In a recession, the obligation to do more with less and maximise efficiency can break a business, and the reliance on fast, secure IT systems means that the enterprise’s success is often inextricably linked with the viability of its IT infrastructure. Downtime is a risk to business continuity, and that can be fatal. IT managers are responsible for business applications, business data, IT infrastructure management and maintenance. In smaller enterprises, that can be a heavy workload for a small department that also faces budgetary challenges. Having access to a more flexible infrastructure, on-tap expertise and a seamless upgrade path could free up IT managers to plan ahead and become more closely aligned with business goals rather than focusing on low-level repairs and maintenance.
With more flexible, scalable resources at their disposal, IT managers can become as flexible and responsive to the organization’s needs as the organization itself needs to be in a hyper-competitive environment. The day-to-day management of IT hardware, business applications, data and infrastructure then becomes a question of managing agreed levels of service and key performance indicators rather than maintaining hardware, securing the back door and fixing bugs and glitches. It frees up the IT department to become a more active, strategic component of the business, as opposed to merely a passive or reactive internal function whose profile rarely rises above that of low-level service.
A survey of over 200 senior IT decision-makers and strategists within small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) finds that only 27% of respondents disagreed with the idea that cloud computing would enable them to align themselves more closely with corporate goals. Some 68% percent of the respondents came from enterprises with fewer than 100 employees, and 50% from companies with fewer than 50 staff, suggesting that the smaller the enterprise, the more difficult it is for IT departments to operate strategically.