Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Cloud Social: What’s So Awesome About It?

wowWell, it’s not like your company owns Facebook or Twitter, so the notion you can control and execute social “on-site” was always a non-starter.  What you can do is embrace and throw your C-suite weight behind Cloud Social…integrating social relationship management, social data, and social collaboration with other enterprise applications in the Cloud for real-time, actionable insight.


To do this effectively enough to revolutionize your customer experience and make them forever, undyingly loyal to your brand, there must be an overall adoption of Cloud computing and social’s place in it. That’s happening. But is it happening in your organization?


Respondents to a TechInsights Report indicated the cloud is maturing in the enterprise, with IT decision makers achieving better results, faster deployments and lower costs than expected. That was true across Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Given that, it’s no surprise we see increases in Cloud spending. Those using Cloud for 4+ years are nearly 6x more likely to report increasing cloud spending by over 30% this year. Cloud spending even amongst small to midsized businesses is projected to rise to $95 billion by 2015.


If you’re reaction to that is, “Goodie for them,” it might be time to run down the primary advantages of shifting to the Cloud.


  • Cost Savings: more power, speed and storage than you might otherwise be able to afford.
  • Ability to Innovate: cited as the top benefit by US respondents. It’s amazing what you can do when time and money are freed up.
  • Security: often cited as a concern, it’s actually a plus as cloud providers are often better equipped to guard data. Is your current on-site security flawless?
  • Disaster Avoidance: data is automatically backed-up daily and can be restored seamlessly.
  • Smarter Resourcing: stats show up to 80% of IT budget are bogged down in routine maintenance. Is that really where you want your money and the time of your CIO/CTO to go?
  • Options Aplenty: go with a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid depending on your needs and comfort level. The Cloud can scale as you grow.
  • Headache Reduction: fewer worries about updates, maintenance, support, and deployment.
  • Mobility: stakeholders can get what they need from the cloud any time, from anywhere, on any device, making collaboration downright modern.
  • Green: Using Cloud for storage uses at least 30% less energy than on-site servers.


Arguments against enjoying these kinds of enterprise efficiencies are getting harder to find. And where social is specifically concerned, the socially enabled enterprise is hardly possible without it. That’s a lot of incredibly valuable, freely offered customer data to be left chugging along in the slow, expensive lane.


@mikestiles
Photo: David Siqueira, stock.xchng


Friday Aug 09, 2013

The Social Cloud Primer

templecloudThe foundation for the socially-enabled enterprise is cloud-based platforms and software. It has increasingly become the accepted foundation for facilitating integrated processes and data across the organization. And there’s a lot of good news about that. After all, who thinks better efficiencies, more actionable data, improved customer experiences and lower costs sounds like a bad idea?

First, a refresher on what it means to be a socially-enabled enterprise.

Social has become essential for every consumer-facing department and business application. As silos crumble, an integrated approach to data is no longer an innovation or luxury…it’s what is required to remain relevant and competitive.

The socially-enabled enterprise is key for modern customer experiences. Social users are perpetually connected, mobile, and vocal. And because they expect gratifying, real-time responses, corporate workflows are getting spun like a top. Altimeter Group says companies manage an average 178 corporate-owned social media accounts, meaning that for social, systems are needed for publishing, analytics, listening, moderation, engagement, paid social, content management, social app development, marketing automation and admin…none of which can be islands unto themselves.

And that’s just social data. Enterprise data growth is expected to continue at 40% through 2020. The ideal scenario is for the value of all that social data you’re now pulling in to be amplified via integration with other core business applications. Now you’re discovering insights you didn’t know existed, you’re developing dynamic, real-time dashboards, reports and alerts for rapid decision-making, and you’re maxing out your Customer Service, Sales, and Support applications.

About now, you’re getting an idea of the speed, flexibility and processing power this ideal scenario calls for, and that’s where the cloud floats to the rescue. Only a cloud-based, enterprise infrastructure, platform and applications suite that extends social’s power across all consumer-facing touch points can give you the social insight + enterprise data combo that make actionable, real-time views of the customer work.

A 2012 Gartner Data Center Conference poll showed almost 9 out of 10 organizations were planning, piloting, or already using a private cloud. Others are deploying public/private hybrid clouds. But increasingly, businesses are seeing a) the need to process and utilize the vast amounts of Big Data now available and b) the need to rapidly, confidently deploy technologies that become available faster and faster.

With that kind of workload becoming the norm, on-site, traditional IT infrastructures are quickly becoming the most expensive, most inefficient proposition available. Data analysis is faster in the cloud, resources can be added and deployed as needed, and stakeholders can tap into the same data pool to satisfy their varied goals.

However…despite the benefits of systems being integrated in the cloud, many businesses are choosing the quagmire of using multiple cloud vendors for multiple processes. Recently, polled business managers reported staff downtime, missed business deadlines, and stunted innovation initiatives thanks to poor/no integration of cloud applications from multiple vendors. The 2013 InformationWeek State of Cloud Computing Survey showed 66% are using 2-5 providers, and 33% don’t integrate cloud services. It’s a one shop, legitimately integrated enterprise cloud that delivers the kinds of user experiences that make competitors sweat.

Adoption is happening. In 2012, spending on cloud tech was expected to increase by about 25%. IT departments inside the enterprise are standing toe to toe with the future, and must decide whether or not to up their strategic importance by embracing its changing role. Because with the enormity of intelligence that social offers, data collection, processing and analysis is the only hope of bringing order to metrics chaos so brands can fully reap the monetary benefits of intimately knowing their customer.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 16, 2013

Is Cloud Security Holding Back Social SaaS?

Cloud CastleThe true promise of social data co-mingling with enterprise data to influence and inform social marketing (all marketing really) lives in cloud computing. The cloud brings processing power, services, speed and cost savings the likes of which few organizations could ever put into action on their own. So why wouldn’t anyone jump into SaaS (Software as a Service) with both feet? Cloud security.

Being concerned about security is proper and healthy. That just means you’re a responsible operator. Whether it’s protecting your customers’ data or trying to stay off the radar of regulatory agencies, you have plenty of reasons to make sure you’re as protected from hacking, theft and loss as you can possibly be.

But you also have plenty of reasons to not let security concerns freeze you in your tracks, preventing you from innovating, moving the socially-enabled enterprise forward, and keeping up with competitors who may not be as skittish regarding SaaS technology adoption. Over half of organizations are transferring sensitive or confidential data to the cloud, an increase of 10% over last year.

With the roles and responsibilities of CMO’s, CIO’s and other C’s changing, the first thing you should probably determine is who should take point on analyzing cloud software options, providers, and policies.

An oft-quoted Ponemon Institute study found 36% of businesses don’t have a cloud security policy at all. So that’s as good a place to start as any. What applications and data are you comfortable housing in the cloud? Do you have a classification system for data that clearly spells out where data types can go and how they can be used? Who, both internally and at the cloud provider, will function as admins? What are the different levels of admin clearance? Will your security policies and procedures sync up with those of your cloud provider?

The key is verifiable trust. Trust in cloud security is actually going up. 1/3 of organizations polled say it’s the cloud provider who should be responsible for data protection. And when you look specifically at SaaS providers, that expectation goes up to 60%. 57% “strongly agree” or “agree” there’s more confidence in cloud providers’ ability to protect data. In fact, some businesses bypass the “verifiable” part of verifiable trust. Just over half have no idea what their cloud provider does to protect data.

And yet, according to the “Private Cloud Vision vs. Reality” InformationWeek Report, 82% of organizations say security/data privacy are one of the main reasons they’re still holding the public cloud at arm’s length. That’s going to be a tough position to maintain, because just as social is rapidly changing the face of marketing, big data is rapidly changing the face of enterprise IT. Netflix, who’s particularly big on the benefits of the cloud, says, "We're systematically disassembling the corporate IT components." An enterprise can never realize the full power of big data, nor get the full potential value out of it, if it’s unwilling to enable the integrations and dataset connections necessary in the cloud.

Because integration is called for to reduce fragmentation, a standardized platform makes a lot of sense. With multiple components crafted to work together, you’re maximizing scalability, optimization, cost effectiveness, and yes security and identity management benefits. You can see how the incentive is there for cloud companies to develop and add ever-improving security features, making cloud computing an eventual far safer bet than traditional IT.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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