Leveraging data agility and security in a hybrid cloud deployment
Many organizations have already embraced the idea of cloud technology in some aspect of their business. Cloud storage and cloud hosted applications, for example, have long been popular options.
Despite the numerous benefits of cloud solutions, however, a complete transition can seem risky and many organizations are reluctant to take the leap and implement a cloud-only strategy. This is especially true for many finance departments.
Finance departments are reluctant to move their existing financial processes to the cloud for many reasons, including:
- The sensitive nature of financial data makes many organizations fearful of moving it.
- The risk of being out of compliance, especially in countries with local residency requirements.
- Organizations cannot afford to stop the financial engine of the company.
- Difficult to find the time and the will to improve or alter core financial processes that “aren’t broken”
- Change management and staff preparedness can be one of the biggest barriers as it requires additional planning and training that many companies are simply too busy to handle.
Yet, if organizations look for cloud platforms that are tightly integrated with existing on-premise systems, it’s possible to take advantage of the benefits of cloud while maintaining the safety and security of certain applications on premise.
The benefits of being able to move to the cloud can be many. For example, cloud solutions:
- Are easy to deploy and administer.
- Are secure and available on various devices with very little set-up required.
- Provide increased agility and scalability.
- Help organizations unveil new capabilities that will transform the business and provide a competitive edge.
By choosing a hybrid cloud approach, organizations can achieve these benefits without sacrificing the robust functionality and integration available with on-premise systems. As they initiate the process, there are a few important points to consider:
Starting the Move to the Cloud
For the finance department to move to a hybrid cloud model, organizations must first determine what data and business processes are good candidates for the cloud and which ones should remain on premise. Start by introducing small innovations that are relatively self-contained such as reporting, workflow, and self-service functions.
Cloud-based reports are a good place for the finance department to begin introducing innovations. The advanced graphics available with modern cloud-based platforms make reports more attractive to users and they can be accessed from anywhere.
For best results, choose a new report for your first project before you attempt to move existing reports to the Cloud. This will provide users with exciting new content that they will be quick to adopt and it will enable users to grow accustomed to the new cloud-based reporting platform at their own pace.
Simple workflows, especially those that require interaction with external users are also good candidates for moving to the cloud. Look for workflows that would benefit from the flexibility and simpler user interface available with cloud-based applications.
Also, be sure to use a robust workflow engine that is compatible with your existing enterprise systems. For more complex workflows, build the basic workflow to prove it can work first, and then gradually enhance it over time by adding more cloud capabilities.
Vendor or Customer Self-Service
If your finance team spends a lot of time responding to vendor or customer inquiries, it is a good idea to put a self-service portal or another cloud-based status checking mechanism in place so you can free your resources for more value-added tasks. The individuals you do business with will appreciate how easy it is to get the information.
As users learn to trust the accuracy of the self-service information it will be easier to introduce more robust cloud-based self-service functions such as updating shipping or billing addresses, adding new users, and more. As with reporting and workflow, it is important to choose a solution that is compatible with your existing enterprise systems.
Whatever you choose for your first cloud-based solution, taking the first step can be the beginning of a broader adoption of a cloud approach for more mission-critical processes. Build out a process roadmap that takes advantage of your IT department’s technology roadmap to ensure that your cloud-based apps deliver immediate value to the organization and provide a smooth transition for both your users and your IT team.
Data Residency and Compliance
Even with a roadmap in place, it is likely that you will have to combat the fear of moving to hybrid cloud model because of the concerns around data residence.
Data residence is an issue in countries where there are local data residency laws (most of Europe) or where there is data that puts a company at a risk of violating laws of the country where the data resides. Ensure whatever solution you choose addresses the perceived loss of control and the reality that cloud systems can reside anywhere in the world.
With hybrid cloud adoption on the rise, it’s now a question of when — not if — the transition should begin. All data will likely be moved to the cloud eventually, but until then, the hybrid model brings organizations that much closer to future-proofing their business and putting innovation at the forefront.