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IT staffs see changing roles amid cloud UC

IT roles are shifting, as more companies adopt cloud services. IT staffs must now ensure they are leading the adoption of new capabilities that deliver business value.

Unified communications continues to shift to the cloud. The latest data from Nemertes Research shows 44% of organizations...

are now using cloud-based telephony, and that's projected to grow to 56% by the end of 2018. Other UC applications, such as instant messaging and video conferencing, are seeing similar adoption trends.

The shift to cloud significantly affects the organization and strategies of IT staffs. Surprisingly, companies moving to cloud are seeing increases in IT staffs, rather than decreases, according to Nemertes data. For some companies, this trend is temporary, as organizations add staff to manage the cloud transition while still supporting legacy infrastructure. But, for most companies, the additional staff brought on board -- to manage vendor relationships, deployments and training -- is often reassigned to business-facing roles. 

Organizations moving to the cloud have seen a reduction of full-time equivalents dedicated to operations and technical support. These reductions were more than offset by increases in staff responsible for vendor relationship management, user awareness and adoption efforts, and business-IT liaison roles, leading to a 6% net increase of total staff.

Staff assigned to promote user awareness and adoption is the biggest area of increase, because organizations often add new features when migrating to the cloud. This also changes companies' success metrics from uptime and performance to adoption and business value derived from investment. Just one-quarter of Nemertes' study participants simply migrated existing on-premises applications to the cloud without adding new features.

Business leaders are increasingly thinking of IT staffs not as a cost center, but as a means of achieving business objectives. IT staffs must ensure they are leading the adoption of new capabilities that deliver business value instead of judging success by the number of calls to the help desk.

Evaluate how costs will change

Companies should not assume that migrating to the cloud will reduce spending.

Another area driving cost growth is the need to redesign the WAN for cloud. Most enterprise networks are still built on MPLS and designed for connectivity between offices and internal data centers. As more applications shift to the cloud, IT staffs are investing in technologies such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), direct cloud connect and cloud exchanges that optimize performance of cloud-based apps. 

Adopting SD-WAN often reduces MPLS costs, but direct cloud connect services add new costs to the network budget. According to Nemertes data, 37% of organizations shifting to the cloud increase spending on security audits designed to ensure their connections to cloud services do not create new avenues of potential attack.

Companies evaluating or already moving to the cloud for their communication needs should evaluate how their costs will change and not simply assume that migrating to the cloud will reduce spending. Plan to spend less on day-to-day operations of applications, systems and servers. Plan to spend more on managing cloud providers, training end users and working with lines of business to align application deployments with business need.

Develop approaches that allow you to measure the business improvements that new collaboration features enable. Also, plan to make additional investments in network and security services to ensure optimal cloud application performance and availability while minimizing risk.

Next Steps

Users are buying cloud products, but hurdles remain.

Build a staff dedicated to cloud computing.

Cloud spawns noteworthy changes in IT staffing.

This was last published in August 2017

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