Today, more and more businesses are predominantly using cloud-based tools and applications to run their business. However, that doesn’t mean IT is pointless or unnecessary. In fact, if you use cloud applications and services for your business, your IT department needs to be stronger and more dynamic than ever.
Instead of lurking around in a cupboard full of servers, the important people who make up your IT department, will have an ever-growing and constantly changing list of responsibilities once your business makes its way completely into the cloud. These responsibilities will be focused on:
- supporting and training application end users
- enabling application mobility
- adding value through customization
Servicing the Cloud
The most essential role for IT partners in the age of the cloud is simple. While server maintenance might be a thing of the past, today’s IT partners still have a responsibility to:
- monitor network performance
- maintain firewalls
- run audits
- fix bugs
- perform many additional tasks that haven’t disappeared because your business has moved to the cloud.
Many of these responsibilities have grown as businesses have become more dependent on cloud technology. As applications become more interconnected, the value of maintaining those applications becomes a priority. For example, the negative effects of bugs that cause data to be compromised multiply when data is shared between ERP, Customer Service, CRM, and HCM applications. It becomes essential to have an IT partner and professionals who know how to eliminate bugs and streamline the application experience for your company’s end users.
Training and Support
In almost all businesses, cloud apps will be an essential element of some project or initiative. Whether it’s something as straight forward as email or something as complicated as a company-wide ERP system. Still, using new and complex apps can be intimidating for end users, particularly for those whose expertise lie far outside the techy sphere. In these cases, teams often need IT professionals to train them and discuss best practices when it comes to using their apps. Without proper training and support, it’s very unlikely that any company using a cloud app will be able to capture the app’s full potential.
It’s not just about convenience, either: without an expert to discuss protocol, there’s a chance that unknowing end users could compromise the security of the cloud environment.
Managing a Mobile Environment
If we think about the major shifts that have happened in the past. Standalone to the Internet, mainframes to servers, PCs to tablets, and phones to smartphones— each was supposed to make things easier, but instead it seems each has added to the complexity. The cloud will have the same impact.
Nowhere, is the complexity of a cloud-enabled work environment more apparent than in the world of mobile devices. From email management to mobile programming, the business world’s “major shift” to the cloud only adds to the responsibilities of an IT department. The IT team is there to understand the inevitable and rapid changes of a technological world moving forward at a frantic pace. If for no other reason, you need an IT partner so that the rest of your business can survive in the changing climate of business technology.
Adding Value through Customization
For many years, IT has been seen as the department that keeps things running smoothly. If IT wasn’t on anyone's mind that meant that the IT department was doing its job. Rather than adding value, IT professionals maintained a company’s technological environment to a minimum standard. It was an important duty, but one based upon preventing mishaps rather than developing ideas and contributing to the company’s bottom line.
However, that has changed. In the world of cloud applications and services, leading IT departments must adapt to a new role, one that adds value in definable, important ways. The need for management and customization of large-scale cloud environments makes it necessary to have a capable and versatile IT team.
A major advantage of the cloud is scalability—the ability to reproduce the same application or service for a business of any size. With scalability, comes limitations. The same qualities that make it easy to produce thousands of licenses for customers also makes it difficult to customize and adjust those licenses to fit the specific needs of each department using them.
One of the main obstacles to large-scale cloud adoption, has been the lack of customizability, according to experts like TechTarget’s Christine Parizo. But many major cloud applications offer plenty of customization options. Here’s the catch: in order to take advantage of these customization options, you need IT professionals who know how to transform the app you bought out of the box into the app that will bring your business to the next level.
IT partners and IT support professionals haven’t disappeared because businesses are moving decisively to the cloud. However, the role of IT in the modern workplace has undergone a shift. While any change is difficult, optimists in the IT department can find multiple silver linings in the shift to the cloud. Indeed, it may help them envision a stronger, and more visible role for IT in the future.
The cloud-enabled IT department has a much more integrated, interactive role, providing services to end users and putting a human face to IT. It will provide essential support services for the entire business. It will enable and sustain workforce mobility, an imperative for any business in today’s world. It will add value and contribute to the enterprise’s bottom line by tailoring apps to meet the specific demands of each and every different group of end users.
Of course, the role of IT in your business depends upon your specific needs. Small start-ups may not need a full-fledged IT department to manage their cloud applications, but might fit better with IT consultants who work with multiple small companies in similar positions.
Experienced business professionals have weathered many changes throughout their careers, but the massive shift to the cloud represented one of the largest in history. It’s so easy to purchase and use many basic cloud applications that the temptation to ditch IT entirely can be strong. However, once you take a closer look, you’ll realise that you need IT more than ever.
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