One of the most amazing attributes of the cloud and its related technologies is its sheer openness. New companies and ventures spring up daily, fueled, in some cases, by one single good idea. They launch first and then seek out operating capital through angels or crowdfunding afterward.
This is a whole new ballgame. In a similar vein, employees of established companies seek more flexible work hours, ask to use their own technologies, and turn to the cloud as the central place for meetings, communication and access to data. This too, is a whole new ballgame.
Organizations worldwide are learning that the hierarchies and silos of yesteryear are very quickly becoming redundant and obsolete. Data is king, and agility is essential. Such statements aren’t mere prognostications of a distant future; they are observations of an existing global marketplace, in which customers in both retail and industrial markets expect a complete and consistent experience across any channel they wish to use, from the desktop through to smartphone.
IT has always been in the middle of every corporate venture, but in this new age, it has become time to make a fundamental shift from focusing on IT to focusing on what can be done with IT. This is an amazing catharsis. It moves from physical, tangible elements to “ideas and potential.” Slowly, more and more organizations are recognizing that they must, and can, meet their strategic business objectives as well as provide better service to customers through an open concept approach, both inside and outside their walls.
The hybridization of the cloud is both timely and essential. Decision-makers must let go of the mindset of singularity, and the notion that they must constrain all data, all ideas, and all power inside a single building or department. Hybridization refers to a division of processing power, data storage, mission-critical applications and customer interaction between internal, private, and externally managed clouds.
Many analysts point to success stories like Uber and AirBnB, as companies who essentially own no hard assets, but who have changed the face of business permanently. But many other organizations also exist as case studies, who have slowly and carefully embraced cloud-based applications for their field agents, and for their suppliers, while developing collaborative workspaces internally. These organizations exist in every single market sector, from construction and manufacturing through to retail and professional services.
It is all a matter of mindset, and this springs in part from trust. For example, many decision-makers still distrust social media as an irrelevant and frivolous waste of employee time. They fail to observe its ability to reinforce one of the oldest and most stable concepts of business development: a direct connection to, and understanding of the customer. This same trust-challenge extends into enterprise-level problems such as determining the choice of cloud systems. It is very human to resist change, especially when the speed of change has increased from decades to months or even weeks. How can any Executive group hope to create a five-year plan when the sands shift so frequently?
Although many companies are now working on their transition to hybrid cloud and virtual technologies as core business applications, many others still struggle with the decision. There is much to learn, much to test, and many miles yet to travel.
Those that have succeeded, even if that path to success include some stumbling and some failure, have recognized that in addition to breaking down the walls and silos of technology, one must also break down the silos and walls of human interaction. This means allowing representatives from every department, not only IT, to work together to identify challenges, discuss solutions and implement change.
The hybridization of business points not only to the choice of technology, but to a hybridization of mindset and attitude. That should be seen as a very exciting concept.
For more on this topic, go to businessvalueexchange.com, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
By Steve Prentice