No way back

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27 May 2015 | 0

He suggests that if Renaissance’s experience is anything to go by, familiarity could help breed content for SMEs when it comes to the cloud. The distributor has moved its accounts system to a cloud-based solution and Conway describes it as “one of the best things we’ve ever done”. It is following up that change by migrating to a cloud-based CRM solution that plugs into the new accounts system.

He is adamant that having migrated to the cloud, there is no going back: “We would not consider for a minute putting in infrastructure for our own accounts/CRM system.”

““If you ask people what they think cloud is, you’ll get a whole set of different answers” – Michael Conway, Renaissance

Guido Marchetti, cloud evangelist at MJ Flood Technology, says he agrees with the statistic that only one in five Irish SMEs are using the cloud, adding that “the challenge is how to make it three in five or four in five”. He thinks there might a cultural reason why Irish SMEs are proving reluctant adopters of cloud computing.

After spending 15 months in the UK, he noticed a “stark contrast” in attitude when he returned to Ireland. In the UK, SMEs expected to be able to compete with large enterprises and to exploit technology to do so. They wanted the same benefits that larger businesses could get from technology. “There’s almost an attitude of ‘it works so why change it?’ in Ireland.”

He doesn’t believe the problem is with the messaging or packaging of cloud services to SMEs, it’s more about a lack of education. “They don’t realise the cost savings that can be made by moving to the cloud. Everybody is used to paying upfront for IT services and they seem to have a mental block about the change to monthly spending.”

In many respects, the situation mirrors the Irish obsession with owning their own houses. “They prefer to buy it and own it,” Marchetti says. “They’re used to having their own stuff. It sits in the corner and they can see it, touch it and feel it. There’s a need to have ownership that’s uniquely Irish.”

Migration cost
It doesn’t help that moving to the cloud also involves what many smaller companies might consider to be substantial migration costs. “The stumbling block for many can be the capital investment to get the migration done,” Marchetti admits. Smaller companies might well see the benefits of cloud but they could struggle to justify the investment. That’s compounded by the fact that cloud providers are essentially telling them to “give me your money and I’m going to take everything away from you”.

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