Despite the best efforts of the technology press (and a fair measure of hype), there’s still a lot of confusion about the exact nature and purpose of the cloud, in the eyes of many business users. Though adoption of cloud-based solutions for data storage, telecommunications, computing capacity, analytics, and infrastructure continues to increase, there are still obstacles for service providers and resellers to negotiate – like ongoing concerns about security, visibility, and ownership.
In this guide, we’ll offer some recommendations on making the cloud and its related technologies less of a hard sell.
Explain The Cloud In Simple Terms
You can start by clearing up the confusion about what the cloud actually is. “Cloud computing is using the Internet to deliver hardware and software services instead of keeping physical hardware and software at your office.”
Simple and succinct. Watching their eyes glaze over as you go on about “scalability” and “rapid provisioning” is never a good idea.
Think Of IT As Services
Rather than taking the historical view of IT as a mix of disparate hardware and software elements from various manufacturers – each of which requires its own brand of tweaking and administration – the cloud vision of IT offers equipment, applications, and management as a complete package, which clients can tap into as they would to a utility like water or power supply.
All the heavy lifting may be done by their service provider, while the client has access to consoles (think “valves” and “switches”) to regulate their consumption.
Take A Problem-Based Approach
Instead of pushing individual products, take the time to analyze the customer’s existing problems – then suggest cloud-based solutions that can address those issues.
Consider The Changes They’ll Need
Some adjustments on the client’s part may be required (culture change, data relocation, upgrading internet connections, etc.). Identifying these areas and suggesting ways in which the needed changes may be managed progressively will help alleviate customer anxiety.
All Or Nothing? No.
Enterprise-wide deployment of a cloud solution doesn’t have to happen all at once. In fact, there’s trust and familiarity with the system to be gained by phasing in the process – ideally with a product or service that addresses a specific need in the short term.
This approach can also emphasize the contrast with traditional IT models, where customers must make a cash commitment up front for hardware or licensed software, often with a “no returns” policy. Cloud solutions may typically offer a free trial period, and/or good visibility into how applications and resources function online.
Stress Improved Speed-To-Market
Market agility is a key feature of cloud-based infrastructure and services – and the way in which cloud solutions can improve the efficiency and productivity of a client’s business should be stressed as a selling point.
Using familiar systems like email and collaboration platforms to showcase the difference in performance between on-premises and cloud-based systems – and allowing customers to apply their own metrics to them, to verify these improvements – can speak to the client more eloquently than any marketing pitch.
Sell The Short-Term Gains
Emphasizing cost savings – particularly when dealing with small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) requiring little in the way of hardware and software licensing – can only take you so far.
Better to emphasize how a cloud solution can present the client with immediate or short-term gains in how they run their operations. Examples would include the hours (rather than months) needed for a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform to give them access to enterprise-class applications – for which they’d otherwise have to invest time and expertise in upgrading infrastructure, system configuration, and maintenance. Or how a cloud solution can extend the life of their existing systems and servers.
Stress The Financial & Strategic Benefits
In many organizations, cloud service acquisition falls under the remit of the finance department or Chief Financial Officer. For such clients, the “sway factor” won’t be how well a cloud solution can streamline their IT operations.
This would be time to focus on cost savings – from the reduced expenditure on hardware and software licenses to the cost-effectiveness of “pay-as-you-go” subscription-based pricing models.
Organizational and strategic gains (such as increased accessibility to resources, improved analytics capabilities, etc.) should also be stressed.
Explain The Provisions For Security & Failover
Security concerns are another bugbear, when it comes to selling cloud. Though major security breaches are comparatively rare, enterprise users remain concerned about how safe their information and intellectual property are in the hands of largely unknown third parties.
This emphasizes again the need to forge partnerships with reputable cloud providers whose network and employee monitoring, and general security practices are of the highest standard. Transparency is critical here, with disclosure to the client as to the provisions made for redundancy, Disaster Recovery, failover, incident response times, and related issues.
Remember: Private Isn’t A Dirty Word
Enterprise customers should also be given the option of a private or hybrid cloud solution – especially as such deployments may directly address their issues over data stewardship, internal management, and security.