I've been writing a lot lately about whether cloud services are resonating with enterprises, and generally finding they are -- sort of -- but that the sales cycle is proving longer than expected, and enterprise executives are proving to be greater skeptics than anticipated. (See Enterprises Not Rushing to Embrace Cloud and Verizon Relocates Cloud Optimism.)
A new whitepaper from IDC and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) touches on one area of cloud adoption that seems to make enormous sense, and that's collaboration. As the paper, "Why the Cloud for Collaboration?" points out, this is a use of cloud that enterprises can readily understand and from which they can quickly benefit, in large part because the cloud can simplify the process of connecting the many different ways of communicating that employees use today.
Many enterprises would like to embrace Unified Communications and Collaboration but doing so is difficult because they have multiple sites, multiple types of communication at work (voice, messaging, email), and equipment from multiple vendors that isn't interoperable.
"They may have two to three PBX vendors, two to three different desktop chat or IM programs being used, and multiple types of video," says Eric Schoch, Cisco's vice president of collaboration. "They can't roll out new services fast enough or even keep up with the current services they have deployed."
This multi-vendor, multi-technology environment has grown up because many of the decisions around employee communication and collaboration were locally or regionally based or were made by companies before they were acquired. So virtually any company of significant size has this mix of vendors.
Those same businesses want to leverage what they have and either spend less or avoid spending more, Schoch says, but they also want to move up the technology curve to connect their employees more efficiently and make them more productive. So Cisco and IDC set out to prove how moving to cloud services lets companies create UC&C across distributed locations, letting employees talk and work together which -- assuming you've got the right employees -- achieves the productivity piece.
This is an example where cloud has benefits beyond those often stated -- reduced capex, flexibility, pay-as-you-go -- and where a technology transition is taking place anyway.
It is also an application that is easy to explain to almost anyone in an organization. Instead of having to make a big capex bet on the next new UC&C technology platform, enterprises can look to cloud services that can grow and shrink with their needs, evolve as needed, and unify the different communications modalities that we all take for granted today.
When employees are better able to communicate and collaborate, innovation happens faster, problems are solved more quickly, and the overall business benefits.
So there -- a cloud no-brainer.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading