IT and business leaders need to increase cloud knowledge

Understanding is the key to success in many areas of business – especially when it comes to the uptake of new technologies.

The cloud is just one of these technologies where success is required, given the advantages of effectively utilising the platforms. To succeed in the cloud, IT leaders and senior managers in a company need to better understand the benefits and challenges of the platforms, and the most appropriate investments. 

This article will explore the current state of cloud understanding within businesses and the most effective implementations to pursue.

The knowledge barrier

It's not surprising to find a substantial knowledge barrier for a new technology or platform, especially given the often confusing coverage of exactly what it offers.

Cloud-based services have certainly faced this issue, and a recent survey of UK SMEs by YouGov has uncovered the primary understanding barriers.

Of 529 survey respondents, a lack of knowledge, privacy and security concerns rated at the top of the concerns list.

Let's explore the five key barriers that are affecting cloud uptake among businesses:

1. Lack of knowledge: This is the most general, essentially a lack of understanding of exactly what cloud services provide. This is the first barrier to implementation that needs to be overcome, and also the most pertinent issue.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of survey respondents explained that this was their key challenge with a cloud transition.

2. Security/Privacy: Rating second on the list of barriers with 28 per cent, this is another critical area that's a common subject of misconception.

The cloud doesn't actually mean reduced security and privacy, and in many cases can actually offer improvements. For example, with a vendor running cloud operations services are monitored around the clock.

3. Connectivity/Access: Cloud platforms are hosted online, and usually offsite. This is so they can be operated out of data centres and scaled when necessary.

This may lead to access concerns, but these are unfounded. Data centres are designed to remain online even during blackouts, ensuring a company can always access the required services. A substantial 21 per cent stated this as a key issue.

4. Reliability: Similar to the above point, and coming in at 21 per cent, is reliability. This is how the cloud services operate day to day, and whether there are frequent issues. Obviously if businesses are moving into the cloud they'll want stability assurances.

Reliability isn't an issue, as services are often running on the most capable hardware, and dedicate staff constantly assess services.

5. Speed of access: Ranking as the fifth key issue with 19 per cent, speed of access is dependant on the internet connection of the business. While not so important when it comes to cloud-based file storage, it's critical when running a virtual office.

To ensure speed is never an issue, businesses should ensure internet connections are a top priority.

A cloud implementation could be difficult to put in place, but only if it's managed incorrectly by the business.

If IT and business leaders understand which technologies are likely to be most useful, a cloud effort faces a higher chance of success.

Of course, this requires another consideration – are there certain technologies that need to be considered?

What implementations should businesses pursue?

Businesses should choose cloud technologies that are known to be effective, and studies such as the YouGov report have also detailed where companies are placing cloud focus.

A significant 28 per cent of respondents said collaboration tools were the primary focus, new communication services to make it easy to work seamlessly whether at home or in the office.

File storage and back up followed with 20 per cent. These technologies make it easy to back up critical files and documents offsite on a cloud server, where they're kept secure in the event of an onsite hardware failure.

These are just two of the possible technology implementations, but they're certainly capable of showcasing the power of a cloud implementation, and overcoming business prejudices about the capabilities of a cloud platform.