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The next phase of cloud democratization

How is your cloud democratization effort going?

With this topic, it makes sense to ask the key question first, to start at the end in a sense, as this is ultimately the question this article aims for you to consider. Why?

A Harvard Business Review article from May-June 2022 puts it into clear terms:

“Digital transformation pays off,” share the authors, Marco Iansiti, the David Sarnoff Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.1

Specifically, they looked at what they term “tech intensity” – “the extent to which employees put technology to use to drive digital innovation and achieve business outcomes.” Their findings reported that the “compound annual growth rate (CAGR) among leaders (the top quartile) in tech intensity were more than double” those in the bottom quartile.1

“Greater intensity (especially investments in technical and organizational architecture) powered higher revenue growth.”1

What does democratizing the cloud mean?

Cloud democratization, or democratizing the cloud, puts powerful technology in the hands of employees. It involves the adoption of a mixture of cloud services or Infrastructure as a Service offerings. For employees, it increases access to the tools that drive digital innovation and revenue.

The next phase of the cloud – increased access and engagement

An interesting point made in the Harvard Business Review article concerned how the models built and deployed by data scientists to empower employees had limited success. It wasn’t until data scientists began collaborating with stakeholders that data and technology integrated into day-to-day operations began to realize success.

Our Director of Portfolio Architecture, Nicole Blohm, discussed how a “needs-based” approach brings new perspectives to application and the automation of processes.

Blending cloud services, however, doesn’t have to involve application development. Many cloud applications already feature APIs that simplify connectivity between systems.

For example, our Intelligent Business Platform (IBP) features solutions like Claims Processing, Capture and Conversion Services, and Intelligent Delivery mail services that feed data captured through the process into customer systems. Reporting, likewise, can be viewed via the IBP dashboard or exported.

Ultimately, this next phase of the cloud will redefine democratization from a connecting of systems to expanding use by stakeholders through automated workflows, distribution of information and data, and increased access, all secured through multi-layered security best practices.

What are the benefits to increasing user access to information via cloud applications

To understand the benefits of cloud and application democratization for businesses, think of how integrated your smartphone, tablet, or virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa is. If you want to add an App, you can do it. If you want to connect apps to your laptop, PC, or printers, you can easily do that too. You don’t need technical support.

That’s what cloud and application democratization does.

Now, that’s not to say our IT professionals aren’t necessary. On the contrary, they are as important as ever. Just like the IT experts at Amazon, Apple, Google, or your application of choice continue to evolve the applications and support the devices, a business’s IT professionals continue to plan and strategize, leading the business ideally to the most optimized tech platforms and infrastructures.

The difference? Just like we as end-users with our devices don’t need to rely on customer support or complex instructions to set up our tech, IT professionals are freed from day-to-day application support.

With this understanding, let’s take a look at the seven benefits of cloud democratization.

1. Increased productivity across the organization

Integrations are much more streamlined within and between cloud apps today. Non-IT stakeholders can often build workflows with applications like Kintone and RICOH Smart Integrations.

Reduced need for IT resources allows end-users to build workflows, reporting, and more, as needed. Agility like this empowers productivity.

2. Positive employee experiences

Empowered employees can get more done, focus on problem-solving, and collaborate and innovate. The sense of accomplishment that comes from productivity goes a long way to fostering a work environment where employees can be successful, creating positive work experiences.

3. Boost strategic thinking at all levels of the business

Before you build, you think. At least, you only make the mistake of building first once.

Providing stakeholders at all levels of the business to build the workflows they need prompts them to think about the best way to do it. If other team members need to be involved, collaboration and communication become integral to the effort as well.

Individuals start to think about how what they want to do will impact the business, and how what they envision will impact others as well.

All of this increases engagement and understand the importance of their unique role and how it contributes to achieving organizational goals.

4. Improved data security

By their very nature, cloud applications live in data centers whose owner should invest heavily in appropriate security measures – both cybersecurity and that which is needed for a secured physical property. For example, Amazon’s AWS platform would not be as successful if hackers could easily get past their security protocols and breach their applications.

Investing in cloud applications, rather than hosting them on-site or within the organization’s network, leverages the security protocols of the vendor. This reduces the tech investment needed by the organization.

Where can you find out about the security protocols offered by a cloud application provider? Details of the security are often defined in Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which are part of the contract.

5. Scalability to meet shifting needs

Cloud applications offer unparalleled scalability. Have a busy season coming up? Increase your application profile and user access to accommodate the increased workloads. Then, when it’s done, scale back to nominal levels.

Scalability like this provides organizations with the ability to have exactly what is needed, providing employees with the tools they need, when they need them most.

6. Work and business agility

Cloud access enables employees to work and collaborate whether in the office, working from remotely, or anywhere there is an internet connection. In this way, employees can work in a much more agile way.

Likewise, the scalability and ability of employees to build the workflows they need on demand, removes business processes from siloed, static development and management to a more dynamic and adaptable approach.

In short, not only do employees become more agile in how they work, business processes become more agile, benefiting both employees and the organization.

7. Deliver better customer experiences

Accelerated business processes make information available to employees faster, improving customer responsiveness. And with increased strategic thinking at all levels of the organization, everyone begins to think with a more customer-centric approach. After all, every business process in some way aim to ensure customers are happy, satisfied, and that their needs are met quickly.

So, are you ready for the next phase of cloud democratization?

As the Harvard Business Review article reported, increased tech intensity increases (doubles) growth.

Cloud democratization, specifically empowering stakeholders at all levels of the business, lies at the heart of this concept of tech intensity.

And that bring us back to where we started:

How is your cloud democratization effort going?

See what we are doing for companies around North America

Wherever you are in your journey, our workflow professionals and digital services can help you find integrated solutions to your organization’s biggest challenges.

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