How businesses have created a FrankenCloud monster

SUMMARY:

Rapid adoption of cloud applications has created a ‘FrankenCloud’ monster of disconnected silos in many businesses, says FinancialForce.com CEO Jeremy Roche

Jeremy Roche CEO FinancialForce.com 250px
Jeremy Roche, FinancialForce.com

Most companies today understand the value of moving to the cloud and are racing to deploy applications that are mobile, agile and improve both customer and employee experiences.  However, through this transition we’ve seen fundamental business strategies get ‘lost in the cloud,’ for lack of a better phrase, where companies end up patching together hordes of different cloud applications, not really stopping to consider if or how they all work together.

This has led to the creation of a monster, one that we’ll call FrankenCloud, and it’s becoming a massive problem that businesses need to address before it’s too late. When companies use disconnected databases with different user interfaces, security models and reporting tools, not only do they end up spending more time and money synchronizing data and creating joint processes across each application, but they end up missing out on key growth opportunities because so much effort is required to keep the lumbering FrankenCloud alive.

What’s most concerning about this is that we’ve seen it before. Companies used to cobble together on-premise systems with endless Excel spreadsheets and swivel chair integrations to hold everything together and at a certain point, they realized that approach was no longer sustainable for long-term growth.

Today, we’ve reached that same breaking point. We’re simply witnessing a new version of an old monster – a patchwork collection of disparate cloud applications and technologies that will, at the end of the day, hold your business back.

The birth of FrankenCloud

FrankenCloud image by FinancialForce.comNow, let’s take a look at where this all started. Early adopters of cloud applications were quick to realize that their legacy on-premise systems and excessive use of Excel could no longer meet modern business challenges. As a result, marketing, sales and even HR departments ran off and picked up solutions that would help them tackle issues specific to their own individual departments. While this led to many early successes, the effort required to manage multiple technology stacks became more tedious as each new cloud service was introduced.

Making matters worse, employees are now being asked to wrestle with multiple logins, different user interfaces and varied reporting tools. Workflows that span different departments require complex programming handoffs between systems, and employees have to rely on email for authorization requests, approvals and escalations, ultimately slowing business down instead of speeding it up. Additionally, executives can’t get a comprehensive understanding of performance across the entire business, making it even more difficult for them to drive substantial growth. In a frustrating turn of events, the monsters they faced in the past are merely resurfacing in the cloud.

The secret to evading a monster

On the upside, there have been some companies that have experienced tremendous success with their move to the cloud. They have gained new levels of dramatically improved business agility and rapid return on investment, while delivering a seamless user experience and holistic view of business performance to executive teams.

So, what was it they did differently? At a high level, they were more strategic in the process of choosing which applications to deploy, and took into consideration how each application would impact the entire business, from sales to finance to HR. More tactically speaking, they chose applications that were built to run natively on one platform, and used that same platform to build their own in-house developed applications.

In doing this, the old-school, departmental-driven approach has been replaced by an application architecture where their customers and employees are put at the heart of their business. Having one single cloud platform, database, login and user interface has proven capable of removing the complexity of managing and synchronizing disparate technology platforms. More importantly, it provides them with the technology backbone on which they can raise the bar for customer service, attract and retain the best employees, respond to rapidly changing market conditions and exploit new business opportunities as they arise.

Without having to deal with the wrath of FrankenCloud, they can also provide every employee with common reporting, dashboards, analytics and mobile access, seamlessly across every application, massively improving the speed of business.

A world without FrankenCloud

We are in a time of rapidly changing markets, empowered customers and connected workers, and because of this, it’s more important now than ever before that businesses build on a single platform that will support their overall growth. In doing this, they’ll finally experience the full extent of what the cloud was originally intended to offer, including agility, flexibility and return on investment that can be measured in weeks, not years.

One of the most important things that business leaders need to remember is that the cloud, in and of itself, is not the golden ticket. It’s the platform that is the foundation for success, and it must be consistent across every application, process and business function within an organization to give them the support they need to truly grow and thrive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

As we look forward to an even more exciting new era, filled with the Internet of Things and machine-to-machine connectivity, I can guarantee that you won’t want Dr. Frankenstein running the show.

Image credits: by FinancialForce.com.