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Despite all the hype about “cloud” in recent years, most IT providers and integrators still seem to be skirting around the edges of the most important opportunity for their clients.

There’s something to be gained from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications which plug gaps in the functionality of your in-house IT. And yes, there can be savings from the careful adoption of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), either to handle processing peaks or in support of ad hoc activities like analytics, testing or events management.

But by-far the most compelling way to extract value from “cloud” is much more fundamental and disruptive: Organisations seeking maximum efficiency and agility should release their non-differentiating business functions, and source them instead as utilities from shared-services providers.

Organisations should keep a tight grip on only that small nucleus of functions which contributes to their differentiated market position. The bits which form the soul of the business, distinguishing it from other similar organisations.

In competitive markets, the most successful companies will be those which focus their time, energy and resources much more closely on that nucleus, confident that other operations can be efficiently managed and continuously optimised by specialist providers who can also scale quickly to match demand.

Adoption challenges

The most urgent task is to determine which are the differentiating functions. Unfortunately the usual pattern is that everyone thinks they’re different, so you’ll need a method which is more objective than simply asking each of your teams for their opinion. So why not beat the rush, and act now?

The second priority is to determine with whom you’re willing to share services. Will it be:

  • Peers - specified organisations in your industry?
  • Partners – specified suppliers, collaborators or customers?
  • Public - unspecified organisations, in a public cloud?

Each option has its own pros and cons, but emotional and cultural factors often dominate the debate.

Advice is at hand

CGI’s CIO Advisory practice has extensive experience working with clients to address these challenges.

We understand the marketplace of cloud and business process providers, and the possibilities they present. We recognise that the propensity to externalise a business function depends heavily upon the specifics of the individual organisation, so we’ve already modelled these propensities for many industries, to give you a head-start.

We’re uncompromising, and can cast an independent eye over your strategic plans, and the ways CIOs propose to support them. And we’re realistic, so we’ll plan a sequence of steps which take account of realities such as contractual commitments, stakeholder attitudes and employee engagement.

If security becomes a concern in your shared services future, you’ll be comforted to know that our advisors are backed by the UK’s largest team of CESG security specialists.

We’re driven to help our clients realise an optimal portfolio of IT-enabled investments, where innovation helps to produce the greatest returns with the least risk. If you share this vision then please get in touch.