The first step into the cloud

Last week, I had a conversation with a CIO of a mid-sized firm. The organization has been struggling with incorporating the cloud into their technology plans. Our conversation was centered around the cloud and, specifically, how to use the cloud to replace the aging solutions and platforms currently used by this organization.

For a few years, the CIO has been looking at the cloud as a way to cut costs and increase service delivery to the organization. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of their business, he has not made the move to the cloud in any meaningful way. The IT group has used cloud based products for focused platforms like project management and certain marketing technology projects, but for the most part, they have stayed away from the cloud.

Like many organizations today, the CIO started looking at a new new customer relationship management (CRM) platform. The CRM system that had been in use was built and maintained in-house and had been on its last legs for a few years. The CIO had been pushing for a while to move to a new CRM platform but a decision hadn’t been made to ‘build or buy’.

The CIO put out a request for proposals from CRM vendors. Proposals came in from all corners of the CRM market from fully on-site solutions to fully cloud based solutions as well as hybrid solutions. After a long selection process, the organization chose a cloud-based CRM solution.

The implementation of the CRM solution was quick and straightforward due to its purely cloud based approach. Within two months, the entire organization had been migrated to the new system and most users are extremely happy. The new system is stable and provides for much more efficient use when compared to the in-house system that had been in use.

This move to a cloud-based CRM system has accomplished a few things for the organization. The most important was the solution to the “needing a new CRM platform” problem. The second most important accomplishment was bringing this organization into the cloud. This ‘first step’ for the organization has opened up the eyes of the IT group to the possibility of other cloud-based solutions

My conversation with the CIO was based around how well the move to the CRM solution has gone as well as the efficiencies gained from moving to a SaaS CRM product. The CIO has begun to feel much better about the cloud as a platform although he still has still concerns over data protection and security. While these concerns are valid, they shouldn’t keep an organization from considering cloud-based solutions.

With the success of the CRM platform migration and the comfort that the organization is starting to feel with the move to the cloud, the CIO is now looking at their next few projects. While the CIO couldn’t share the details of the organization’s next projects, he did mention that the top priority projects all have some aspect that uses the cloud.

With proper planning, a good selection process and a bit of luck this midsized organization was able to take their first step into the cloud with the implementation of a CRM platform and they are planning additional cloud projects in the future. How has your organization taken the step into the cloud?

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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