Wednesday, 25 January 2012 14:09

Cloud computing no longer a rollout

By Chris Luxford

According to a recent IDC survey of the intentions of CIOs in Australia, 20.6% of respondents were using a cloud solution. The same survey says that by 2015 the use of cloud services by Australian companies - from SMBs to enterprise-size organisations - is set to quadruple - so what does this mean for service providers and users?

 

If you needed any further convincing that cloud computing is no longer on a roll but becoming a bullet train, IDC forecasts that the revenue for cloud services in Australia will increase from its 2010 figure of $470 million to just over $2 billion in 2015 - a compound annual growth rate of 34%.

So what does this all mean for IT services and BPO organisations such as Aegis and for our clients?

Before answering that, it is worth looking back at technology. Technology has been changing the way we have been doing business for some decades. And keeping on top of that change requires time (and usually a large IT department) to understand the technology and how it can impact a business.

Technology is going to continue to be an ever increasing enabler of differentiating change. I think this is helped by the fact we no longer fear technology. We now understand what it can do for our business.  The real change that organisations are seeking to drive is differentiation. In today's increasingly information rich and knowledge worker based environments that differentiation will largely come from an organisation's ability to change business processes at a speed that is faster than the competition.  Technology as a process change enabler is critical.

I think in the past technology was seen as a necessary evil. We didn't trust the many large promises that technology sales people made, in part as we can all share a story of a large, company-wide technology investment that turned out to be a dud.  The problem was that the organisation became so fatigued by the 'technology project' that they never turned their attention to the more important piece of process change (adoption) post the technology implementation, resulting in low, or in many cases, no ROI.

Technology projects used to be long (sometimes years), often blew out budgets and as a result ROI would frequently be at less than desired levels, but you had to do it to stay competitive.

Cloud offerings change all that.  Technology can be turned on and off in an instant. The most exciting part is that resources can be invested and assigned in driving the required process change to deliver the ROI and the desired market differentiation.

Technology has long driven differentiation, revenue and cost competitiveness at Aegis. Cloud computing will enable us to continue to do this but in a more client centric customer outcome fashion. This will allow us to become far more proactive in driving genuine business process change.

At the moment we have about 50,000 people globally in call centres around the world, including 2,400 here in Australia.

Until now our own technology platform has required an almost continuous upgrade cycle of hardware to keep pace with changes in software - at significant cost. It can also be hard to move staff around because their login is dedicated to a particular hardware spec for the various client related activities.

At Aegis we are constantly striving to be at the cutting edge of technology. Thus we have recently undertaken a revolutionary technology upgrade with our Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Project.

Australia is among the first countries in the world to make the transition to the Citrix VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) along with Aegis offices in India, the Philippines and South Africa.

The investment will enable our employees to 'hot desk' meaning our staff can sit at any desk in any location and still have easy and instant access to all the information they need. This technological upgrade will further assist us in managing and enhancing the experience of our partners' customers.

From our initial cost estimates we believe we will save 50% on our hardware costs. But while the cost improvements are impressive, it's the speed with which we can drive the aforementioned process change that is really exciting.  We believe we can undertake and execute process change in a third of the time we were able to previously, with greater flexibility from cloud-based technology.

Improved business agility, flexibility and efficiency, increased ability to exceed the business outcomes of clients and meet their ever changing needs, desktops being easier to manage, more secure and operated at a lower cost, increased productivity, choice and flexibility for any user, and a faster roll out of contracts are all expected outcomes of this significant technology upgrade.

Some companies have so far chosen to shy away from cloud because of the perceived security issues. My observation is that our technical people are very comfortable with the security of the cloud. They understand how security is managed, what risk mitigation strategies need to be implemented and how to ensure both ours and our client's data integrity. Security remains one of the most important issues for our clients - we simply would not embark on cloud based offerings without rock solid confidence.

For me I believe there is an invisible line. Those below the line are those that look at decisions and focus on the risk of change. Then there are those above the line - those who think 'what is the risk of not changing'.

For Aegis, we are above the line. We need innovative business processes and a workforce that can move around from office to office depending on demand.  This is not only important for our growth globally, but also for the growth and differentiation of our clients and their businesses.

Chris Luxford is President - Australia / New Zealand,  Aegis Services Australia

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