Don’t get me wrong! I’m all for Cloud Computing and how it’s transforming the way companies use technology to streamline their business and support operations. I fully support the ‘cloud’ and why it should be exploited by companies to help reduce their technology costs. Yet what is missing from this whole equation in South East Asia (Thailand specifically) is a methodology that reviews local business practices and correlate that with an offering that meets customer expectations.
The lack or prevalence of multiple non-standard processes in Thai companies (and perhaps other South East Asian countries) makes it almost impossible to arrive at a central cloud-based standard solution that fits expected user requirements. In addition, the proliferation of multiple solution offerings through products like Google Apps or Amazon Web Services makes it even more difficult for companies to match offerings with business challenges at hand. Given the differing business structures in South East Asia countries and with various companies following different processes that are custom to their particular requirements, it seems unlikely that Cloud Computing can turn around strategies in technology.
It’s more likely that SMEs benefit from services like Salesforce.com and Google Apps then for conglomerates to transform legacy applications given the cost of the transition. These are some of the challenges I can think of:
‘Islands’ of Disparate Systems
The ‘islands’ of information currently prevalent in many traditional companies with ‘different departments’ makes it almost impossible to transition to a centralized standard cloud system. If departments/subsidiaries operate and utilize IT systems and processes that are different within a central organization, then how would they unify such standards and transition to a cloud-based system? The challenge here is the instigation of a standard process and not the tools used to make such processes possible.
Users are resistant to change. Unless they are technology enthusiasts, many users prefer to stick to the ‘old ways’ of doing things. The application of new technologies that require users to ‘change’ their traditional routine bares significant challenges. And these challenges are more pronounced when users learn they have ‘no control’ over where the data resides. Tell an accountant that their general ledgers and profit and loss statements are processed on a virtual server somewhere outside their department and you’ll know what I mean.
Standard Packages Not as Flexible
If you choose to use Google Calendar as a standard solution at your company, you would still have to subscribe to the Google Apps suite before you can do so. This is a show stopper for some companies that prefer to continue using their legacy applications while utilizing only a ‘portion’ of what they figure is lacking on their systems.
The proliferation and rapid upgrades involved in cloud-based products makes it more difficult to train users on utilizing newer features. Sometimes the main user interface changes significantly and other times users are required to use a new product/service altogether. This is given cloud-based products evolve while customers are using them. And not all customers are technology enthusiasts and not everyone is passionate about learning new things.
Google, Amazon, and all the major ‘cloud’ players today should focus on better packaging their solutions so they are easily ‘adopted’ in Thai companies (or others in this region). The demand is large and the offerings are even larger but the ‘bridge’ that connects those two has not yet been built.