Your IT staff is already your lifeblood, but transitioning to cloud computing will further cement their value as a team. In this article, we’ll look at what is cloud computing, the strategy used by top CIOs and IT managers to achieve the best performance from their staff to effect smooth and successful change.
“Businesses that can unlock the usefulness of technologies more quickly…are best able to derive competitive and sustained advantage,” according to a new study by the International Data Corporation (IDC). This is particularly pertinent since they also predict that, in 2012, 80% of new commercial enterprise applications will be deployed on cloud platforms, and 50% of Global 1000 companies will store customer-sensitive data in the cloud by 2016. The cloud represents a major paradigm shift in business computing – perhaps the largest since the introduction of computing itself. It follows therefore that companies who pursue cloud expertise and creativity now will have a firmer foothold in the next business era (much like those organizations in the 1980s who recruited programming talent). Training is what has been key in these examples and instrumental in companies’ success. The IDC’s study cross-examines a sample of 515 IT managers and measures hours spent in training against the likelihood of project success. The findings are unsurprising, but informative: projects that spent above 6% of their budget on training saw little improvement beyond that seen by those projects spending between 5 and 6%. However, success fell off sharply when training expenditure was below 5%. In fact, for those projects that managed to meet “most or all” of their business objectives, each team member had received an average of 40% more training than members of project teams that failed or partly succeeded in their aims.
These results have deep ramifications for any business wondering whether they already possess the in-house expertise to found an internal cloud management team. Unless able to commit funds to training expenditure – in a sustainable way, since this technology is not yet mature – a much more logical and efficient decision would clearly be the outsourcing of resource and security management to external cloud management providers. Aside from contributing to overall project success, the IDC found that training in general improved productivity by around 10% – piling up all the benefits of faster project completion – and secured a more effective final product thanks to a greater amount of time devoted to “planning, refining processes, and improving infrastructures”. The study concludes that sufficiently trained personnel improve the chances of project success threefold. It is also not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that effective training could also account for the ‘over-performance’ of project products. Surpassing business objectives is the mark of an exceptionally successful project, and clearly a result made more likely by focused and concrete training.
The study further proposed that training for a technology as disruptive as cloud computing could not be compared to training for regular projects. Benefits from higher-level expertise would be seen across the board in ways that were predictable (greater willingness to deploy newer technologies in general) and less so (increased agility in the ability to react to new technologies as and when they are invented). Given the necessarily fluid nature of most business markets at the moment, a little extra learning agility in your IT staff is unlikely to go amiss!