Cloud collaboration tools: The critical ingredient driving the success of new hybrid working models

Jun 06, 2022
Cloud Computing
Credit: Getty

As organisations pivot to hybrid working models, cloud collaboration tools have proved they are scalable, secure, and resilient – finally dispelling any lingering concerns that the technology is not yet enterprise ready. In fact, one of the key messages from the recent CIO Cloud Transformation Summit was that this technology has dramatically transformed the business of work and its upward trajectory is set to continue.

Panellists at the CIO summit discussed how cloud has liberated remote workers from isolated, linear working practices, delivering full collaboration within productive, cloud-enabled hybrid teams.

“Before cloud collaboration, teams would work in a very singular manner, creating, editing and sharing documents in isolation,” said summit panellist Martin Russell, Director of Customer Success at Google Cloud Partner Netpremacy. “Now however, we use solutions such as real-time chat instead of email and team members collaborate on a centrally stored document in real time. It’s a significant jump.”

The office is not obsolete yet, however. Michelle Kearns, Head of IT at Boots Ireland, made the point that many employees still prefer working all or some of their time in a shared space, where they can collaborate face-to-face. The panellists agreed that the office needs to be reimagined to ensure it delivers real value.

Remote working, powered by cloud collaboration tools such as Google Workspace, is also helping to address a global skills shortage, by extending the available pool of talent beyond conventional geographic limitations. John Bamber, Chief Engineer at property company Places for People, told the panel: “Geography is no longer a recruitment factor for my company, and I know quite a few other organisations that are in the same position.” Russell agreed, saying: “We’ve had our eyes opened at Netpremacy to the ability to tap into wider talent pools and we now hire employees from anywhere.”

Organisations also need to address an IT-specific skills shortage. Employee retention, which requires inspiring, engaging and transitioning IT specialists from on-premises to cloud technology, is a significant part of the solution. Bamber says: “The key fundamentals of most IT roles are massively transferable. If you hire great employees, they don’t stop being great if the role changes slightly. Training and education are key.”

Russell Harte, DFS’s Chief Operations Officer, who participated in a fireside chat, explained that the furniture retailer transitioned to cloud before the pandemic, and was able to create a data-driven “growth engine”. “We’ve brought together internal and external data sources to understand how we’re performing in store catchment areas from both an online and offline perspective along with external data sources. We used this to build powerful applications that drive efficiency and aid decision making.

Having proven cloud scalability, security, and resilience, the panel agreed that IT teams must now double down on cloud-related carbon emissions. Kearns argued that cloud data centres may be out of sight but should never be out of mind.

“Companies need more systems capability, more functionality and more data storage. The smart choice may be the cloud, but it must be done in a sustainable way. Cloud data centres should use efficient and sustainable energy sources and they should be built in the right places. We have to get that conversation going.”

Organisations have achieved so much during the pandemic. Russell makes the point that they must now resist the urge to revert to tried-and-tested pre-pandemic working models. Instead, organisations should:

  • Review and redesign internal process workflows to maximise the effectiveness of cloud collaboration tools.
  • Re-evaluate the role of the office and ensure employee experience is seamless.
  • Leverage remote working to increase the pool of available talent.
  • Focus on employee retraining and retention to overcome the IT-sector talent gap.
  • Double down on third-party data centre sustainability. Work with cloud hyperscalers to introduce ‘green’ SLAs.

Following these steps will enable organisations to continue the upward trajectory achieved during the pandemic, increasing levels of collaboration, productivity and innovation.

About Netpremacy

Netpremacy helps global companies transform and energise their business to gain a competitive edge with Google products. As well as being trusted by trailblazers like Monzo, Just Eat and Morrisons, they’re a double award-winning Google Cloud Premier Partner. They deliver next-level customer care and build true partnerships with clients to add value to their organisations. Learn more