Third-party technology partners have been vital in assisting businesses throughout the pandemic, enabling them to stay resilient and operational as restrictions continue to change. This period of extreme uncertainty has forced companies to adopt online collaboration tools for staff that are geographically dispersed and shift the majority of their data and applications to the cloud.
Recent data from Statista has highlighted that worldwide spending on cloud infrastructure services reached $47 billion by the end of the second quarter of 2021. This rise in the number of businesses locating their data in the cloud was a natural fit during a time of great uncertainty, but now, with a new normal on the horizon, are organizations about to realize they acted on impulse rather than implementing a forever solution?
Changing relationships bring about new challenges in the cloud
We recently spoke to 500 senior decision-makers in the UK about their experiences during the pandemic to better understand their working relationships with third-party technology providers, and to find out how successful their cloud investments have been so far.
Over a third (35 percent) of respondents stated they now have a greater understanding of what those working in IT functions within their company can help them achieve within the wider business. Thirty-one percent feel more motivated to learn about how their company can enhance its agility, and 30 percent feel more motivated to learn about how their company can use cloud technologies to enhance products and services.
This shift has provided many of those surveyed with the chance to make strong cases for investment and accelerate decision-making. Worryingly however, over half (54 percent) of respondents believe unnecessary investments in technologies have been made with third-party technology partners over the last 12 months, increasing to 85 percent amongst owners and proprietors. Two-thirds (68 percent) report it remains to be seen if all investments made based on advice will be suitable long-term.
When it comes to working with third-party cloud partners, only 12 percent of respondents did not face challenges.
Top technology-based obstacles included concerns over data security, compliance, and regulatory issues, unexpected or unpredictable costs, and issues surrounding the management of data and applications between on-premise and cloud storage. Top obstacles to working with third-party cloud partners included an inability to admit fault or shortcomings when warranted, an unwillingness to compromise, a lack of honesty and integrity, a lack of empathy, and an inability to work through conflicts maturely.
Just like any relationship, solid working relationships do not ‘just happen’. They take time, patience, transparency, and input from two parties that truly want to work effectively together.
So what is the secret to a happy, long-lasting professional relationship?
Five considerations to succeed in a cloud-strategy relationship
1. Decide on an end goal together
As with any journey, it is key to have a clear destination in mind before embarking and discuss this as a team. Establish a clear strategy and identify the goals and outcomes you hope the chosen cloud will deliver.
Organizations require a clear vision that supports long-term goals, but as the last 12 months has demonstrated, being able to adapt to sudden change – both technological and market-orientated – must be accounted for too. When deciding on outsourced cloud solutions, select a vendor whose processes, procedures, and abilities best fit your planned journey, with the flexibility to alter course if priorities suddenly or drastically shift in a new direction.
2. Share everything with each other
It is important to discuss the entire asset inventory. Mature IT estates may include a variety of platforms such as colocation, clouds, and mainframe, and a careful analysis of each application is required if performance and functionality are to be maintained.
When it comes to migration, in some instances it will be straightforward. In other cases, the application can be refactored to allow for the new environment. Businesses must evaluate whether the best option is to keep the application ‘as is’ with a third party, and either continue to run it internally, or look for a hosting vendor that can support it in its current state along with cloud offerings for a seamless, integrated solution.
3. Appreciate similarities and differences
Most large organizations use several clouds but may not know how to best use each one individually. In defining a cloud strategy, it is critical to understand differences in operation, management, scale, security, and governance for each. Business goals should drive cloud choice, not the other way around.
4. Be available and resilient
Availability and resiliency are key for every relationship and every business.
One strategy might include using the cloud for data vaulting, replication, and disaster recovery. In such cases, businesses must take a hard look at their recovery cloud vendor with their third party for details such as which applications are business-critical, demanding the high availability that comes from an active environment, and therefore not appropriate for cloud-based recovery.
5. Establish a long-term plan
Only by both parties understanding the complete business picture can a solid cloud strategy be developed. This includes not only new and innovative technology elements, but also the current IT environment, and future-proofing IT where possible.
For senior decision-makers, it is key to choose the right partner and technology that can support them now and, in the years, to come. organizations that do so will be able to better understand and leverage disparate elements into a single cohesive picture, knowing with confidence, that the cloud has a place in improving competitive advantage and assuring future success.
A long-lasting relationship
Every business was forced to pivot during the pandemic, but the expansion of cloud services is one change that will remain long-term. It’s clear that there is more understanding at the top of organizations about the importance of technology investment decisions, and how building a good relationship with technology partners can help overcome challenges.
By working in tandem with knowledgeable third-party cloud partners to adopt a cloud-ready approach, that identifies possible problems before they occur and prevents a shift back to on-premises data storage when it goes wrong, organizations will be better placed to reap the benefits the cloud can offer in 2022, and well beyond.
Chris Huggett, Senior Vice President for EMEA & India, Sungard AS