Knowledge workers know that cloud services make our work lives easier, drive business agility and increase productivity. For instance, when colleagues need to share a file that’s too large to attach to an email message, they simply toss it into a cloud-based file sharing service and get back to work. It’s great that people find their own ways to team up, but can there be “too much of a good thing”?
Too much of a good thing?
Recently we analyzed the cloud services usage of more than 3 million end users across more than a hundred companies spanning a wide range of industries. We learned that the average enterprise uses 19 different file sharing & collaboration services. That’s right, 19.
Certainly there is benefit in groups and individuals using the services that best meet their needs, but with certain services, like file sharing and collaboration, an unmanaged policy can actually impede collaboration and productivity.
How? The collaborative value of these services increases as more employees use the same services. So, there is a productivity value in standardization.
Think about this common scenario
Consider a cross-functional team tasked working on Project Launchpad. At the kick-off meeting, they agree to use a file sharing site for the project. The marketing team recommends DropBox, the engineering team recommends Hightail, the customer service team recommends Box , the finance team recommends Egnyte, and so on. Now add multiple projects and keep track of which projects are in which file sharing service and you can see what a problem it becomes for the individual and the organization as a whole
No company uses 19 different CRM services or 19 ERP services or 19 email services or 19 project management applications. Similarly, it likely doesn’t make sense to use 19 different file sharing services.
Beyond productivity to economics and risk management
Aside from the productivity benefits, there is also economic value in procuring enterprise licenses over thousands of individual licenses, as well as security benefits in managing data in a smaller number of third-party cloud service providers. This latter point is most important for organizations that must maintain good oversight of where their data is—and today that is every business, large or small.
CIOs should encourage employees to identify and test new services that can boost productivity. Our customer Brian Lillie, CIO of Equinix, says that the CIO’s job is to be the “chief enabler” of the business.
The new role of “Chief Enablement Officer”
Being the chief enabler means understanding not just which cloud services employees have purchased or signed up for, but which ones they actually use and get real value out of. Then it’s the CIO’s responsibility to evaluate those services for risks and benefits, and standardize on and promote the ones that best meet the organization’s needs.
In this way, the CIO can maximize the value of the services and help drive an organized and productive movement to the cloud.