When FUD—Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt—Cloud Your View
Created by CPP
There’s enough FUD in your life as it is, just running your business in an uncertain economy. Then along comes The Cloud with all its inherent advantages and intrinsic disadvantages. Your FUD factor just worsened.
After all, you are an expert in retail/marketing/construction/medicine/law or whatever. Now you have to be an expert in Big Data, and Cloud Computing—whatever the heck that is!—too? It boggles the mind.
Then you have to consider the regulations your business must meet. If your business must show regulation compliance (think HIPAA, FISMA, PCI or any other alphabet-soupcon of governmentese) is The Cloud even do-able for your company given those regulatory strictures? Would you jeopardize core contracts?
Where do you turn? Your usual go-to-guys aren’t cutting it.
Vendors you’ve asked have given conflicting answers and have added to your anxiety with their “if you don’t migrate to the Cloud now, your business will be dead in 6 months anyway” scare tactic answers. Like you needed more FUD in your life, right?
Worst yet, your brain trust of advisors each have a dog in this fight, so their previously sage advice is suspect or self-serving.
Your options and choices are overwhelming, and there is no obviously “right” solution. Compounding your anxiety, you know in your gut that time is not on your side. You need to make a decision—the “right” decision—quickly. The longer you wait, the more irrelevant you become.
To combat the deer-in-the-headlight panic of FUD, you need to think deeply about your business…what it needs to grow and thrive…and how The Cloud can potentially assist in that growth.
Still too much of a challenge?
OK. Deep breath. Consider these questions which should help you pinpoint what you need to do first:
1. What are your business drivers?
2. What is your operations model?
3. Where in the marketplace can you best position yourself?
4. What products/services/systems do you need to accomplish #1-#3 in the best way possible?
Got a bit better grasp of the FUD-induced anxiety? Good. You’ve now thought yourself to the point where you can call in professionals to help guide you into The Cloud.
Start incrementally, taking baby steps. You know what you want/need to succeed. Your vendor(s) will help you get there. But rather than jumping in without a life ring, take it slow. Select one or two small but important projects for starters. Your vendors will help you walk through the preparation, the training, and the transitional stuff. Once your staff is familiar with the new way of doing things, and everyone is happy with the results, you can move on to more challenging tasks.
Your FUD won’t go away overnight, but you’ll develop skills and confidence in the process and in your staff as you go. In time, the FUD will clear--probably about the time your bottom line shows you how much you’re saving by implementing those small but important projects.
In the full light of day and with the wisdom of hindsight, you’ll look like a genius.
Don’t tell your staff otherwise.
When FUD—Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt—Cloud Your View - Part 2
Created by CPP
So you’ve started to think that you should migrate some of your company business to The Cloud. In itself, that is a big change for your company, and a big leap of faith for you.
You’ve agonized over what you should do first, how much to do initially, but you reached a well thought-out decision. Congratulations. You’re probably feeling pretty satisfied with your decision, and you’re ready to…
“But wait!” one exceptionally annoying part of your brain interrupts your train of thought. “Won’t getting onto The Cloud be cost prohibitive?”
Solving this issue—and putting your fevered brain to rest (finally!)—comes down to exercising corporate discipline. Confirm that IT and Accounting agree that implementation would cost this much but generate that much (in sales, efficiencies, overhead reduction, etc). These two critical departments need to be in agreement from the get-go…and the implementation needs to be transparent. If several developers turn on multiple servers invisible to management except when an invoice shows up, then trouble is brewing.
“OK.” It’s that nagging brain again. “But what if I don’t want all the employees to use the cloud. At least at first. I’m not really sure I want outside sales on it—ever!”
We all know that outside salespeople can be quirky, but ostracizing them can be expensive. It can cost you the #1 benefit of The Cloud: agility. Instead, welcome them into the fold by giving them the training and the tools they need to access, use, and manage your new system.
Better yet, consolidate all your cloud accounts in one centralized place. Take advantage of higher volume: spend more, and your cost per line item drops. Furthermore, you can track your operations more easily. Accounting will love you on so many levels.
“Hmmm. I see. But what about ROI?” It’s that overactive, overwrought brain again. “How do I know The Cloud is living up to its promise?”
Some of what The Cloud can provide is pretty obvious, even to a lamebrain: Time savings, reduced infrastructure costs, reduced utility bills, lowered equipment and software replacement fees, smaller payroll, and tighter financial control. Those things are financially quantifiable and become pretty obvious pretty soon.
It’s the “other stuff,” the squishy stuff like reduced equipment downtime, faster computational turnaround, the quality of service, and that thing called “scalability” that are difficult to define. Maybe if your geniuses in IT can break down your expenses by cost-per-unit, you can get a handle on these other more-difficult-to-quantify costs.
“But we’ve always done this work in-house. Aren’t we giving up control by going onto The Cloud?” your brain whimpers.
Doing things in-house has indeed brought you this far. But your in-house team has reached the pinnacle of its success, its Peter Principle. You know you’ve got to change the way you do business to get to that elusive “next level.”
Yes, some companies can handle heavy automation in-house, but for most, building applications is easier than building infrastructure…and requires less expensive people.
“I’m just not sure. What about keeping some of our work in-house? At least for a while? Am I being a control freak?” your brain bargains.
No, you’re simply expressing caution. And that’s not bad. Most companies retain a significant amount of IT work in-house as they segue to The Cloud. It’s called cloud hybridization. It allows you to make the changes incrementally, in your own time, on your own budget, at your own comfort level.
And that incremental approach is a good thing.
Plan your transition step-by-step. Consider what your company needs to do first to make your operations and applications more efficient. Consider your code and your coders, your systems and those who use those systems. Transition the operations sequentially, starting with easy, low-hanging fruit. Over time bring on more challenging projects until you have choreographed the entire transition seamlessly.
You can even use upgrade cycles to bring more services to cloud-compatible architectures, even if you continue to perform those operations in-house. As evidence builds for the benefits of The Cloud, you can increase the speed of transition. Benefits are usually obvious within 3 to 6 months.
“What about our data? Is it secure?”
It might be. But it could go pffft! when you control it, too; you don’t have minute-to-minute back-up, after all. Most cloud data centers back up on a contract-and-cost-dependent schedule, either nightly, weekly or monthly. Transaction logs to track what happened each day are another safety feature that protects your data. However, since not everyone qualifies for a transaction log, you need to have an adequate back-up system. Just in case.
Most data centers have lots of firewalls and heavy duty security. I know what you’ll say next “And so do we!” OK, but who is likely to be better at security? Johnnie in IT or a huge company whose livelihood depends on it? I’d put my money on the Big Guys.
Even so, internal firewalls protect your precious data. The Cloud does not obviate the need to remain wary and protect corporate information kept in-house. Word.
“Bill in IT is worried about his job. He’s not sure he can figure out The Cloud. He helped us build the company, and I’d hate to lose him. Corporate memory, you know!”
Indeed. Bill is invaluable. But if location, location, location is what makes real estate successful, in The Cloud it is training, training, training.
Yes, there is a learning curve, and implementing The Cloud can be very complicated. That’s why training is so important. Bill is smart. He’ll figure it out. So will just about everyone else. You’ll see.
“Ok. I get it now. We can take it incrementally and see what happens. Why didn’t you say that the first time?”
You know, you can be so annoying.
Whither Goest Personal Communications?
Created by CPP
It used to be so simple. If someone wanted to contact another person, guy #1yelled and gesticulated in guy #2’s general direction. It worked, but only over short distances. More often than not, the saber tooth tiger sneaking up on guy #2 dined well that day, despite guy #1’s best intentions.
So people turned to the written word. Letters took longer to deliver, but the sabre tooth tigers had long vanished from the landscape. Even so, letters were not the perfect solution either. Recipients would complain about bad handwriting, ink blobs obliterating critical phrases, and misspelled words all of which led to unfortunate miscommunications.
But one man’s confusion was another man’s cash cow. Hence, sensing opportunity (and profit) Samuel Johnson developed the first dictionary in 1755 to institutionalize “correct” spellings and eliminate puzzling local colloquialisms. The blobby ink problem was outside his interest or control.
100 years ago, if the communication was time-critical, one picked up the phone and called the news in. Yes, phones eliminated the misspellings, but became demanding intrusions. The ever-industrious inventors saw another opportunity and developed clever devices like answering machines and voice mail to hide behind, thus avoiding unwanted callers.
After people had been dodging phone calls for 100 years, email emerged, changing the equation yet again. Without a “message block” in place, the message would get through to the intended recipient. It was a major victory for the communication initiator. Email was lightning fast, but those pesky misspellings started to cause trouble again. Communicators who habitually misspelled words got axed. And then it was the “Reply” vs “Reply All” dilemma which has embarrassed many a person too fast with the “send” button. Worse yet, psychologists have written that 90% of emails are misunderstood (back to using colloquialisms poorly, spelling poorly, not editing carefully, etc). And now young people tend to text, they don’t email, leading to a communications generational divide. There had to be a better way.
Once again the ingenious inventors came up with even more means of communication, among them FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, texting, Vine, YouTube, and Pinterest. Like their email ancestor, these new messengers sped around the world at the speed of electrons. Some of the technologies like YouTube, Vine and Pinterest specialized in videos or photographs. FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn, texting, and Twitter specialized in the written word.
Like the pre-dictionary writers, new technology writers devised symbols and codes to express themselves. Unfortunately for those not “in the know” (aka people over the age of 20), those symbols and codes evolved almost as quickly as the technology itself. The media themselves have added to the confusion for grammar rule-abiding English major fuddy duddies. For instance, by limiting the number of characters allowable, Twitter forces users to turn to abbreviations and emoticons to help convey more information than the short communication space allows.
For instance, signing a missive with YOLO or “You only live once” announces that the writer is about to do something supremely stupid/risky/foolish, and it’s too late for wiser heads to intervene. Like posting a drunken Freshman picture on a FaceBook page for future employers to see ad infinitum. Kiss that promotion goodbye.
Emoticons allow senders to flay the recipient, then deny the intent of the message with an “I’m just kidding!” smiley face. Yeah, sure. I might just believe you if I were 12, too.
Texting allowed agile-fingered teens to share conversations—not just communications—via SmartPhones. The rapid fire back and forth conversations are perfect for today’s frenetic pace, albeit often lacking in the message nuance category. Texting spread upwards to include adults and downwards to kidlets barely out of diapers. Today, texting—filled with symbols mysterious to all but the cognoscenti—has become the lingua franca of the land…until the next best thing comes along.
But then communicators splintered into camps, favoring one technology over another.
FaceBook, one of the oldest of the new technologies, appears to be passé with the hip young crowd who only apparently use it to stay in communication with their well-meaning if slightly doddering (but still doting and check-writing) Grandparents. FaceBook conversations are intended for a small audience of friends…and the friends of the friends. Even so, “Walls” notwithstanding, FaceBook is still relatively private in the great cosmic universe of communications.
LinkedIn seems to have become the medium of preference for professionals who use it to search for the next job, brag about their latest promotion/acquisition/award, or solidify their expert status by joining professional interest groups. Ever competitive, Linkers often believe that those with the largest network “win.” Hence quantity trumps quality. Yet again. As with FaceBook, users have to be part of the invited in-crowd to gain access to conversations, but the bar to entry is low…if your Rolodex (remember the Rolodex?) is big enough.
Twitter has become the “Go To” tool of the moment. By restricting word count to just 140 characters (some genius determined that was the length of most emails) it demands crisp language and a focused presentation. Verbosity is verboten. Twitter is the Haiku of electronic communications. It is also wildly successful at spreading the word about something quickly, aka “going viral,” because Twitter users can send their tweets to people organized by interest, not by invitation.
As of this writing, the primary surviving word-based technologies appear to be FaceBook, LinkedIn, texting, and Twitter. It might be different tomorrow morning. TBD. If the past is any indicator of the future, we can be pretty sure something else is coming down the pike really fast. The young will find it first and use it the fastest, obsoleting the rest of us in this dog-eat-dog world of communications Darwinism.
So why should we care?
Because we have businesses to run…products and services to market…and we need to get the right words out to the right people economically. Some of the new technologies are simply better at performing certain tasks. Not all new things are created equal.
Because as savvy marketers, we rely on (or should rely on) supporting analytics that tell us what we are doing right—or wrong, and how we can improve our performance. Some of the new technologies are better than others with the analytics.
Because in today’s frantic 24/7 world, time is truly money. Choosing the right message and the right messenger can make or break us. Knowing which to use—and how—is vital.
Because people still listen to people—especially their friends. That’s why the FaceBook “like” is so powerful for marketers…because someone you know, someone whose input you value, “likes” something. That “like” becomes a seal of approval. It makes your decision to “like” the item easier. It’s simplistic reasoning, but it’s powerful marketing.
Texting moves people, too, but one at a time. On a large scale, SMS Texting means personalization possibilities that elude some of the other new technologies—a boon to companies that want to announce specific sales to specific individuals.
Tweets are powerful because they can reach millions of people who share a common interest in just a few minutes. The collective synergy can move mountains—just look at the protestors in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. They got eye witness accounts out realtime, and engaged the world in their struggle. Witnesses spoke truth to power—and to their millions of Twitter followers. A government toppled.
So what’s all this mean to a company afraid to start its migration to The Cloud?
If you are laboring under the misinformed belief that you’re not already invested in The Cloud, consider this: every time you send or receive a message using ANY of these technologies…every time you look at a kitten tap dancing on a piano or fail to stick his landing on a slippery table, you are in The Cloud.
So, yes, you’ve started your transition to The Cloud.
If a million cute kittens can do it, so can you.
In our next blog we will consider the pros and cons of these various technologies. And how they work within—and without—the cloud.