The culture around cloud: why it matters and how it’s holding you back

Written by 8x8, a leader in global cloud communications on 10 August 2016 in Sponsored Article
Sponsored Article

8x8 makes the case for putting culture at the centre of the discussion around cloud

“Cloud” can be vague. Nobody is quite sure how the word came to describe today’s shared networks, despite some appealing theories. We also speak in binary terms about cloud adoption, ignoring the many councils who have adopted some cloud services, but who have yet to see the full benefits that cloud-based working can provide.  

Furthermore, there’s a tendency to speak about the hurdles to cloud migration in exclusively quantitative terms, as if every obstacle derives from limited resources.  Arguments such as “the technology isn’t readily available”, “the budget is tight”, or perhaps “there isn’t enough expertise” are commonplace and no doubt proliferate the majority of buying conversations. While all these pose real challenges, their emphasis tends to gloss over what for many is the most crucial setback: culture. 

Culture ought to be fundamental in our assessments of the digital landscape and the challenges that lie ahead. After all, transformation is impossible without a culture that’s willing to adapt. We should therefore include norms and behaviours alongside technology and skills as necessary conditions for digital transformation. 

So what is the most significant cultural roadblock to cloud migration? 

Resistance to change

A recent survey of the UK's 100 biggest councils produced a shocking finding: nearly half (44%) of these councils don’t have a cloud strategy, and only 15% of that 44% are considering one. 

What’s keeping a near-majority of councils from cloud adoption? Lack of knowledge and poor understanding of risks are often mentioned. But a more salient factor that’s commonly cited is a cultural resistant to change. 

By resistance we mean anything ranging from reluctance, to outright opposition – two extremes that can be equally responsible for low adoption levels. To overcome such resistance, councils need to recruit the support of every stakeholder involved. They need total buy-in. 

Achieving total buy-in 

Since forward-thinking IT departments rarely need winning over, the first step to conquering cultural intransigence and paving a clear path to the cloud is to get inter-departmental support. 8x8 achieved this with Aylesbury Vale District Council by stressing how the cloud benefits the customer (of which Aylesbury Vale has over 180,000) and reduces costs. By emphasising the cost-effectiveness of cloud adoption, 8x8 were able to pre-empt anxieties around the transition. This is especially significant in times of austerity, since organisational change is too easily associated with cuts. 

The case for cost-effectiveness was backed up by results. Aylesbury Vale’s use of 8x8’s software has led to savings of more than £20,000 annually, with total savings estimates of £116,000 over five years.

A strong business case that quantified the less tangible benefits of moving to cloud was key to obtaining broad senior management support. But it was a focus on specific departmental improvements that helped fully win the argument at an operational level.  This is a textbook example of achieving total buy-in, which is essential to overcoming a reluctant culture.  

Creating an appetite for modern working

Another way to overcome resistance to change is to create an appetite for modern flexible working practices. Staff can be (reasonably) reluctant to fully embrace moving to the cloud because they fear it will radically interfere with their daily routine. It’s therefore important to stress the benefits, which include features like flexible hours and remote working. 

It’s also important to emphasise that these benefits don’t have to come at the expense of uninterrupted service delivery. 8x8’s service is seamless, meaning customers can’t tell when remote employees are out of the office. This was critical to McLarens, a leading global claims services provider with over 300 offices and affiliates in more than 80 countries, because it places high priority on delivering excellent customer service. With the help of 8x8, McLarens was able to consolidate their communications, reduce costs by 50%, and, most importantly, enhance customer service delivery.    

Paradoxically, making a strong case for the customer experience can be the best argument for the employee. When customer interaction is central to an employee’s role – which is often the case for local councils – then an improvement for the customer is tantamount to an improvement for the employee. An appetite for modern working is therefore bolstered not only by listing its perks, but also by demonstrating its value to the customer. It’s about more than just making people’s jobs easier and more alluring – it’s about making people better at their jobs.

Making the case

Forging a culture that’s right for the cloud boils down to communication. Achieving total buy-in and creating an appetite for change can only come from honesty, openness, and sound reasoning. This means treating staff as collaborators to – and not recipients of – change, and seeking input every step of the way. It also means making a positive and resonant case for the cloud. 
Skills, technology, and capital are essential to a successful cloud migration, but we can’t discount culture. 

Without a cloud-conducive culture, local councils will be held back. 

Come along and see us on Stand 28 at SOCITM Annual 2016, 17th and 18th October. For further information on 8x8 please contact 020 7096 6000;

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