The role of IT in the adoption of cloud-based collaboration systems

While cloud computing applications eliminate the need for some management on the part of IT, tech leaders still have a role to play when those services are implemented, as George Hillston discusses in this guest post. 

According to a Gartner report that was published this year, cloud computing SMB spending is on the rise globally. In fact, it is “expected to reach $131 billion in 2013, a steep increase from $111 billion in 2012.” The use of this new technology continues to grow today for the simple reason of being an affordable, scalable and adaptable means to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demands and provide a real-time communication network that allows sharing of resources.

Transitioning to the cloud is an ideal IT strategy for business owners as it involves tools apt for an increasingly distributed workforce. A cloud solution is beneficial for those who need to work on documents and shared apps simultaneously. Moreover, it brings communication and collaboration tools to work together seamlessly and across the web, on multiple systems and devices, to share files and conduct online meetings.

Cloud collaboration software

Collaboration software hosted in the cloud increases Unified Collaboration which can enhance interoperability and workflow processes. Cloud solution providers offer enterprise-friendly cloud services like document management systems and video collaboration software. These tools, which are normally the most used cloud-based services, allow that flexibility that business owners require for their workforce. There are, of course, pros and cons in the use of these tools.


  • It can overcome time and money constraints: managers don’t need to invest in separate applications for all employees when a collective one can be used by many.
  • The cloud platform provides a unique framework to manage work and deliver on-demand software.
  • It can create seamless collaboration between employees in the most remote locations or on-the-go.


  • It might be only worthwhile when there is a large pool of people in need of the same programs over a platform.
  • In an uncontrolled manner, such software has execution risks.

Role of IT managers

There are several considerations IT managers must make before and during implementation of such tools. Some are purely technical and involve skills that IT managers already possess and exercise daily in their profession: these considerations involve topics like authentication methods, protection against threats (especially when employees are allowed to log on remotely and through BYOD) and secure execution of all the applications that are run virtually. Document management systems operated in the cloud, for example, might present security issues as confidential data are being stored outside the business premises.

However, the role of IT managers is changing together with the evolution of systems and the expansion of cloud-based environments. Now more than ever, IT managers need to work in synergy with all the company’s departments to better adapt the cloud potentials to the requirements of end users. They also need to be imaginative and innovator to promote different uses and new collaboration tools that can enhance productivity.

It is essential that IT managers concentrate also on managing customer expectations and, eventually, monitor satisfaction with the product. Switching to a cloud based system, in fact, could result in some cases in system slowdowns that could surprise and upset customers used to data and applications stored on site. These holdups could overshadow the benefits of cloud-based systems in term of data recovery, cost savings and flexibility.

Benefits for IT managers

Cloud service as a collaboration platform can provide a solution to manage projects and get things done. In fact, cloud architecture can actually benefit IT managers in cases where they need to work together with others at a distance. By using the cloud, IT managers can meet specific project goals in a timely manner and have access to high-end technology even if the company doesn’t have a high budget to invest in sufficient IT resources that are needed to complete projects.

In sum, cloud computing can be used to benefit businesses for unified communications and shared services. The cloud architecture can empower those in need of telepresence and video conferencing software, audio/video content collaboration and knowledge sharing. IT managers must be able to evolve with technology and assume in many cases even a less technical role to concentrate on studying the needs of the client company and suggest the better tools to gain an edge on completion.

About the author: George Hillston is a former IT consultant for many mid-to-enterprise level businesses.  He also likes to blog about business technology in his spare time. You can find more of his articles on his Google+ profile.

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