Across emerging African countries International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated the 2011–2016 CAGR for Hosting Infrastructure Services (HIS) to be 26.8%. However, due to a low base, cloud adoption is estimated to continue in double digits. “This presents challenges and opportunities for Africa’s CIOs” says Richard Edet Regional MD, West Africa at SAP Africa.
“Most CIOs will confirm that Africa did lag a bit in the adoption of cloud initially, however the introduction of the hybrid cloud has fast-tracked the adoption and CIOs today expect a high growth in the coming years.”
“Security and infrastructure challenges have plagued CIOs/IT managers in Africa from the time that cloud computing was introduced into the continent. With the growing corporate dependency on the web and mobile services, the topic of cloud security is more important than ever before.”
Gartner, in a recent survey, states that by end of 2017 nearly half of all large organisations will have hybrid cloud deployments. The good news is that the hybrid cloud environment, which integrates both on-premise and cloud-based solutions, allows companies to embrace the cloud without disruption. “The highest adoption of the hybrid cloud has been noticed in the financial sector, public sector customers, and even SMEs” says Edet. “As it offers a reduction in operational risk, optimisation in savings and strategic agility, the hybrid cloud enables CIO’s to overcome the challenges faced when using either public or private cloud”.
According to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research, CIOs are adopting the hybrid cloud approach to achieve significant benefits for their business. Although the majority of respondents believe a hybrid approach simplifies IT processes, 75 percent of CIOs globally still report institutional barriers that need to be overcome in order for the integration of cloud and on-premise solutions to gain wider acceptance.
So, how can CIOs/IT Managers in Africa tackle institutional barriers and conquer cloud fears in their workforce?
1) Bridge the gap between IT and the business
According to the Harvard Business Review’s two-year study, many CEOs believe that CIOs are simply not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing and that they do not understand where business needs to go. Additionally, over 60% of IT purchases are now being made by the line-of-business, not by the IT department. “If CIOs believe the company needs to innovate by integrating cloud with their core systems, and CEOs aren’t aligned with this vision, you can see how this is a recipe for miscommunication and wasted resources” says Edet.
2) Give them their cloud, their way
With a hybrid approach to cloud, a company’s workforce does not have to rush all applications to the cloud right away. Few companies want (and can afford) a ‘rip and replace’ approach. CIOs should ideally explain to their workforce that a hybrid cloud landscape supports fast adaptation while stabilising areas where the current on-premise approach still makes sense. Therefore, companies can create new value and save costs while also reducing disruption.
3) Spell out security from the start
Cloud security policies and technology have dramatically advanced. The use of encrypted databases and tokenised access to information has given CIOs and managers across the business confidence in cloud security. However, gaining the confidence of the workforce means following through on a careful and proven security plan. CIOs must explain to all employees how the cloud vendor they are using protects customers against unauthorised data access and misuse, as well as confidential data disclosure, using various measures for employees, applications, organisation, systems, and networks. Education is crucial.
4) Be transparent
No matter how much CIOs plan, unanticipated technical issues can come up during integration projects. It’s important for businesses to properly vet the cloud vendor and to set expectations with a workforce. Transparency is really a bigger issue than security. CIOs and IT departments not only have to ensure that cloud deployments comply with external and internal regulations, but they need to be able to prove that compliance to auditors and regulators.
5) Highlight the benefits
CIOs shouldn’t just deliver the technology. Moving to the cloud is often about change management. CIOs need to show how integrating on-premise and cloud-based applications can truly transform a business and deliver tremendous value – such as efficiency and flexibility. Additionally, pre-packaged integrations help businesses adopt and consume innovation faster than ever before in an IT environment that involves both on-premise and cloud-based applications. A hybrid cloud environment ultimately offers flexibility, choice, and control for companies that need to manage change and capitalise on emerging trends.
“I am of the firm conviction that the cloud serves a strategic purpose in helping organisations in Africa accelerate innovation, and when done correctly, a hybrid cloud approach answers the need for flexibility.” But, like a winning doubles tennis team, hybrid cloud computing requires skill, strategy, and most of all – constant communication. “When hybrid cloud computing is out of an organisation’s comfort zone, it’s up to CIOs to help their workforce stay focused on the big picture – the profound flexibility that integration will give to companies who want an edge in this customer-driven world,” concludes Edet.