This is the latest in a five-part series on the “cloud-forward” movement, its benefits and risks.
It takes planning and a new way of thinking to become a cloud-forward business. Companies have to discard the status quo and take a new, user-centric approach to how IT resources are provided and managed.
Being a cloud-forward company means reimagining how individuals and teams can work by having the freedom and flexibility to use the cloud apps that fit the user’s needs, and empower each of them to work better and smarter. That’s a reversal of the more traditional approach where users have to adapt to whatever technology they are provided.
That sort of change can often be uncomfortable, and even unsettling to an organization used to running in a particular way. But when it comes to the cloud-forward transition, the ultimate return is worth the time and investment. Cloud-forward companies will discover the value of this new approach in three distinct areas:
- Stimulating growth
Today’s marketplace is incredibly dynamic and the pace of change is relentless. A business can find it daunting to keep up with change, and keep the business up and running at the same time, potentially leading to reduced productivity or lost opportunity. Being cloud-forward allows businesses to gain flexibility and rapid access to tools, services and collaboration so they can more easily respond to the marketplace, or bring new ideas to the market ahead of the competition. This ability to go rapidly from concept to commerce gives first-mover advantage and drives growth.
- Maximizing talent
No matter the industry, product or service, people are the most important factor in business success. Tapping their ideas, ingenuity and initiative – the talent in a business – is crucial to realizing their full potential and that of the company. By properly managing access to cloud-based apps and connecting all the available tools together in user-centric ways, cloud-forward businesses free their people to spend time productively, instead of wrestling with technology.
- Managing Risk
One of the reasons that many companies tightly control access to cloud apps is the very real concern about the security risks posed to the business. The combination of many users, many services and many passwords multiplies that risk, as does the desire of users to share their information actively with team members inside and outside the enterprise. This presents a serious challenge to IT, and the solution often is to take a top-down, restrictive approach to access. While security is not an option, the more difficult official access becomes for users, the more it can encourage them to evade controls, create personal accounts, or store sensitive data insecurely. Cloud-forward companies are ones that have identified and implemented an approach to security and access that’s user-centric, yet closely managed. They reduce risk by providing seamless security that protects the business but frees the imagination.
Over the coming months, new technologies and management tools that are being developed for this new approach will make it even easier for a business to make the cloud-forward transformation. With these management tools and services, the current model of disparate cloud-based applications will itself morph into an interlocking platform of interacting applications and services. Providers of cloud-based applications will have more freedom to incorporate powerful new features and capabilities that depend on this interaction with other applications. Businesses will thus be able to plug together a range of third party, best-of-breed applications to create a unique cloud-based application environment that suits the individual needs of that business.
This is the future that Bitium is helping to create. We are building APIs into our software that will enable apps to connect easily and securely with other apps in the ecosystem, bringing users and app developers together in ways not possible today. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for any size company to become a cloud-forward enterprise and realize the opportunities that represents.