With the Power of the Cloud Comes Great Responsibility

imageThere are a lot of cloud applications that people are bringing into the enterprise. While many problems are being addressed, this works best when this occurs with IT’s knowledge. My general opinion is that if IT doesn’t have the resources to implement a new technology in a timely fashion, then they should at work with the end-users to make sure a system is picked that will best fit with the future enterprise architecture.

Of course, there will always be people that will choose to adopt other applications without working with or informing IT. The newest cloud applications driving the Consumerization of IT (CoIT) trend make this very easy.

Of course, as they say in the comics, With great power comes great responsibility.

Beyond Spiderman

While Stan Lee used the concept to drive the morality of a super hero, this is a concept I first learned back in school. With every right is an equal a responsibility.

  • You have the right to vote. You have the responsibility to learn about the issues to make an informed decision.
  • You have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers. You have the responsibility to serve on a jury when called upon to serve.
  • You have the right to drive a car. You have the responsibility to do it in a safe and lawful manner so as to not endanger anyone or anything.

The same thing applies to CoIT. In many organizations users now have the right to use these new cloud applications on their own initiative. The question is, will those users take the responsibility to support those applications themselves?

Death by a Thousand Cuts

imageMost of these applications don’t require much support at all. That is part of the beauty of the new breed of cloud applications. The issue is when something goes wrong. Consider these questions that IT regularly considers with all applications.

  • What if a piece of information is lost or deleted? Is there a restore?
  • What are the options when there is no Internet connection?
  • How secure is it?
  • How do I get my information out if needed?

Simple requests for support can add up quick. If it is a solution not even run by IT, the level of support may be non-existent, and rightfully so.

Five minutes isn’t a lot of time. When 100 people have 1 five minute question a week, that is more than a full day of work, typically spread out in a way that severely impacts productivity. Consider that it usually takes at least 5 minutes for the problem to be fully understood before a solution can be sought.

In Practice

When I started at AIIM, someone asked me if I could support a requirement. I looked at my list of projects, took stock of my resources, and after considering the organizational priorities, decided that we couldn’t support the need internally.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story. The user found a cloud service that could offer what was needed at a low cost. It wasn’t ideal and it isn’t integrated with other systems, but it meets 80% of the requirements at 5% of the effort.

As the system was rolled out, IT supported it because they had been involved from the start. While this was a CoIT project run by the user, the IT involvement gave it “supported” status.

Most importantly, IT could provided the needed support because it was part of the effort from the planning stage.

That is really what we need in IT, a willingness to work with users to find the right external answer when an internal one isn’t possible.

imageOn the flip side, the business needs to respect IT and involve them throughout the process. It is possible that the business user is trying to solve a problem another group has already encountered. Why solve the same problem in two different ways? If a large portion of the business settles on a certain CoIT system, then IT can consider making it a standard software package and purchase an organizational license which may cost less and offer more features.

Go Forth and Prosper

My point is this, try and work with your IT department. They should be willing to work with you as their purpose is to solve business problems. If you do choose to exercise your right/ability to go it alone, then be willing to take responsibility to support the system.

Or am I being irrational?