Cracking the Cloud-Ed Nut: What matters to customers?

Leading numerous sales and discovery workshops with customers and architecting cloud solutions for them there have been quite a few moments when I have stepped back and pondered what really matters to the customer? It is that stepping back and reflection that prompted me to write this article.

Cloud consulting increases our responsibility towards a successful execution irrespective of the vendor selected by the customer.

Wikipedia defines SaaS as a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.

Software as a service, in my experience the service from the SaaS model is sorely lacking in software and delivery as well; In many cases products are lacking the strategic direction, instead features are being churned out to plot a point on the graph of competitive differential.

Let’s spend a few minutes on a customer’s journey from boardroom discussions of the viability of cloud as the core of their futuristic HR and IT strategy to the melee of vendor selection and final procurement. There can be multiple use cases of the current state of customers transitioning to the cloud; I have selected the most common ones that I have seen in my experience. The terms on-premise and cloud have been used as generic terms with no intended reference to a particular vendor.

Here are some of the more prevalent current states of a cloud prospect:

  1. Excel based HR Processes, i.e. no core HR system; Payroll and Benefits outsourced; No Talent
  2. On-premise core HR with Payroll and Benefits; No Talent
  3. On-premise core HR with Payroll and Benefits; Talent in the cloud

Of course there can be many permutations and combinations and the above cases are not exhaustive by any measure.

Some common assumptions that can be safely made when analyzing the customer’s architectural profile are:

  1. There are at least one or two external systems that will be fed by the cloud solution
  2. There is years of historical data and the customer does not really have a data archiving strategy
  3. There is no data governance whatsoever
  4. Analytics is just talk with an aspiration to reach there someday

So given the aforementioned backdrop when a customer is on their cloud voyage, here are my 5 “under the hood” concerns that a cloud prospect/customer has and these concerns are often intelligently skirted around.

  1. Are the feature enhancement releases mere bug fixes or part of an integrated product roadmap?
  2. Is your UI just fancy packaging or does it meaningfully integrate business processes?
  3. What are our extensibility options if we don’t qualify for an “out of the box” design?
  4. What metrics are your core HR and Talent solutions equipped with to help us get conditioned to the idea of analytical reporting?
  5. How is data handled? Replication, Conversion, Security!

Here’s where skirting these concerns leads a customer to.


A confused customer that is still trying to crack the Cloud-Ed nut!

All thoughts in this article are my own and are insights gained from working with customers who are on their journey to the cloud. Thank you for your time if you choose to read and share the article.

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