If Canadian enterprises are using cloud computing, their employees may be the last to know.
A recent research bulletin from Toronto-based Pollara of more than 1,000 employees across the country showed some disturbing figures: 37 per cent said they were not aware of whether their companies are using any type of cloud service and 43 per cent said they weren’t and have no plans to do so. For Pollara senior vice-president Lise Dellazizzo, the survey raised a scary prospects for CIOs who want to move to the cloud: user mutiny.
In an e-mail interview, I asked Dellazizzo to expand upon the research findings.
CWC: How can companies begin to close the divide around cloud computing between IT managers and users as shown by the Pollara research?
LD: One of the core issues appears to be a prominent disconnect between what IT may perceive to be more efficient, cost effective or forward looking and how users perceive their daily experience with technology. Each camp has its own set of priorities and values when it comes to what makes their work experience productive (and pleasant) and many of these notions are not in sync. For example, although cost effectiveness is a top priority for IT, users are not at all concerned about what the company spends on its IT budget – they are far more concerned about ease of use, simplicity, speed, fluidity and relevant functionality: Can I get my job done faster, better, easier?
In many cases retaining the status quo plays also an important role in resisting change, and the degree of resistance depends on a number of factors including the job itself, the company, culture, industry, the age and tenure of the employee. Therefore, although cloud solutions may in some cases actually deliver superior performance and meet some of the criteria on users’ wish list – lack of communication, heightened enthusiasm, company-wide evangelizing, gradual and consistent exposure, easy, fun and accessible training – all work against willful adoption.
These are “soft” aspects of IT adoption which senior technology managers may not be well versed in: they have a job to do, objectives to meet – and very real financial constraints and/or parameters. Their performance is measured on KPIs directly related to their work – and accelerating the rate of adoption for cloud technology is likely not one of them. So the issue becomes how and who is tasked with this? Assuming that the superior performance of a given solution under consideration is proven and ready for deployment – the company needs to develop an adoption strategy that includes all of the above mentioned actions in addition to providing unflinching support from its tech people during this phase. They also have to allocate enough time in their plan to allow for an attitudinal as well as technical transition to take place.
CWC: Given the low percentage who confirmed planned usage, how should IT managers prepare a better business case for all stakeholders?
LD: In addition to the strategies mentioned above, the key behind the “business case” is to understand what the need is and where the pain resides: The need is selfishly driven by having to get a job done with maximum output at minimum effort. Will IT’s cloud solution enable and facilitate this? The pain is what prevents me from achieving my goal. How will this specific cloud solution remove render these issues irrelevant?
In a nutshell – instilling and accelerating technology adoption within a company is not very different than implementing a new policy: either you implement it autocratically or you realize that if there is an incentive I understand on a human, selfish level (i.e., what’s in it for me?) – I will willingly embrace and perhaps even champion this solution.
CWC: What’s the difference between the kind of education Pollara recommends and the “hype” users may have gotten from vendors?
LD: When “education” works at its best, it is willingly internalized, actualized and evangelized. In other words – your constituents and stakeholders – in this case, employees, do the work for you. Think about how quickly adoption spreads when the right solution comes along that meets the wants and needs of most users. What it comes down to first and foremost is knowing what your user pain points and what they want that they aren’t getting (unmet need). If a given cloud solution is a good fit for the company it should be relatively simple to map these needs to the proposed solution and clearly make a case for adoption.