The Cloud Computing Road Map: Preparing Your Business for the Post-PC World

By Peder Ulander (Profile)
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Thursday, November 8th 2012
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The change in businesses from a workplace governed by an IT department, laptops and hard drives to an office that works and saves critical business data on “the cloud” is here. The workplace of the future is a workplace governed by virtualization. But even people savvy about the switch to virtualization still cling to their hard drives and a computing mindset that is more 2003 than 2012.

Systemic shifts in how we work and access and store information, however, are inevitable. Rapid changes in the enterprise -- and the move in business from PC-centric organizations run by IT professionals to workplaces governed by wireless, cloud storage and mobility -- are necessitating changes. Still, making the switch to the cloud doesn’t have to be daunting. Below, I’ve outlined six essential steps companies need to take to make virtualization and mobility part of business culture as opposed to a bonus.

Step One: Accept the Knowledge Gap

Even tech savvy folks don’t entirely get cloud computing and what it does. A recent Citrix survey found that 51 percent of poll respondents believe that stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing. However, 97 percent are using cloud services like social networking, shopping and banking.

Nonetheless, people know that it’s important to be smart about cloud computing; some even fib about how much they know. One-third of the respondents faked an understanding of the cloud in the office and another 14 percent did so in an interview. Seventeen percent of respondents even pretended to know what the cloud is during a date!

What this means is that businesses need to encourage people to be candid about what they know about the cloud. Workplace changes can seem daunting or punitive, especially to those accustomed to years or even decades of working a certain way. Minimize resistance by being open and forthright. Encourage questions. Accept that a large number of people -- even those glued to smart phones and Facebook feeds – might know very little about how the cloud works or what it does. Design your virtual “roadmap” for beginners but prepare to work with people who know more, too.

Step Two: Tell Employees about the Change

Before you start using the cloud to store data or make it possible to work virtually, you want to tell your employees what is afoot. Change of any sort is scary when it isn’t explained, especially a change away from a computing model that has existed for more than a decade.

The cloud can also seem daunting to workers who fear data could be lost or compromised. So, whether you are a large enterprise implementing an across-the-board move to cloud computing or a small business that’s dipping your toes in the cloud, you want to ensure that employees know what’s changing, why they should be comfortable and what the benefits are (more on those below). Finally, you need to explain that the cloud is actually more secure than your old hard drive.

Step Three: Take Your Time

One of the beauties of cloud computing is that once it’s explained it’s easy to use. Cloud services are easily updated and fixed. Don’t rush. Virtualization and the cloud work so well that once employees or IT departments see what they can do they’ll want to use the cloud rather than save work on a thumb drive or spend 12 hours in the office.