There are two ways of looking at what cloud is doing to today’s enterprises:
- It is breaking things down, distributing and diffusing information and power across and beyond enterprises, with the widespread adoption of cloud services in and around IT, resulting in subscriptions from department to department.
- It is serving as a great unifier, providing unprecedented standardization and common platforms all across the enterprise.
A recent survey of 700 executives by MIT Technology Review, underwritten by Oracle, definitely puts cloud on the unifier side.
The survey makes the case that cloud is increasingly bringing enterprises together, especially finance, human resources (or human capital management) and information technology. The MIT survey included executives from each of these domains, and most agree that moving finance and HR systems to the cloud was a strategic necessity.
The convergence is already underway for many – 35% said they planned to create a shared finance and HR function within a year. Their impetus for the switch? Forty-two percent say they are motivated by improvements in productivity and performance. They say the convergence will help promote operational excellence and accelerate innovation – all good stuff, of course.
The process has already seen results, executives say – 46% of respondents from finance and HR report that collaboration has improved significantly. In addition, 42% say they are motivated by improvements in productivity and performance, while 41% say the cloud enables them to reapportion their time to focus on revenue generation.
What will this converged environment look like? Likely, it consists of a highly integrated cloud platform with common reporting tools. Skills availability is vital for competitive differentiation these days – companies are competing on analytics and data, requiring not only technology skills, but a workforce full of innovative and critical thinkers. That’s why HR needs to be well-wired into the strategic planning of the enterprise. Plus, individual performance can be measured on an ongoing basis, feeding into overall corporate key performance indicators, helping managers address problems as or before they occur. “Finance and HR often pair up when venturing into the cloud, given their joint stakes in areas like budgeting and workforce planning,” the MIT report relates.
For members of some functions, full implementation may actually be closer than it appears. Only 28% of HR members say their function has fully risen to the cloud, and 27% of CEOs and COOs say their companies are in the late stages of implementations. By contrast, 48% of IT executives, who are likely focusing on the implementation work ahead of them, say their organizations are cloud-ready.
The convergence is an incredible learning experience for all. “While executing a cloud transformation strategy, finance and HR leaders learned much more than how to integrate a new technology with existing operations and support systems,” the report’s authors state. “They expanded their roles, instilled an organizational culture of continuous change and improvement, and developed the ability to clearly conceptualize the shape of the next disruption. Beyond coordinating an infrastructure upgrade, the finance and HR leaders end up emerging with thoroughly modern mindsets as well as business models that are flexible enough to see them through the coming changes.”
The survey finds 43% plan to bring IT people into finance and HR to help employees take advantage of new technologies; 42% will provide management skills training to help employees break out of their traditionally administrative responsibilities; 42% plan to automate administrative and low-skilled roles; and nearly 40% plan to build their team’s data science and statistical analysis expertise. “Such cross-enterprise intermingling reveals the imprint that the experience of cloud deployment leaves behind,” the survey’s authors state. “Among finance and HR executives whose companies have fully deployed the cloud, almost half (46%) say their ability to reshape or resize the organization as necessary is significantly improved – as do 47% of C-level respondents.”