Moving your organization’s data and processes from on-premise to cloud-based systems is rarely a simple decision, even if you’re making the transition area-by-area or system-by-system. The benefits of cloud computing are clear—and it’s easy enough to earn conceptual buy-in from even the most non-technical executive—but at the end of the day, cloud computing is a C-suite investment. That means you’ll need to answer some important questions to ensure your cloud computing goals receive strategic support.
Read on to learn 5 of the most common questions you’re sure to hear from your executive team before pressing “Go” on your first cloud-based software investment.
1. Is now the time for cloud computing?
The simple answer to this question is, “if not now, then when?” Maybe a better answer is, “it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!” Depending on the size and growth stage of your company—not to mention your existing IT environment—you could be ready to upgrade or replace your legacy systems or adopt brand-new applications to meet new business needs. You really can’t ignore the cloud-based software offerings permeating the marketplace, and it’s in your best interests to consider them, even if doing so requires a change in the way you manage your data, business processes, and workflows.
Take a look around at what other companies are doing. Results from the 2016 IDG Cloud Computing Survey provide insights into how organizations are integrating cloud computing models (i.e. SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) into their IT environments:
- 70% of organizations have at least one application in the cloud
- 56% of organizations are still identifying IT operations that are candidates for cloud hosting
- Within the next three years, organizations have the largest plans to move data storage/data management (43%) and business/data analytics (43%) to the cloud
Organizations are not necessarily going “all-in,” all at once; they’re implementing solutions piecemeal, investing in the cloud-based solutions that will impact them most today with an eye on what’s next.
Take a closer look at the trends in The Factors Driving Cloud Adoption and Digital Transformation in 2018—and Beyond.
2. Will cloud adoption result in competitive advantage?
This question invites a strategic conversation. Why are you considering a cloud-based software solution in the first place? Yes, you’ll benefit from automated efficiency, 24/7 on-demand access to your data and tools, simpler administration (IT and otherwise), and lower overall costs—for starters. These benefits can lead to some competitive edge, certainly, but how do they support a larger business strategy? What does your company need to get ahead? The agility to move into new markets or a greater focus on the end-to-end customer experience?
A cloud-based financial management and cloud accounting system streamlines your back office and can improve your vendor relationships, give visibility into cash flow, enable multi-entity and multi-currency accounting, and strengthen your reporting and decision-making prowess. A cloud-based customer relationship management system can empower your sales, marketing and account management teams and uncover new opportunities for revenue and client service.
If your company’s next steps demand the flexibility, performance, and scalability that cloud-based solutions can provide, then you can tie-in competitive advantage to the benefits of your investment.
3. How secure are the cloud-based applications, really?
There’s perceived safety in leaving your data where it is—on in-house servers, where it’s always been. The IDG study confirms that concerns about the security of cloud solutions (e.g. where data is stored, the risks of unauthorized access, and data integrity) remains a barrier to implementation, although the concern is becoming less extreme. Not only is it clear that technology vendors are using state of the art methods to keep their customers’ data secure, but business decision makers are getting the message and adopting the technology.
For a peace of mind example, consider just a few of NetSuite’s security features:
- Secure Data Center. Company operates 5 guarded and regularly audited data centers (three in the US and two in Europe), each with a dedicated data center providing data mirroring, disaster recovery, and failover capabilities that support other regional data centers.
- Secure Applications. Users have access to only the application features, not the underlying database or infrastructure components. What’s more, customers can assign role-based permissions and IP address restrictions. Application services have a guaranteed 99.5% uptime.
- Comprehensive Security Certifications. NetSuite has passed a SSAE 16 Type II and ISAE 3402 Type II audits (prepared by and audited by a Big Four audit firm), is certified for PCI-DSS (and also offers optional 3D Secure credit card authentication), and is EU-US Privacy Shield Compliant. They have defined their Information Security Management System in accordance with NIST standards, including 800-53 and ISO27000 series standards.
Learn more from NetSuite here. And don’t miss 3 Steps to Calm Your Fears About Moving Your Data to the Cloud.
4. What are the “quick wins” we can expect?
A Deloitte survey found that the rapid time-to-value cycle was among the top reasons mid-market companies chose cloud based services ahead of traditional on-premise solutions. While we can’t argue that the stretched-over-time benefits of a lower cost of ownership and scalability reign supreme, there are certainly concerns over how quickly your organization will start reaping the rewards of cloud computing.
Cost-savings are realized from the very beginning, as you don’t have the up-front investments required for on-premise systems. Traditional software that’s run on in-house machines need up-to-date machines to run on as well as expensive software licenses. Cloud-based software is delivered “as a service,” which means your data is hosted and maintained on your vendor’s remote servers and available for subscription user access via any connected computer or mobile device, around the clock.
The productivity gains become clear once your cloud-based software is up and running. If you’re implementing a financial management and cloud accounting solution, for instance, your employees will no longer be tied to manual processes that are both time-consuming and error-prone. Automation affords them with more time and energy to spend on more strategic projects—like reporting and data analysis, two other tasks made push-of-a-button easy with cloud-based software.
5. How soon will we be “off to the races” with our software?
As discussed by members of Forbes Technology Council in 13 Biggest Challenges When Moving Your Business To The Cloud, “when it comes to cloud adoption, the biggest challenge isn’t technology—it’s the people and processes that must change and adapt.” The software is designed to be relatively quick to deploy. It’s built on the most up-to-date platforms and maintained using the latest-and-greatest protocols. We like to say it was “born ready” to get to work for your company. But your internal implementation team and software users, from the top-down, are critical to success.
That’s why it’s so important to work with a technology vendor who understands your business and software needs, has a deep knowledge of both the demands and capabilities of the software you’re implementing, and is committed to working with your budget and existing IT environment to get the job done correctly. The right vendor will help you prepare your entire team to make the cloud computing transition and walk you through, step by step.
Whether you are implementing a new CRM system, or just need help moving some email, MIBAR can safely introduce new cloud technologies into your organization and teach you how to use them effectively. Schedule a free consultation with us to learn more!