Earth-bound, cloud-enabled: Powering the enterprise with cloud productivity tools
Introduction In the early 1980s, finance and accounting professionals changed the fabric of their work with a revolutionary new tool: the spreadsheet. Originally limited to the true geeks of their time, these early adopters were instrumental in proving that end-user computing tools could improve accuracy, expedite routine tasks and contribute actionable analysis to the enterprise. Today, spreadsheets, word processors, presentation tools and email are no longer the stuff of magic and wonder. Operating without modern productivity tools would be akin to using an abacus and papyrus. But “disruption” and revolution continue as licensing, deployment and management models evolve at breakneck speeds. Cloud-delivered productivity solutions with their steadily decreasing per-seat license costs have sparked a rush to move from stable, secure, familiar installed client software to SaaS models at a stunning rate. This paper examines some of the key issues technology leaders should consider as part of their overall SaaS strategy.
How big is this?
REALLY BIG. One recently released survey 1 reports that nearly half (48 percent) of enterprises are now using a cloud-based productivity suite, a massive jump from 2014 (28 percent).
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58B 20 13
20 16 In pure dollars and cents, VisionMobile2 estimated that businesses spent more than $28 billion in 2013; and that the market would grow to $58 billion by 2016. No surprise as worldwide stats estimate 48 percent of companies with 500 or more employees use a cloud application in at least part of their productivity toolkit.
Changes are afoot, and in a big way too
Microsoft Office 365 realized more than 285 percent growth in the “500+ employees” segment and over 500 percent in regulated companies with more than 1,000 employees.
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People-driven innovation Enterprises rely on the energy and expertise of their employees, and can be fueled by a motivated staff’s focus on improvement. The explosion of personal, mobile computing devices has injected personal preference, along with independent selection of technology platforms and applications. This is not lost on device and software manufacturers who clearly see that the path to IT policy may literally be in the pocket of the consumer. Trends and innovations in productivity are no longer driven by IT leadership in the enterprise, but rather by the employees and their favorite apps and devices. Influence, budget and purchasing decisions are coming from individual lines of business and the goals those teams are trying to meet — from staying competitive in the marketplace, to leveraging new technologies and the Internet of Things, to scaling to meet mobility demands and rapid growth. Since the early spreadsheet adopters, innovation in business computing has originated from the employee’s relentless pursuit of “working smarter, not harder.” Sometimes referred to as “Bring Your Own App,” this trend has been resisted by some IT managers, responding with lockdowns on access to corporate network resources. Their resistance is a common position, protecting budget, strategy ownership and headcount by resisting outsourcing, managed services and cloud-based technologies. For some, draconian policies are really only effective in one way: creating stagnation in the enterprise’s ability to exploit advances in technology to their own advantage.
Cloud productivity is mobile productivity Are workers with broad access to cloud productivity apps more productive? It doesn’t take extensive academic research to answer that question with a resounding YES, and there are a number of reasons why: • Effectively, the enterprise benefits from extending the workday. Aberdeen Group analyst Andrew Borg told CIO.com that BYOD workers are “more likely to have their device with them at all times, not only during work hours, which means they are more accessible and in-touch.”3 • With a round-the-clock workforce, a brand becomes more responsive to customers. Decisions and problem-solving processes are accelerated by workers who can respond to changing conditions in near-real-time. • This is especially true of workers with policy or operations-level management responsibility. Middle- and senior-level managers are able to extend their influence throughout their teams with a simple flick of their thumb, nearly anytime and almost anywhere.
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• Encouraging or facilitating BYOD/BYOA behaviors clearly takes advantage of the 24/7 nature of personal mobile computing. People sleep, eat, work, play with their mobile devices within arm’s reach — or actually in hand. Consider the Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report4: »» Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of survey respondents report sleeping with their smartphones. »» For many, it is not only their last interaction of the evening, but the first thing they reach for in the morning (35 percent) before their coffee (17 percent), toothbrush (13 percent) or significant other (10 percent).
• While the effective workday has become an elastic, elongated concept, mobile productivity applications have also enabled employees to work at their own pace, on their own schedule. From creating and editing presentations on their smartphone to crunching numbers on a tablet, cloud-based productivity apps have put the worker in a position to set aside the limitations of the 8-to-5 workday and focus on priorities as they evolve. • Progressive BYOD policies can be an important recruiting tool, allowing the employer to tap the rich talent pool of the millennial generation, who are orders of magnitude more connected via their smartphone or tablet device.
WHAT’S THE KEY TAKEAWAY IN ALL OF THIS? It’s time for IT leaders to shift their focus and investments from “supporting the apps and infrastructure” to “supporting the worker.” Getting ahead of this trend by facilitating flexibility in mobile productivity will not only create agility in the enterprise, but act as an important risk management strategy. Left to their own choice, employees will use their own devices, apps and resources. There is no evidence of benefit to any company who has tried to hinder the “Bring Your Own” trend.
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Power and problems in the personal cloud Today’s burgeoning topic is “Bring Your Own Cloud” (BYOC) — workers want to keep their important documents, reports and reference material close, literally in their pocket. Works in progress, like that career-defining presentation due in the next week, can be ported around, ready at a moment’s notice for the final edits. As happy as that individual worker might be editing their PowerPoint on the subway, the BYOC trend may also stymie effective team collaboration. Documents that are stored and edited in one employee’s personal cloud are unavailable to their coworkers for comment or editing. Revision cycles are uncontrollable and important reference data may be available to one employee but not to all. Interoperability with line-ofbusiness platforms and apps may be impossible, relegating one of the company’s largest investments to irrelevance.
YOU CAN SEE THAT THERE IS A SUBSTANTIAL TRADE-OFF ON THE RISK VS. CONVENIENCE SCALE Putting the enterprise’s intellectual property and corporate secrets in a free cloud storage app flies in the face of logic and common sense. For a brand subject to regulatory or compliance requirements, this becomes an especially crucial matter as audit trails are demolished. Comingling employee personal documents with corporate information creates risk beyond the protection of proprietary information: • Customer records, including personal identifying information and consumer financial records may be compromised. • Employee records may also be at risk of exposure to competitors, disgruntled former employees or even worse: to hostile influences outside of the enterprise.
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Free is not free Some IT leaders proudly boast that they have reduced investment in hardware and software through meeting demands for mobile access by encouraging the employee to choose whatever equipment and system is most convenient and comfortable to them. For several reasons, that’s a short-sighted point of view: • Compromise to security and compliance requirements may have catastrophic impacts on the business. • Continuously modifying the corporate infrastructure to enable the “next big app” can be a time-consuming endeavor as IT teams are distracted from their primary mission to keep up-to-date with the latest iteration in cloud productivity features. • Operating costs can escalate as support teams respond by creating a tangle of patches and work-around solutions to meet the BYOD demand. • Capital costs may rise as network traffic and resource consumption grows exponentially. • Ultimately, demand for mobility is the driving factor for employees emailing critical intellectual property to person email addresses, and using free online storage options.
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Set a strategy, execute wisely By all measures, “Bring Your Own… (Device, App or Cloud)” trends continue to expand. It is the smart technology leader who not only gets on board, but gets ahead of these dynamic forces in a way that meets the goals of the business while containing risk and expense. IT departments now stand to reposition their organization and add value to the enterprise by bringing new technologies like Office 365 into the business. Cloud productivity solutions can be more than contemporary replacements for workhorse word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. From storage/ collaboration features to presence and messaging, progressive organizations are moving beyond traditions of the “information worker” to true empowerment of teams with software and technology that really does drive productivity. Successful strategies include: • Develop and publish a plan that takes a positive view of the opportunities behind the “Bring Your Own…” groundswell. • Be frank with the workforce, and express an openness to incorporate personal preferences (devices and apps) in the milieu of the corporate technology plan. Good workers want their employers to succeed, and by offering visibility into the strategy, employees can become outspoken supporters. • Set guidelines to meet not only regulatory and compliance requirements, but also to contain cost impacts on the business. • Select stable, familiar technologies to drive adoption. “Bring Your Own” doesn’t mean you have to embrace every new fad that comes along — pick what’s tried and true. • Don’t go partway. Feature sets in cloud productivity solutions are extensive, reaching far beyond email and document storage. Make sure that you’re getting every benefit from your investment. • Conduct an effective, smooth migration. Nothing kills enthusiasm or compromises productivity faster than a failed “DIY” migration to a cloud platform that leaves users unable to do their jobs. • Stay current after the migration. Cloud productivity products evolve at breakneck speeds. Having expertise on hand or from a partner can help you contain risk, and maximize the company’s investment in most-current-version solutions.
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About Rackspace Rackspace® Managed Services for Office 365™ offers comprehensive advisory services and a dedicated account team to help you select, purchase, deploy, customize and manage your Office 365 licenses while minimizing the management burden on IT. Fanatical Support® for Office 365™ offers advanced support by phone, chat and email 24/7/365. A team of specialists can manage licensing for Business Essentials plans up to E3 plans. They handle front-line problem resolution and expedited escalation to Microsoft as needed. Rackspace is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, North America and Europe 2014. A hosting provider to 69 percent of the Fortune 100, Rackspace teams are recognized for their extensive Microsoft expertise: • Five-time Microsoft Hosting Partner of the Year • Microsoft Gold Certified Partner • Gold Partner Microsoft Cloud OS Network • More than 200 Microsoft certifications, including MCITPs, MCSAs, MCSEs and MCTSs
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Bitglass, “Cloud Adoption Report Episode II: Attack of the Clouds,” 2015.
VisionMobile, “Business and Productivity Apps,” March 2014.
Tom Kaneshige, “When BYOD Is a Productivity Killer,” CIO, August 24, 2013, http://www.cio.com/article/2392875/mobile/when-byod-is-a-productivity-killer.html.
Bank of America, “Trends in Consumer Mobility Report,” 2015, http://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/files/doc_library/additional/2015_BAC_Trends_in_Consumer_Mobility_Report.pdf.
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