Medium-sized businesses should be some of the greatest beneficiaries of the cloud, thanks to their “happy medium” between small-business agility and enterprise-grade scale. Yet more than 20% of all medium-sized organisations in Australia admit they still struggle to keep pace with the rate of technological change in their industries.
Many of those also admit serious concerns about the future’s unknowns – what some like to call FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), an ailment more commonly associated with larger businesses when it comes to cloud. Yet, as in most cases, many causes of FUD stem more from misperceptions than reality – and medium-sized enterprises have at their disposal more opportunities than most to overcome them.
Complexity: The chief concern?
Many of the customers we talk to highlight the complexity of the cloud as a chief concern. Improving agility and streamlining operations certainly feature amongst most organisations’ top priorities, and most recognise that the cloud can help them do so – but actual cloud adoption appears more complex than ever before. More and more larger businesses are taking on a multi-cloud approach to their IT services and infrastructure, while “born in the cloud” smaller businesses run their operations on almost exclusively as-a-service digital basis. Medium-sized business leaders can understandably feel stuck in the middle – having to wrestle with both cost constraints and legacy IT as they explore the cloud.
Furthermore, not all cloud services or platforms work well with one another – adding to the complexity associated with designing a cloud strategy that medium-sized organisations can afford to adopt. That complexity can, and often does, lead to inertia within the business, particularly when profits or revenues remain strong in the short- to mid-term. While medium business leaders may recognise the importance of digital transformation and the cloud, it may seem more prudent to put off self-disruption to another day, particularly when dealing with more pressing challenges. That approach, however, will only cost medium-sized enterprises in the long run as they find themselves truly stuck in the middle – having their market share and margins squeezed down by more nimble, scalable competitors on both sides.
Change the channel
Medium-sized organisations themselves may not have the technical expertise or resources to overcome the rising complexity of the cloud – but there are others who do. Instead of relying simply on their internal IT personnel – the skills of whom may often be as outdated as the infrastructure they manage – leaders should consider enlisting the help of IT partners, systems integrators, and other solutions providers who deal in the complexities of cloud – and aligning it to organisational needs – on a daily basis.
The best partners not only know a range of potential solutions inside-out, but also bring to the table extensive knowledge of how such solutions operate under a range of different organisational conditions. That proves particularly helpful in overcoming uncertainty about adopting multiple cloud solutions or platforms at once: a strong channel partner will help the business both choose platforms that work well with one another, then guide the implementation process to ensure maximal interoperability with minimal friction.
APIs, spin-up speed, and the “perfect platform”
Medium-sized organisations will typically struggle to find a single “cloud to rule them all”. Most organisations, both larger and smaller, are opting for portfolios of clouds for good reason: no one platform can support the full range of cross-business needs in a comprehensive manner. Medium-sized businesses can, however, seek to minimise the complexity of maintaining such a portfolio by opting for cloud services with strong levels of interoperability. Adopting those with their own APIs and well-known integration with other services can minimise ongoing maintenance and break-fixing of different clouds.
For medium-sized organisations to overcome cloud FUD, they should consider starting small – choosing a cloud platform or service which can be quickly spun up within their business and applied to an area where they can see quick, quantifiable improvements. Ideally, such a platform should provide high levels of interoperability which allow it to act as a “cornerstone” for future deployments that build out the organisation’s cloud portfolio. Many of our medium business customers start using NetSuite because it not only allows for fast, relatively painless deployment into even complex business models, but also addresses business functions. Supply chain and finance, for example have benefits that can be immediately and tangibly tracked. In many of these cases, the real credit goes to our channel partners who conduct the actual implementation – ensuring that the organisation avoids potential pitfalls and minimising the complexity of stepping into the cloud.
The consequences of failing to go digital are all too real for medium-sized businesses, but cloud-related FUD often lacks solid roots. Medium-sized business leaders should take that as encouragement to tap onto their existing scale and relatively flexible business processes, and take the first steps on their cloud journey. With the right partners and a strategic choice of platforms, they may find themselves growing faster and stronger than they imagined.