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Cloud office adoption set to soar

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Many businesses are implementing Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 or other cloud office initiatives. But, how do you determine when to move your collaboration and communications systems to the cloud?
In a short Q & A, Jeffrey Mann , research vice-president at Gartner, reveals the state of the cloud office and what to do about it. Mann will be the Conference Chair for the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo taking place in Cape Town from 18 to 21 September, where he will be discussing the current state of the cloud office.
Q: What is the current state of cloud office adoption?
For a long time, on-premises has been the default choice of collaboration and communications products. That default position has now flipped as businesses consider cloud deployments first for most upgrades or new installations.
Rather than considering only the potential risks and advantages of moving to a cloud office system, forward-thinking organisations are also weighing up the negative implications of remaining on-premises.
While the adoption of cloud office is rising, it will never be universal due to many valid reasons that include security, privacy and vendor support. In 2018, we expect 40% to 50% of business users to have moved their core collaboration and communications systems to cloud platforms. By 2021, more than 70% of businesses will be substantially provisioned with cloud office capabilities.
Beyond implementation and migration, application leaders need to facilitate and encourage new ways of working that cloud office capabilities can support. Cloud office suites generally include additional capabilities (such as mobile apps, analytics and videoconferencing) and, for example, can help staff to sync email, organise and assign tasks, share files, chat about what they’re working on, and get updates on progress.
Q: What type of organisations will keep their collaboration services on-premises?
Some organisations that have primary concerns about security, privacy, data sovereignty and vendor support will be in favour of keeping their collaboration services on-premises.
These types of organisations can have large investments in complex infrastructure or integration, or have operations in countries such as China or Russia, or in remote locations with low connectivity that currently presents potential access issues.
Eventually, keeping collaboration services on-premises will lead to increasing prices in terms of cost, effort, functionality and restricted choice. Also, businesses will increasingly develop a pool of talent that expects, and thrives in, an agile and flexible environment illustrated by cloud office capabilities. As a result, IT planners need to weigh these negative factors against the risks.
Q: Will some companies use a combination of on-premises and cloud office services?
There are still organisations opting for a hybrid solution. For example, users based in China or those working for an aerospace division that is subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) could remain on-premises. Rather than rewrite highly customised applications for the cloud, many organisations will opt to leave those specific applications on-premises. While the hybrid option can provide the benefits of both models, it will be harder to implement and will cost more than a solution based on a pure cloud or pure on-premises model.
Organisations that keep their communications and collaboration deployments on-premises will miss out on cloud-only innovations and features such as content visualisation and discovery, virtual personal assistants, “smart” inboxes and unlimited storage. Overall, cloud users will have the best and most economical experience.