The good thing about cloud computing is that it is inherently more flexible, lighter on upfront Capital Expenditure (CapEx) requirements, infinitely (well, in theory) expandable, more easily retractable (when less IT is needed) and it's often more easily custom-tuned to be the specific 'instance' of computing power that a customer needs. That's the good news. The bad thing about cloud computing is that it involves change. For all the upbeat talk and hyperbole surrounding so-called digital transformation, bringing new Industry 4.0 automation to bear inside a business means changing the way users interact with applications, systems, processes and the new cloud-centric supporting data fabric(s) that firms are attempting to steer their business with.
In simple terms, user adoption in the shiny new world of cloud computing is not a given. If you build it, they will not necessarily come. There's no I in cloud project team German softwarehaus SAP is attempting to address an element of the problem here depicted with its latest 'Learning Hub' software releases. The firm points out that business project teams are often assembled (especially for cloud implementations) that are typically composed of experts from different lines of business. These teams are responsible for preparing, realizing and deploying cloud solutions, as well as streamlining the process of business user adoption. If we accept this suggestion, we can see that not only do people have to start using new technology and bringing it online, they also have to work in new relationships across different Line of Business streams. The potential for cloud haters is, surely, escalating in these types of environments. “People are at the core of every successful digital transformation,” said Bernd Welz, executive vice president and chief knowledge officer for products and innovation at SAP. “We are seeing an increasing number of businesses invest in project teams made up of employees with a variety of skills to ensure a streamlined implementation of digital solutions. It is important that these individuals are provided with resources and learning opportunities tailored to their unique needs and to their unique projects.” User feedback, user adoption In terms of actual products then, SAP has recently tabled SAP Learning Hub project team editions for its Ariba software line and for its for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The editions are a direct response to user feedback from a pilot program of SAP Learning Hub, professional edition. In the mix here are social and collaborative tools plus what are said to be 'hundreds' of pieces of educational content specific to SAP's Ariba and SAP S/4HANA Cloud products. "Project team members are given the option to complete individual learning assignments along the path to mastery of SAP Ariba solutions or SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Or they can follow a Learning Journey interactive guide in its entirety. Through interactive virtual spaces, project team members can exchange insights with their peers and tap into resources such as video tutorials and best-practice documentation. SAP Learning Rooms give them the chance to collaborate with SAP experts at every stage of their implementation project for a cloud solution from SAP," said the company, in a canned press statement. The firm is also championing self-study among project teams. SAP likes to call people that study 'learners' rather than students, which is either insightful directness or cheesy labelling, make your own mind up. Either way these 'people' learning cloud will get access to resources such as e-books, e-learning courses, user enablement training materials, templates and quick reference guides that are supposed to help accelerate adoption and solution usage. Is cloud that tough? So is it really that tough to learn new cloud-related skills? Clearly it is otherwise we wouldn't see SAP putting effort into this space and other cloud players working so hard to provide technologies in what tends to get referred to as the 'managed cloud' space. Ultimately, for now, cloud will necessitate change and people don't like that because a) they think their job function might be at risk and b) quite simply, it's change. Will we still be having this conversation in a decade's time when the cloud model is more deeply entrenched and well-established? Absolutely we will, there's a whole next-generation of Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing to have to get used to yet. There's no I in team or in cloud project team, but at least there's one in AI.