Overcoming the Obstacles to Cloud Collaboration

Rena Bhattacharyya

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud collaboration brings together two of the hottest trends in the IT industry.  It marries the productivity enhancements of collaborative solutions with the benefits of a cloud-based consumption model.
  • A recent Current Analysis survey shows that 64% of organizations use cloud services; of those, 26% already use cloud collaboration and another 15% plan to within two years.

Cloud collaboration is taking off – these services foster effective communication by bringing together real time communication such as voice, chat, video, and presence with persistent collaboration such as groups, messaging, activity streams, file editing/sharing, blogs, wikis, etc.  To be most effective, solutions must be easy to use, provide business analytics/intelligence capabilities, and integrate with line of business applications.  They should support the creation of a vendor ecosystem and deliver an integrated experience across applications and workflows.

Despite the numerous benefits, some organizations are reluctant to embrace cloud collaboration.  Yet solutions for overcoming obstacles are readily available; numerous players can help enterprises manage the most prevalent inhibitors.

Cloud-related inhibitors:

• Security and reliability.  Prospective customers worry that their cloud services vendor may not meet the strict security and performance guidelines they have established for themselves.  Working with a vendor that has extensive experience in safeguarding customer information is one way to assuage security concerns. Major carriers and infrastructure vendors include managed security services in their enterprise solution portfolios, enterprises can deploy these managed security solutions as a complement to the security features built in to carrier networks.  Another is to explore hybrid (cloud and premises–based) solutions that allow customers to maintain and control some of their infrastructure.

• Lack of technical expertise.  Organizations feel they lack the necessary skills to implement a new IT solution effectively.  However, most vendors offer professional services that facilitate the adoption of new services.  Many have vertical-specific expertise that can help a customer understand how to make the most of their investment and provide insight into best practices for their particular industry.

• Costs related to network upgrades and adding bandwidth to accommodate network traffic growth.  Organizations should work with their vendor to gauge the impact of the additional traffic and discuss options for optimizing their network.  These potential costs should be evaluated against the expected productivity gains and flexibility benefits that come with using a cloud based service.

Collaboration-related inhibitors

Security of access to content and material.  Many vendors have implemented specific security controls for collaborative solutions that allow customers to create customized policies that refine access to groups, teams, people, and content based on a finite requirement, such as users, roles, or tasks.

• Lack of business value/ lack of demonstrated business need.  Internal return on investment (ROI) calculations may not consider all variables; organizations should work with a vendor that has extensive experience creating ROI models before they make their decision. Many carriers offer professional service engagements that include a business planning process to make this evaluation.

• General lack of awareness of cloud-based collaboration solutions.  Many enterprises are not aware of the rapid strides vendors have made in bringing cloud based collaborative solutions on par with premise-based offerings and delivering a consistent experience to users across applications and devices.  Cloud-based collaboration is a compelling alternative for organizations that want to enjoy the benefits of a premise-based collaboration solution, yet want to purchase it via a flexible, cloud-based delivery model.

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