Cloud’s ‘Project Fear’ Problem (and how to beat it!)

There can be no dispute that cloud technology is a positive enabler for business. The evidence is everywhere. Organisations large and small are reaping the benefits of cloud applications and infrastructures. Benefits that are accelerating in variety and volume as cloud technology matures.

Choosing cloud is a positive step, but that doesn’t stop some decision makers being driven by fear. The opportunities and rewards of more agile working, greater productivity and happier users are unmistakably positive. But some seek to twist this into negative motivation along the lines of “your business is in trouble if you don’t start your cloud adoption now.”

Is someone telling you to be afraid?

Paying attention to any kind of advice is an exercise in trust.

This is a major issue because almost all business decision makers rely on expert guidance when it comes to technology. Sources of guidance invariably take the form of independent, trusted advisors. Each has an important and responsible role to play.

The reality is that trusted advisors don’t dispense their advice out of the goodness of their hearts – they exist to make money. And while many advocate for their customers’ best interests because they see this as central to their integrity, market reputation and long-term commercial success, others are less scrupulous.

You can tell the difference by which are most proactive in selling positivity versus negativity. Opportunity versus fear. Some will focus you upon your potential for improvement, others toward the darkness of failing to do what they propose is best for you.

Selling Project Fear

One sector where negativity seems rife is regulatory compliance. It’s the ultimate in “do this now, or face the consequences.” Here, accentuating fear is almost forgivable. But not quite. There is a significant difference between an expert consultant who advises you to embrace positive new cultural attitudes surrounding something like GDPR (even when it costs little or nothing to implement), and one that sells you an expensive new security solution you may not need for fear of fines and court action. Read more about the path we took here.

In a broader sense, selling fear works well because people naturally dislike the idea of being left behind, isolated or later regretting how they failed to go along with the wisdom of the crowd.

On the other hand, ‘Project Fear’ cares very little for innovation, opportunity, leadership or entrepreneurialism.

We at NFON say that cloud technology is very different to GDPR compliance, or preparing for the Y2K bug. Cloud is unlike anything else in technology. The same rules don’t apply.

Cloud disillusion forecast

An article in UC Today put forward the suggestion that the current ‘flight to cloud’ among businesses would soon reach a peak before slumping and then recovering in several years’ time. According to the cloud consultancy practice behind the piece, cloud adoption is simply following its trajectory along Gartner’s well-trodden ‘hype cycle’ path. Specifically, having witnessed the “technology trigger”, the much-anticipated “peak of inflated expectations” is unlikely to be far away, soon to be followed by the inevitable “trough of disillusionment”. Apparently, the good news is that the “slope of enlightenment”, and the “plateau of productivity” might begin as soon as 2022.

Nobody, it seems, asked Gartner if that’s what they think will happen to cloud. But it’s an interesting hypothesis all the same.

Our problem with this concept is not merely its negativity. Cloud is completely different to the thousands of other technologies that undoubtedly do fit within the hype cycle model. Here’s why:

  • Unlike traditional IT solutions, cloud disillusionment is already happening in parallel to adoption and demand. It’s called living in a beta world where everything digital is software and it’s all being constantly developed and improved. It isn’t sequential, creating peaks and troughs or getting in the way of progress.
  • Competition is extraordinary, both in terms of cloud providers optimising their products, user experiences and pricing, but also acting as a catalyst for adopters to use cloud to innovate and keep pace with their competition. All this points towards strong continuing cloud uptake.
  • Cloud represents a paradigm shift akin to swapping horses for cars, canals for railroads and dial-up for fibre-optic Gigabit. It is a step-change; a tear-up-the-rulebook moment. It doesn’t fit the mould.
  • This whole argument is two years too late. By anyone’s measure, cloud is somewhere up the slope of enlightenment and some way off plateauing any time soon. The fact that we haven’t seen demand fall off yet shouldn’t automatically signify that cloud is still early in its adoption phase.

Be positive. Everything is going to be OK. Cloud is a bright future, and it’s a future that we’re already 10 years through.

Most of all, keep relying on your trusted advisors. Just make sure they are worthy of your trust.

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