Kicking and Screaming – When Your Clients Won’t Move to the Cloud – Part 1

By Bryan Soltis in Development
·5 min read

Every parent has endured the wrath of a stubborn child forced to do something they don’t want to do. Sure, go ahead. Try and get them to eat those vegetables when there’s a plate of cookies on the table. Much like those miniature mules, digital agencies often have encountered a client that, for whatever reason, will not move to the cloud. But why? 

Why indeed! Nothing can seem to sway them in their thinking when it comes to transitioning their data. In this article, I’ll shed a little light on the matter to explain what drives them, what they are concerned about, and what’s standing in their way to the cloud.

Close your eyes. Imagine you’re standing in the rain. It’s freezing. Cars are whizzing by. And your dog is just staring at you, refusing to complete his end of the agreement for your late night “outing”. Now think about that one client. You know the one. The one that, despite your magnificent powers of persuasion, is refusing to consider the cloud for their solution.

It’s a frustrating scenario, and one that could be seemingly avoided. You know the cloud is a great platform. Experts know it’s a great platform. Scores of billboards at airports around the world show it’s a great platform. So, what’s up with your client? 

Let’s Look Closer


The first step in unravelling this mystery is to figure out what’s at the core. Because every industry and business are different, the reasons for their hesitation may vary. From fear to misunderstanding, some clients are never able to see the value in moving their applications. For a vendor, solving this corporate Rubik’s cube means putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their individual circumstances.

Here are some common reasons why your clients may be less than enthusiastic about the cloud.

They Don’t Understand It

Throughout history, a lack of knowledge has crashed thousands of ships. Without an understanding of the terrain, any expedition can easily end up lost in the woods. When it comes to the cloud, there is still an alarming amount of misconceptions among certain industries. Typically, these are more “brick and mortar” establishments, where the perception is that all business is done within their walls. (Think healthcare, flower shops, shoe repair, etc.). For these companies, the cloud is a vast unknown land, one of which deters them from ever venturing out to explore. They don’t understand what commoditized computing is and, more importantly, how they could benefit from it.

They’re Scared

Going along with a lack of understanding is fear. Sometimes fear is a good thing. Our ancestors were smart enough to trust their fears of large, pointy-teethed animals and reptiles, which led to their survival. On the other side, 80s movies have taught us that fearing small aliens with Speak-N-Spell means you may miss out on some sweet flying-bicycle action.

Relying on their instincts, many companies haven’t adopted the cloud because they think it means doom and gloom for aspects of the business. They are looking out for their revenue and security by (from their perspective) staying cautious. They may think that their data’s not safe, or that they’ll have less access than their current environment. Whatever it is, it may be enough to send them running for the hills when the topic of the cloud comes waltzing into town.

Their Data Has Restrictions

If you’re ever tried to stroll into a government office and start talking to them about the cloud, you'll know it’s a tough sell. Seeing how their data is somewhat important to their very existence, these municipal and federal agencies guard their information closely. This means they often have strict regulations on where and how their systems can function. And as red-shoed farm-girls have always said, "There’s no place like home.”

Their Business Will Suffer

This is a tough one. For companies that have architectured their services around hands-on interaction with their customers, moving to the cloud is a challenge. If a company has several consultants that travel onsite to customers to work on their hardware, having those systems virtualized means a lot of unused plane tickets. Rethinking an entire business model is a daunting task that could derail any effort to move to the cloud.

They Can’t Agree Internally

The venerable minefield that is corporate spending is a tricky one to navigate. Marketing wants a new site. IT wants to control hardware purchased. HR just wants people to clean out the fridge. How companies function internally can have a significant impact on their ability to shift platforms, as the nails-on-the-chalkboard phrase “Who’s budget is this going to come out of?” always makes an appearance. These organizations often have blurred lines between divisions, making any company-wide decision more challenging than herding cats. In a pool. During a Sharknado.

They Have Too Much Invested in On-premise

If the client just dropped a few million to build out their data center, they’re not going to be too keen on moving their systems and leaving that hardware idle (unless they are open to an epic Quake server). Depending on their IT-spending cycle, they may be forced to stay where they are until it makes business sense to transition. If they’re locked into their current platform or vendor, they won’t be able to brush those costs under the carpet and move everything to the cloud.

They’re Too Busy

Even if a client gets the what and the why of it all, they may just be too overloaded to take on a migration. Moving systems can be a big task, especially if a team needs be trained along the way. The daunting task of upending their entire business may be on hold until they get more staff photos on their site.

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Your Move, Baxter

Now that you have an idea about the questions you need to ask, it’s time to give your eyes a break. Hopefully, you’ve already started thinking about what may be stopping your clients from getting their cloud on. You’ll need to ask some probing questions, but there’s always a reason somebody doesn’t want to do something. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll give you my take on how to deal with these situations and getting them to come around. Until next time!

If you have other scenarios where a client was cloud-adverse, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

By Bryan Soltis in Development
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