Fear of Change Impedes Cloud Adoption for Many Companies

A new study concludes that internal attitudes have to change for cloud projects to succeed. Here are some tips for how to encourage that inside your company.

By Todd R. Weiss
Thu, August 04, 2011

CIO — It's not budgets, technology issues or strategic worries that are creating roadblocks for cloud projects in many enterprises. Instead, deep-seated fears of change and requirements for more cloud education are keeping many enterprises from moving forward.

That's the conclusion of a new cloud computing study from TheInfoPro, a division of The 451 Group, which found that 52 percent of 109 medium to large enterprise respondents believed that changes are needed in these attitudes for their cloud plans to achieve real success.

"That has been a key roadblock for an awfully long time for a lot of initiatives," says Sean Hackett, an analyst for TheInfoPro and the author of the study. "It's where ERP was 10 years ago. It's always been a core inhibitor of IT projects. Changing the ways that people do things all day is not easy to do."

Fear of change tends to be underestimated when companies decide to mix things up and take new approaches to tried-and-true ways of doing things, he says. "It's not just changing what people do all day in terms of how they use software, like moving to SaaS, but it's also about infrastructure and about application developers and how they think about developing an application."

To change these mindsets, companies have to take the initiative to prepare their IT workers and users for the cloud developments to come, Hackett says. "They have to be trained in what's possible."

That means companies looking to move to the cloud need to work hard to engage their IT staff members to help them learn what they need to know and to believe in the process as the strategy is being mapped out.

"They need to plan better and get management buy-in and user buy- in," Hackett says. "There is a lot of push back on these projects because not enough preparation is being done."

When the respondents were asked what advice they have for other companies as they pursue cloud strategies, some 40 percent suggested that enterprises do more planning than they anticipate, according to the survey.

What it often boils down to is that jumping into a cloud project just isn't as simple as IT leaders expect it to be, Hackett says. "They need to rethink the integration complexity and figure out how to best integrate everything. They're just challenges, but they are challenges that a lot of CIOs were not originally thinking about when they thought about the cloud."

One example, he says, is that companies can make initial cloud decisions without looking at how other IT processes would be affected later, such as selecting SaaS options without thinking it all through. That can create problems, he says.

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