Interview: Jardine Lloyd Thompson CIO Ian Cohen on cloud, BYO computing and social media...
Cloud computing is often sold as a way for companies to cut their tech bill by only paying for the IT they use.
Veteran IT chief Ian Cohen has other ideas - telling silicon.com that any company looking at moving to cloud computing purely as a way of saving money should "forget it".
Cohen is speaking from experience. As group CIO of Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) he is helping the global risk management and insurance broker to make greater use of cloud-based services, such as Salesforce.com's CRM platform.
When businesses shift to cloud services, the oft-talked-about savings won't last, Cohen said, as any reduction in cost or overheads is quickly swallowed up by fresh demand for IT services.
"If you go into cloud thinking you will save money, forget it. What invariably happens is that you create more efficiency and headroom. However, demand that previously could not be met can now be enacted and thus your activities simply increase to fill the available resources - be that time, people or infrastructure," he told silicon.com at Salesforce's recent Cloudforce conference in London.
"People will be using your systems to do more. That's the killer sell as to why people should be looking at cloud: the ability to flex your enterprise into a more extensible model at light speed."
Cohen cautioned that shifting operations to the cloud is not straightforward for any business - there will always be resistance and challenges, particularly for a heavily regulated business such as JLT.
"It's early days. We are working around some of the issues with some of the naysayers and a lot of it is around security and audit, all the usual cloud stuff," Cohen said. "A lot of concerns are still around data location, traceability and auditability. It's still a challenge if an auditor comes in and simply asks, 'Where is the data? Let me see it'.
"We are a regulated business so we have to be more prudent than some other organisations but that doesn't mean we can ignore cloud technologies and the opportunities they offer."
One of JLT's largest cloud computing projects involves the integration of Salesforce.com's cloud-based CRM system with a contact centre operation. Contact centre systems will record information on each interaction that JLT has with its clients, irrespective of the channel they use, and this information will help JLT staff to determine what went right and wrong with each interaction.
"By capturing information about each interaction in a consistent fashion, JLT staff can better understand the complete client relationship - even those interactions that did not result in successful new or incremental business - and understand why," Cohen said.
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