What does successful cloud investment look like?

Right now, and in the months following the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations will be re-examining their current strategies and processes, seeking the best and most efficient returns on their investments.

Crucially, businesses will be reviewing their own IT strategies, and the types of software solutions that they have been adopting. The past months have reaffirmed the importance of technology when it comes to the successful day-to-day operations of a business, and innovative solutions have solved many of the operational problems that businesses have faced. 

With Gartner estimating that worldwide IT spending will reach almost $4tn this year, and enterprise software spend being the fastest-growing area of investment, there is undoubtedly no shortage of ambition when it comes to the implementation of cloud-based solutions. But are organisations investing in the right places – and crucially, just because a software is in use, does it mean it’s useful?

The current picture

AppLearn surveyed 511 executive-level decision makers at large UK and US businesses to understand attitudes, priorities and barriers to successful SaaS technology rollouts. 

The Digital Adoption Pulse report found that there was a widespread appetite for the increasing use of technology, with 73% of business leaders stating that they had rolled out new enterprise Software-as-a-Service solutions in the last year. In addition, despite challenging economic circumstances for businesses, 53% said that their budgets for software initiatives would increase in the next 12 months. 

However, measurement was frequently highlighted as a challenge. Only 45% of those surveyed stated that they have digital KPIs in place for all applications, and only 12% measure the success of their applications after one year, falling to 5% after three years. 

When asked about the challenges to the successful implementation of new cloud-based solutions, over a third (38%) of organisations highlighted that changing employee processes and habits was the biggest barrier– reinforcing that changing company culture can have a significant impact on enabling true digital transformation.  The successful rollout of technology is about much more than the technology itself and must cover strategy, culture, behaviour, processes and skills before you get to the software. 

Maximising cloud investments

On the surface, conditions for digital adoption seem to be perfect. Board-level engagement, budgets and the prioritisation of technology are all there. But somewhere in the process of making these ambitions a reality, something seems to be going wrong. It is widely publicised that 70% of digital transformation projects fail. This is mismanagement on a huge scale.

One challenge that we uncovered and see frequently when speaking to large enterprises is tying technology investments to clear and meaningful business outcomes. It’s important for organisations to identify aims and KPIs from the very beginning of a software project – this will help them to understand what to measure and what they need to change to ensure success. Having clear outcomes in mind, and then having the tools in place to measure and examining the returns on your software investments, can help you to ensure long-term success. For example, if IT helpdesk ticket reduction is the aim, look for metrics that highlight where the issues are arising – where are people getting stuck, and how could you proactively resolve the problem before it results in a ticket? 

It’s also important to remember that much of what affects the success of digital projects happens outside the technology itself. Company culture and user engagement plays a huge role, as well as how your chosen software fits into your wider IT estate. Taking steps to reduce friction between applications, anticipating user issues and resolving them, and providing clear communication with those users, will all help to ensure consistent and impactful digital adoption now and in the future.

Mark Barlow is CEO at AppLearn

This insight is part of techUK's Cloud Week 2020. You can find related news and insights here.

  • Sue Daley

    Sue Daley

    Associate Director | Technology & Innovation
    T 020 7331 2055

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