While concerns over cloud deployments are now a thing of the past, the cloud is still proving difficult for many enterprises. In fact, new research form Oracle shows thatthedual promise of business efficiency and IT agility is still eluding many enterprises.

Cloud App Integrations

The research is the result of a survey carried out by market research firm Dynamic Markets for Oracle across 1355 executives from companies all over the world with revenues of US$ 65 million or more, and shows that the problem of silos, it seems, is global.

Contained in a report entitled Cloud for Business Managers: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, it shows that many enterprises have not yet integrated their cloud applications and business functions. While there are many problems with this, the overall effect is operational inefficiencies and a challenging environment for IT and business environments. In figures, the report shows that:

  • 71% of companies have adopted cloud applications and line-of-business managers in all departments use them.
  • 76% said their principal motivation was quick and easy access to software
  • 54% say their department has experienced staff downtime due to cloud integration problems
  • 54% say project deadlines have been missed.
  • 83% have been prevented from getting the best out of their departmental cloud applications -- 1 in 4 blames poor integration.
  • 50%of companies have abandoned the use of at least 1 departmental cloud app in the last 3 years due to integration problems.

Combined,this does not bode well for the future, Oracle says, and shows that, despite the huge advances made in cloudtechnologies,there are still major issues that have to be overcome. In fact, according to the research, there are four areas that are particularly problematic. They are:

1. Staff downtime

Despite the promise of the cloud andcloud-based applications to provide easy access to business applications,54% of those that responded said that they had experienced staff downtime in the past six months alone.

This does not mean that employees have stopped working. It means that they have been forced to stop because cloud applications have not been properly integrated with other business apps across the enterprise. Of those companies able to produce a figure for the number of times they had problems of this kind over the past 6 months, there was, on average, 11 incidents. It also seems that this problem is impacting on departments that are not evening using cloud apps.

2. Missed project deadlines

The knock-on effect of this is that 54% of companies that use cloud apps say that project deadlines have been missed and that the specific cause of this has been an inability of knowledge workers to share their data. On average over the past 6 months, this has happened 9 times.

However, on a more positive note, there are more CEOs and managing directors (MDs) that say they are aware of it than there are CEOs and MDs that say they are not.Missing project deadlines has been particularly problematic in Singapore, India and Brazil.

3. Cloud falls short

Another issue that appears to be a big problem is that most companies are not able to innovate quickly, something which you may recall in the beginning was cited as one of the really big advantages of cloud computing.

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According to the research, 75% of companies that use cloud applications say their ability to innovate has been stifled by problems with app integration. Overall, 36% say they have a problem integrating withother enterprise apps,while 26% say they have problems integrating with other cloud apps, with an overall 53% citing integration as a problem (clearly, some enterprises fall into both of the above categories).

On top of this, 83% say they have been prevented from getting the best out of the apps their department use because of integration issues, while inflexibilityand the inability to customize apps for specificuse-cases was cited as a problem by33% of users.

A final problem in this respect, and cited by 20% of cloud app users is that the apps they are using cannot be used on mobile devices. Even worse, of those thatare not happy with the mobile possibilities of their cloud apps, 30% of sales people -- a group that tends to spend more time outside the enterprise than any other group -- said they were disappointed with the mobile possibilities.

Learning Opportunities

4. Abandoned cloud apps

Ultimately, this has forced 1 out of 2 current cloud adopters(48%) to abandon the use of at least one cloud app in the past three years with most of them saying they have abandoned at least one app a year during this time.

This behaviour was noted across all departments with managing directors, CEO and enterprise owners among the most aware of this problem. For cloud vendors, in this respect, it is worth noting that these three categories are responsible for buying and investing.

Cloud Apps Integration

In response to these findings, most enterprises (81%) of companies say that they think that the integration of cloud applications with each other and with other enterprise software is a priority, a figure that rises to 88% across those thatare already using cloud apps, and even 65% among those that do not.

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By discipline, those in sales, marketingand customer services or customer relationship management (CRM) roles see integrations as the way forward (50%) -- a finding that its completely logical in given the need to feed data into as manysales channels as possible. This is particularly true of those who are in customer facing roles.

Cloud strategies

The silver lining here is that of all those interviewed, irrespective of their cloud adoption status, 53% of organisations have an overall cloud strategy aligned with the strategic direction of the business that has been discussed and approved atC-level.

Of those that already use cloud apps, 67% say they have a strategy in place. Of those that don’t, 17% say they have a strategy. The prevalence of such formal strategies is higher in companies with multiple departments using cloud apps, rather than just a single department.

Overall, then, the cloud picture painted in this report is one where the cloud is important for a large number of enterprises who, while developing their cloud deployments and presence, have yet to assess how this is impacting on their existing infrastructure.

There is a lot more in this report to chew over, especially for those enterprises that are currently using cloud apps.