Research from AIIM exposes a battle being played out by business users and IT departments as the adoption of cloud computing accelerates. The AIIM Industry Watch Report titled, “Content in the Cloud – making the right decision,” shows business managers, who are looking for quick and easy access to applications, are in conflict with IT departments as cost-savings, flexibility and ease of deployment are placed higher in importance than regulation and control.

“Conflicting opinions between IT, business and records managers are unavoidable when it comes to making strategic plans for cloud migration,” said AIIM President John Mancini. “The conflict is heightened by the fact that 50 percent of business managers view SaaS and cloud as a default option for any new application, whereas only 19 percent of IT managers agree.”

Business managers wanting apps and apps stores have high expectations for ease and deployment speed, while IT and records managers want to exert some degree of governance and security. Despite these differences, the move to the cloud is happening and represents a major change in corporate IT infrastructure as a result of increased local use of social applications, Web collaboration and cloud-file sharing.

The research found cloud will become the default model, and the number of organisations that consider cloud to be their de-facto deployment for general IT applications will jump from 7 percent to 41 percent in three years and to 77 percent in six to eight years.

According to Doug Miles, director of market intelligence at AIIM, “Of particular concern is the recent growth in use of cloud-based file-sharing applications. Business users have a tendency to adopt consumer-grade applications as a simple way of getting their job done – often opting for the ‘freemium’ model. Meanwhile IT departments, concerned about security and governance, prevent access to these services, when they should be acknowledging the business need and setting up an approved and secure business-grade service.”

Most IT managers worry that long-term costs are being ignored and the report found that cloud charging models are not weighted in favor of long-term usage. Suppliers should also take note that the obvious concerns over security and reliability are still prevalent and will need to be addressed in any product offering.

In summary, AIIM advises organisations to consider the cloud or run the risk of having business users openly defy IT policies in order to get their jobs done. Top recommendations include:

  • Understand the cloud user: Create/maintain a directory of SaaS, cloud and other off-premise applications, and record satisfaction levels and user experiences
  • Pay attention to cloud-based file-sharing: Rather than forbid or restrict access, set a policy in place to use business-grade applications and avoid unsecured subscriptions
  • Agree on a cloud strategy that encompasses business users and IT concerns: Consider costs, security, application areas, integration, suppliers and back-up systems
  • Set priorities around a phased approach: Start with applications that bring the most benefit from wider access across the enterprise including those outside the firewall
  • Evaluate and consider all viable options: Look at “designed-for-cloud” offerings as well as extensions to existing on-premise systems for increased access and cost savings.

“Business users see the cloud as a way to bypass the IT department, while custodians of content are horrified by the potential risks of ungoverned and isolated content silos,” said Miles. “The best approach is for business and IT managers to put aside their differences and work together to adopt the cloud content management and collaboration solutions that are best for their business.”