The Great Cloud Migration

The Great Cloud Migration

The benefits of Cloud can hardly be overstated. However, a large number of organisations still rely on on -premise HR / Talent solutions. If you're part of this latter majority, it's time to accelerate to your migration plans... Or face extinction.

The “Cloud” has been a hot topic in recent years, and it shows no sign of stopping, but how are businesses embracing and adopting the technology? What is holding them back? And what is to come in the future?

What is the “Cloud”?

The term “Cloud” has been batted around  a lot but research  suggests that many of us are unable to clearly define what the Cloud actually is. Firstly, it is important to recognise that the Cloud is not a physical thing. The Cloud is a network of servers using computing power to run applications or  “deliver a service” 1. This basically means that we can use software on our computers but not use up any data in our computers because it’s being stored in somebody else’s servers.

The Cloud is like no other technology platform, it is anticipated that it will be revolutionary on many fronts.

When did it emerge?

Cloud computing has evolved through a number of phases, dating back as far as the 1950’s when mainframes were so big they took up  entire rooms. However, despite some early advances the internet didn’t feature enough bandwidth to make the Cloud available to the masses until the 90’s.1 The Cloud arrived on the scene in 1999 and has snowballed since. led the way in the development of enterprise applications. In 2002, Amazon launched its own Cloud Computing Platform ‘Amazon Web Services’ which is still utilised today.

When did trends start?

In just a few short years, the Cloud has become inevitable. Research by PWC suggests that ¾ of HR Leaders are planning to have their Core HR function in the Cloud within 3 years, and other HR related processes are already there or on the way there. 2

The same research suggests that despite some of the transformational challenges presented by these projects, leaders are not shying away. Instead they are moving boldly to meet user demands and create value. More than two thirds of respondents have at least some HR applications in the Cloud. 2

Although there are multiple motivations behind a company’s migration to the Cloud, we cannot ignore the impact a multi-generational workforce is having.  Employers now could have employees ranging from 18 to 80 in the workplace, Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Having a multi-generational workforce presents its own challenges, one of which is the varied preferences, particularly in HR related matters i.e. Training, The CIPD’s Tapping into Talent report found that Generation X and Millennials placed greater emphasis on development generally and preferred to learn independently using computer based training, whereas Baby Boomers and Veterans preferred more traditional classroom or paper based-training. 3

Many HR software companies have linked these varied preferences with the growth of familiarity with smartphone’s and other technological advances e.g. smart TV’s, which have infiltrated the lives of ordinary people, changing expectations. They are creating the conditions to help our workforces thrive. Acknowledging the fact that technology has penetrated all aspects of our lives in one way or another, the trend to move toward mobile and having easily accessible data wherever and whenever is becoming increasingly more present in the workplace.

In the HR world, the Cloud has made it possible to develop ‘Build for Cloud apps’, where companies developed software with mobile at the forefront of their development. Products like these are consumer-like in ease of use, very inexpensive to buy and the market for this is quite strong already. HR Software in the Cloud sky rocketed when new companies discovered they could build from the success of their predecessors, and start their products with mobile and the Cloud rather than build traditional talent suites.  

So if the Cloud is so great, why haven’t we all joined?

Studies show that investment in Cloud technology is steadily rising. With the development of Hybrid Clouds and with the ease of setting up and supporting a private Cloud, research published on Computer Weekly found that in 2016 Hybrid Cloud adoption grew from 58% to 71%.4 However many CIO’s and Directors are still sceptical that the Cloud does not deal with all their issues or answer all of their questions.  

The main issues preventing many from moving to the Cloud are:

  • Security Risks – How secure is the Cloud?
  • Lack of Knowledge – Do we know enough about the Cloud?
  • Lack of Expertise – Do I have enough internal expertise to support it?
  • Legacy Application Support – Some programs we use aren’t on the Cloud?
  • Noisy Neighbours – The Cloud is shared, what assurances are there that our service won’t be disrupted?
  • Availability and Reliability- If it goes down who do we call?
  • Database Access – How can you guarantee that the access will be enough?
  • Waiting for the safer path- a path with less risk, less change impact

However,  many IT professionals argue that Security is no longer the top Cloud challenge- lack of resource and expertise is now the #1 Cloud challenge. 4

When considering moving your Core HR/ payroll system to the cloud the main concerns were: 2

  • Ability to integrate with other on- premise or third party solutions 38%
  • Concerns over the security of critical HR data stored in the Cloud 36%
  • Not ready for the level of change management and process transformation the product may force 32%
  • Ability of the product to flex as our business needs change 29%
  • Ability to meet critical business requirements 26%
  • Budgetary concerns 22%

What can the Cloud do for me?

The Cloud has taken many twists and turns on its route to maturity. Many businesses have enjoyed the business benefits that being part of the revolution has given them.

For CFO’s, the Cloud…

  • Reduces the overall cost of supporting in house infrastructure. The business decision to move to the Cloud is often financially motivated. Previously, companies had to buy their own hardware equipment, the value of which depreciated over time.
  • Provides peace of mind
  • Offers reduced complexity
  • Can allow more concentration on core business
  • Means you only pay for what you use

For IT, the Cloud…

  • Give access to the latest developments to stay ahead of the trend
  • Provides audit compliance
  • Is easy and quick to scale up or down
  • Provides unfettered access – with an internet connection- anywhere and everywhere
  • Allows you to operate faster roll outs of new apps
  • Enables streamlined processes

Finally, for HR benefits include …

  • Strong employee empowerment
  • Higher employee Engagement and motivation
  • HR Strategy becoming more of a priority

Ok, I’m sold, but am I ready?

In order to successfully migrate your HCM solutions to the Cloud, there are a few key things that should be in place to put you ahead of the curve.

How to accelerate your migration?

  • Before you launch your project, make certain that you have the level of sponsorship and support required to seriously challenge old ways of working.
  • Set the right expectations with all stakeholders about the capabilities of the software.
  • Recognise that embracing the Cloud is a journey, or new way of working rather than an end state destination.
  • Make sure you have thought about your longer term support model. For many systems Software updates occur multiple times a year now and the frequency and ways in which you rely on and communicate with your software vendor will be profoundly different.
  • Successful HR Technology transformation requires planning, proper investment to support the implementation and firm commitment to embracing the Cloud and all the change that comes with it.

What is the future beyond the cloud?

Cloud technology has revolutionised the way we interact in most aspects of life, so where is there to go now? The sky’s the limit! Many CIO’s are trying to predict the future of the Cloud and the possible utilisations that we can see in the future. Bernard Golden ( argues that “the battle of infrastructure is over, the battle of Applications is about to begin.” 5 For HR, this could mean that we will see some of the biggest innovations to date.