Having problems convincing your organization to consider cloud solutions? Is “cloud” even a bad word, since it's so tied to vendor hype these days?

There are competitive advantages in using cloud services that every insurance company should at least explore. I recently heard from Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch, who says that moving to cloud often requires a change in mindset for many business users.  But the way to warm them up to cloud proposals is to gradually demonstrate how cloud can boost their productivity and business opportunities.

Fulkerson says the best on-ramp to the cloud is to encourage use of new Web and social networking tools that are freely available.

“Get your employees using enterprise collaboration, a Web-based method for connecting quickly and efficiently for the purpose of sharing information, ideas, documents and more,” he says. The impact of being able to leverage Web-based information and services to do their jobs better will be infectious, Fulkerson says. “As your non-programmer employees find new ways to solve business problems using cloud-based systems, they will become fans of the cloud, and your foray into cloud computing will be an easier sell across the board.”

As end users “see the power of immediate exchange and access to ideas, you can tip them off,” he adds. “Tell them: 'You’ve been using cloud computing.' The scalability, reliability and cost benefits will follow. Plus you’ll have a team of non-programmers that rival today’s internal tech groups, and the business results will be the proof that your venture into the cloud was well worth it.”

The beauty of the cloud and social networking is many powerful collaborative and analytical tools once reserved for major enterprises are now available to anyone who needs them. And they're quick to implement. “You can be in go-mode in less than a week,” Fulkerson says. “These cloud-based systems enable Intranets, extranets and even more complicated capabilities like powerful dashboards to customer relationship management tools.”

Ultimately, Fulkerson points out, the risk of ignoring cloud may outweigh any perceived risks with security and reliability. “Without cloud, companies risk obsolescence as their competitors win on cost and efficiency,” he says.

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