Measuring success: Getting value for money from cloud

In this guest post by Morten Brøgger, CEO of cloud-based collaboration firm Huddle, explains why enterprises need to look beyond price to get a good deal on cloud.

More than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud over the next five years, Gartner research suggests, yet getting a decent return on investment for their off-premise endeavours remains difficult for many enterprises.

And, while cloud spending rises, Gartner found the pace of end-user adoption is much slower than anticipated. But what’s causing this gulf between investment and adoption?

Confusion around cloud

A recent Huddle survey found end-users actively avoid company cloud collaboration and storage services, finding them restrictive and unintuitive.
For example, SharePoint is used by 70% of firms in the accountancy sector, and only 35% of them use it for collaboration purposes. The majority (75%) rely on email, USB drives and consumer cloud services instead.

The lack of suitable cloud services to support collaboration also hinders the promise of enterprise mobility. Mobile workers should, theoretically, be able to work on-the-go with minimal difference to their working processes.

This means access to documents, the ability to perform basic tasks, and regular communication with team members should be barely affected, regardless of device. While many workers do now use their smartphones and tablets for emails (73%) as well as access (34%), share (32%) and approve documents (25%), the Huddle survey suggests productivity has either been hampered or stopped entirely for these end-users.

With dedicated cloud services being avoided, this raises issues around security, productivity and client experience, which may have huge repercussions on the efficiency of both the business and client servicing.

As enterprises continue to look to cloud, how can companies ensure the gulf between investment and adoption is minimised and ROI is being delivered?

Value is more expensive than price

After years of SaaS vendors pricing for growth, the market is accustomed to the idea that cloud-based software will always be cheaper than on-premise, and suppliers should be assessed on price alone.

However, it’s important for companies to rid themselves of these preconceptions. For example, multi-national vendors who offer on-premise and cloud-based products can be priced in a way that only works within a certain deployment size, or takes up to five years for Total Cost of Ownership to that level.

The ability to recognise the value these services can offer your company is also critical. Are you looking to save on infrastructure costs? Are you planning to ramp up operations in the coming months, and need a solution that offers greater scalability? Is the cost of on-site support and maintenance your biggest headache? Perhaps it’s none of these.

Regardless of the reason behind the cloud investment, companies must factor in the real value that it offers the business and not just the price tag.

Adoption is now a metric for ROI

The metrics measuring ROI now extends beyond simple infrastructure savings. The cheapest vendor might deliver some up-front savings but what happens to your ROI six months down the line when user adoption is at just 10%?

Companies must learn not to just throw technology at an existing problem. For example, if a cloud service is chosen to help teams share and store information, it must do just this. The service needs to actively support the user by being easy-to-use, accessible on all devices and make work processes like approvals simpler. At the same time, the technology must be secure and transparent.

Don’t forget the SLA

Cloud providers often shy away from talking about SLAs, favouring instead to publish generic T&Cs online. These tend to be buried deep on their site, making the deliverables easy to forget during a negotiation.

However, enterprise companies must be bold and ensure the solution meets both the technical and operational requirements. Typical SLA components should include service availability, maintenance periods, and support.

With more than $1 trillion in IT spending on the line, the shift to cloud must deliver an appropriate ROI for the enterprise. Businesses must now factor in usability, access and education to drive end-user adoption, choosing only to deploy cloud services that can add value to both the business and its workers.