Cloud

Future of connected productivity – smart cloud and smart devices?

Future of connected productivity – smart cloud and smart devices?

Is the future of connected productivity spanning across smart cloud and smart devices? Can we expect deeper synergy between cloud and devices?

Today’s trends

Fast trends across industries force many organizations to quickly innovate. Organizations are looking at streamlining and adjusting processes, so it’s no surprise that many IT-related assets and services are under heavy scrutiny. This poses additional opportunities to think outside of IT and focus on what really matters for the business. But what is the role that cloud services and devices play?

Cloud services

Organizations are rightfully looking to simplify the existing IT assets by adopting cloud services. Today – many cloud services need proper implementation, integration and configuration to precisely address the business needs of the organization and to maximize its value – more in this post.

Devices

Many users bring their own devices (BYOD) and demand to use them for productivity, gradually increasing the amount of assets managed (or co-managed) by IT. The footprint of corporate confidential data and corporate boundaries are growing. This further increases the complexity and manageability for the entire IT.

BYOD users yet rightfully expect to use same productivity habits and applications in the multi-dimensional world and don’t expect any compromises. Yet in reality for IT this would be the most difficult environment to set-up and maintain. So rules and standards are invented and implemented to protect the corporate data and it may seem that the user experience is left as last in this process.

User Experience Fragmentation

Devices we carry today are constantly more powerful and thus capable to deliver more. The way this personal computing power is translated into next generation interoperable and seamless user experience is yet to be seen. There are hundreds or thousands of apps and online services that perform related activities, but the integration story among them is weak – mostly none. This is very similar to early IT days where interoperability did not exist. As today on my phone one app does something and accesses a cloud service or two, the other one accesses another cloud service – oh and the third does corporate e-mail. Separate credentials, different user experiences and frustration with one single device… The more app the more frustration. Should not it be the other way around? Or even better just the right apps with great user experience?

Future of connected productivity = Smart Devices * Smart Cloud Services?

It is all about great and seamless user experiences. Devices in the future should work more like hubs, seamlessly bridging apps, cloud services and data, while protecting sensitive work and personal information. Cloud services and devices will start acting as multiplicators of overall value for users – both on business and consumer/personal level. Smart devices will become catalysts of cloud service adoption on many levels. It’s not just about the ability to access the cloud services – from anywhere and from any device – but about seamless and connected productivity.

I’m very excited to experience the future – simple yet rich experiences that would transform the way people consume smart cloud services for any purpose, at any time and from anywhere – using their smart devices.

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Is cloud the ultimate answer?

Landscape today

Many businesses outsource their IT infrastructure or parts to the cloud. They do it to reduce time to market and cost – both CAPEX related to ownership of hardware and software and OPEX typically related to operations, maintenance and labor. Time to market? As all IT processes (should) (directly) support the business – the sooner the process is up the better – the sooner the product can be delivered to the end customer the higher chance that the company makes more money.

The IT department challenge

Do all IT departments see clearly the connection to core business? IMHO No. They interact with the business departments but often don’t see beyond that. It could be hard to overcome – but why would you care about a particular IT process if it does not INCREASE the company revenue? Well yes regulatory compliance could be one exception – but what else? Would you as CIO keep investing into an application or infrastructure only because it’s cool? I don’t think so. The business side sees IT as a hurdle to doing more business and being agile. Now that is interesting – the misalignment between business and IT is increasing and it has negative impact on the organization itself – on ability to innovate, get more happy customers and drive more revenue.

Cloud – ultimate solution?

Now how to get out of it? Should the business think about cloud to “by-pass” their very own IT? Should IT step back and rationalize their processes and infrastructure and align it with end business? Should the IT be totally outsourced? Should the exiting IT be looked at as a separate revenue generating business?

It really depends, but the ultimate action should streamline and align the processes in IT with the end business to reach agility. The cloud is indeed a way to move some of the infrastructure out of the way in the restructuralization effort.

The cloud is not answer to all questions however. Business solutions are initiated by business need that should be formulated by the business and include all the ROI math. The same math should be considered in the business solution itself.

Business Need => Business Solution

The challenge of a business solution

From the “IT” side the “Business SolutionEQUALSIT ServicesPLUSSolution Implementation”. Looks like a simple equation for overall effort. Let’s analyze it a little. Moving IT Services to the cloud clearly decreases or *may* decrease the overall effort. Depending on type of business solution the implementation usually plays tremendously important role. Let’s say the business need is to implement e-mail system, the implementation itself could be more automated and simpler than answering complex multi-departmental portfolio need. But is the workload really the right way to look at things? Not really. The cloud can deliver what you need when you need it and it washes away the workload “problem” for “IT Services” today, but not for “Solutions Implementation”.

Getting back to our equation

Business Solution = IT Services + Solution Implementation

– cloud can help with lowering the effort for “IT Services” today. I still think about “IT Services” as a tool – like a wrench that can be used to tighten a bolt. But we need to have just the right bolt and the bolt needs to be tighten with just the right torque and re-torqued as needed – and that is exactly what the “Solution implementation” should take care of.

Conclusion

As no one wants to end up as a fool with a tool, implementation is the real important part that documents details, envisions, implements and trains; drives more adoption and continuously maximizes ROI of the entire solution. We clearly don’t want to under-spend in the solution implementation as it’s the vital part of every successful business solution. The cloud is the CATALYST of IT transformation that SPEEDS implementations of business solutions and REDUCES some cost aspects and complexity. But the cloud is not the ultimate answer to all the questions.

Would there be one day a “smart cloud” that would deliver the entire business solution? I truly believe so!