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BW Businessworld

Manage Workforce Via Cloud

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Today we are in the early days of cloud computing with organisations taking baby steps. But by 2020, one can expect IT to have transformed itself into a whole new avatar. The IT landscape will be drastically changed by then with cloud becoming an integral and permanent part of the enterprise computing infrastructure including organizational structures, roles, skills and operations.

With the increasing popularity of cloud over the past couple of years, Gartner reports that a number of business are facing the heat from their customers to switch to the cloud for their operations to improve business performance, and also to keep up with the trends of what their clients are using. It further states, 60 per cent of server workloads will be virtualised by 2014.

As business grows and the headcount increases, companies will need to take a relook at managing workplace operations. And with the workforce getting younger, old business operation methods have to be discarded. Manual and semi-automated processes will need to give way to standardised automated workflows in an increasingly global business environment. And when organisations want to tie in reduced total cost of ownership and paying for the services received, the cloud model reigns supreme.

Deployment of an application or solution can be explored in varied ways through cloud-based services. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs associated with IT solutions, but realigns some costs and reduces others. A Gartner report on top 10 strategic technologies states that cloud-based, "on-demand" enterprise solutions, which include cloud-based workforce management solutions, are in growing demand. Workforce management vendors will now need to differentiate themselves by optimising the cost implications of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS models. Market leaders like Kronos are setting the stage for such a shift through their Workforce Ready and Workforce SaaS offering.

The delivery model of SaaS for workforce management vendors, allows organisations to deploy workforce management products quickly and at ease, with minimal upfront investment.  As the vendor is responsible for maintaining all hardware and network infrastructure, including application performance and availability, these models reduces the strain on company’s own IT departments.

In addition, organisations can automatically update to the latest and advanced workforce management applications without having to perform expensive upgrades or purchase new software licenses.

Workforce management solutions provided via the cloud cater to web or mobile access to workforce management applications that help organisations significantly reduce their workforce costs. These applications can take advantage of cost efficiencies such as shared components, and may also embrace the on-demand infrastructure of a cloud to provide additional services when needed.

With the need for "anytime and anywhere" information demand increasing for mobile technologies, using cloud computing allows the user to access the information very easily at any place and at any time. It is predicted that by 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4:1 (Source: Gartner).

The cloud also spells greater accountability for the solution provider. The earlier handoff point at the time of deployment would now go missing. In terms of IT infrastructure and application support the customers would now look for a quicker turn-around-time. This would need a change in orientation for businesses – from product to services. Through subscriptions and support the revenue stream would become fluid and be governed by SLAs.

What worked yesterday, will not work today. The need for the cloud to make a transition is significant. From a mid-market company to a farmer, everyone would be able leverage technology. It’s a business need to transform in order to sustain. The game and the rules to play by will be undergoing a shift. And cloud, is the key to success in the future.

(Ashok Saxena is the Head, India Engineering Centre, Kronos)