hardware to arrive, and the queue for IT to install, configure and protect.
If we have learned nothing else over the last several months, we’ve learned that change is ever present—and we don’t have time to wait to respond to that change. Our responses must be fast and effective, and we must continuously drive toward business agility.
This is why so many organizations have and will continue to move to the cloud. It’s not merely a deployment option—it’s a vehicle to help companies wanting agility to realize it.
Cloud has also introduced economies of scale related to the burdens noted above. Because cloud and SaaS providers are addressing these needs across entire markets, the cost is going down and the quality of offered services is going up.
Most organizations have limited budgets to spend on areas such as security, redundancy, scaling, business continuity, and performance optimization. Cloud and SaaS providers are investing millions of dollars each year to improve, perfect, and reduce costs in these areas—these benefits are then passed to consumers of cloud and SaaS services, for nominal costs.
For example, it is common for a typical organization to receive greater security by moving to the cloud given the massive investments made by cloud and SaaS providers who serve hundreds or even thousands of customers, compared to the investments made by the typical organization in their own security programs.
Finally, consider the advantage of using cloud when your competitors do not. Companies that bear the burden of all the items noted above have fewer resources to focus on their core business and have more tethers to the anchors keeping them from making quick navigational changes to their trajectory.
An organization that is fully in the cloud can potentially leapfrog their competitors because they have a built-in ability to change and transform.
You already know that Verint is THE Customer Engagement Company and that we offer best of breed solutions in almost everything you would ever need to dramatically improve customer satisfaction and increase organizational operational efficiency.
But did you also know that Verint is a top provider of CX solutions in the cloud? Cloud is far more than a cost consideration; it is a tool for digital transformation. Come join us.