From excitement to no-go in ten minutes
Recently a representative from an SME said the following: “I’m impressed with your cloud-based telephone system. A super alternative to our existing solution. This is exactly what we’ve long been looking for – a simple solution, all the functions we need, even a little collaboration, numerous options for managing the solution ourselves, no hardware, no adaptations, no investments. But there’s got to be a catch, right? Let’s talk about the price.” At this point, referring to the pay-as-you-use model, we stated a price they couldn’t turn down. “Where’s the contract?”
The desire for stability
And they all lived happily ever after, … the perfect fairy tale. Alas, the reality is a little more complex in the world of collaboration. In this case, our intrepid hero didn’t actually get his princess in the end. After the price, another important issue came up: “If you now assure me that no more changes will be made to the solution over the next ten years, I’ll sign right away.” “Erm, our telephone system is provided from the cloud. The new release is coming out in six months. The clients are developed continuously and updated regularly. And after that …”
All of us – myself included – yearn for things to stay as they are, just as we know them. We need immovable foundations in our lives. Memory coaches recommend we always complete routine tasks immediately so that pressure is removed from the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thought processes. In other words, the more familiar we are with procedures, the easier we find them, and these routines free us up for our brain’s “core activities.” Why shouldn’t we also apply this principle to collaboration systems (or generally to all types of ICT support)? A solution that works like a dream and has a great price – forever. No more reading release notes, no more training for new functions, reliability, availability at a level that everyone is familiar with.
Digitalization – an end to resting on our laurels
This sounds positively utopian. But if digitalization teaches us one thing, it is that we can never have lasting solutions. The wheels are always turning. Often this means that the range of functions is expanded, but sometimes it also means that this range is reduced, as less really can be more (honestly – how many of your telephone functions do you use?). The fact is, however, that everything is in flux – it’s sink or swim.
However much we long for consistency and durability, we’ll see precious little of it in this agile world. This is particularly so when solutions are offered from the cloud, as there is naturally competition among the providers, too, and many user companies are hungry for new possibilities. And new possibilities / standing out from the crowd on the collaboration provider market are also the result of specific benefits that other providers do not (yet) offer. So the merry-go-round of innovation also keeps on turning in the collaboration environment in a never-ending cycle. And the cloud doesn’t act as a brake at all in this process. Quite the opposite. Central rollouts, important patches, new functions – all these can be introduced at an unprecedented speed and implemented throughout the company using a cloud strategy.
Stability in the cloud isn’t produced by everything staying as it is but by maintaining established and accepted end user functions – even if the underlying conditions of business, IT, the market etc. change. Or to put it in visual terms – we want to sit on a park bench in peace and quiet, but need to learn how to swim, as the subsoil isn’t solid. The dynamics of our collaboration are constantly changing – and if we’re honest, this has always been part of our (business) lives.
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