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  • June 29, 2016
  • By Marydee Ojala Marydee Ojala, Conference Program Director, Information Today, Inc
  • Article

The Clout of Clouds

Any business with on-site storage should take such storms as a clear warning to stop doing that and move to a cloud solution. Clouds may bring rain, but they don’t become flooded. They add security that simply can’t be achieved any other way. With the cloud, your content is integrated. It’s not fragmented, so that people using content know they have the most current version, that errors have not been introduced somewhere along the line, and that they are not overlooking something important.

Ballantine is nothing if not realistic. Before you can put content in the cloud, you must capture it. Data extraction and classification might sound boring, but an automated data entry system cuts through the fog of data management.

Clouds Add Agility

Agility has almost become a buzzword applied to many different aspects of the business world. Agile programming is but one iteration of how the term is used. Agility’s buzzword status does not diminish the real value it brings to the workplace. Kelly Koelliker, Verint, identifies five key aspects of agility that are important to cloud-based knowledge management.

Rapid deployment brings instant gratification and allows for changes and enhancements to be tested quickly before rollout. Flexible growth allows companies to adjust quickly to the peaks and valleys of their business and to pivot adroitly when an unexpected event occurs. The training of new employees is also facilitated in an agile way thanks to cloud-based knowledge management. They can acquire needed information in real time, which brings them up to speed in minutes rather than months.

When complex business environments make a change in a product or process, communicating that effectively and efficiently to employees and customers is expected. Koelliker writes, “Knowledge management provides an elegant solution to this challenge. Because articles in the cloud can be updated instantly, each employee can always have real-time access to the latest version.” Her fifth point about agility concerns omnichannel interactions. Customers contact you not just by phone but also by live chat, social media, and mobile devices. A central knowledge base is essential to good customer service.

OpenText’s Lynn Elwood concurs with Koelliker’s emphasis on the importance of agility. “The cloud is all about speed,” she writes. Solving business problems should not be a long, drawn-out process. The expectation is that it happens almost instantaneously. The cloud enables this kind of agility. With the cloud, all customers receive the same updates at the same time. This brings a competitive advantage to companies.

Agility is only one benefit of the cloud, in Elwood’s opinion. Choice and flexibility are also high on her list. Making decisions with information sensitivity, regulatory compliance, and business priorities as criteria has made some organizations shy away from the public cloud. They worry about the safety of their data. A hybrid implementation, with some information in the cloud and other information kept on-site, is the solution.

Insight is another advantage of the cloud. SaaS applications built specifically for the cloud bring new insights from existing information. You can see what customers are actually doing with the application. This leads you to recognize where the expected behavior affects your business and, perhaps more important, where unexpected behavior happens and what that implies about your business. Further investigation into the unexpected behavior can lead to new engagement and sales. It can also foster powerful relationships with your customer base.

Data analytics provide another avenue to insights. With data in the cloud, the opportunities for obtaining meaningful analytical information increases. The cloud, thinks Elwood, is not limited to “just another deployment option.” Benefits of the cloud extend well beyond that and surpass anything a company could achieve with non-cloud, on-premises systems.

Importance of Information Governance

Security is always a concern when organizations contemplate putting information in the cloud. GlassIG’s James Fieger understands this, but sees a change in perceptions and actions. Just think how many individuals now use Google Drive and Dropbox on a regular basis. Once people accept cloud storage for their personal information, it’s a much easier sell inside the organization for corporate information.

In Fieger’s view, the simplicity of cloud storage provides a strong rationale for adopting the technology. It’s device agnostic and can be securely accessed from just about anywhere. There’s a bit of a downside, however. As employees store personal information on these cloud repositories, they are also tempted to put corporate data there as well. Plus, individual departments may have separate cloud drives and boxes, given the low to nonexistent cost structure.

Information governance, therefore, must play a major role in securing internal information. Regardless of whether you’re migrating to the cloud or starting in the cloud without ever having an on-the-ground presence, you need corporate policies regarding information storage. That policy needs to be simple to understand and to follow, otherwise non-compliance will become a problem. You need to be able to enforce information governance for all cloud solutions.

Clouds Are the Way

These white papers should bring clarity to your cloudy vision and help you see through the dark clouds to sunshine ahead. They don’t look at clouds from “both sides now,” since there are many more than two sides to cloud storage, cloud-based knowledge management, enterprise content management in the cloud, and digital information management. As you gaze at cloud formations in the sky, using your imagination to see them as puppies, castles, spaceships, or some other familiar object, remember there’s an analog to the cloud we use in the workplace. Its usefulness to the success of your organization takes many forms and the benefits are limited only by your imagination.

The clout of the cloud can be very real. Having your head in the clouds, if thought about from a knowledge and information management perspective, is not pejorative at all. It’s actually where you want to be. Clouds are not in the way, they are the way.

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