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There’s a Storm Brewing in the Cloud

For the past ten years there’s been a steady drumbeat of technological progress. We’re all moving to the cloud and everything will be faster, better, and easier! Whether as consumers or employees, this new truism is pervasive and often equated with innovation, modernity, security, and scalability.

So onward we rushed toward technology, toward “the cloud,” toward SaaS and self-service. Anything involving tech or automation was good. Don’t agree? Move aside, neophyte. We’re strapped to a rocketship toward the future.

But wait a minute. Although we’re certainly all in on cloud technology and SaaS, we’re feeling some incredibly significant rumbles and seeing some cracks in the system. This magical cloud isn’t so perfect after all. In fact, there’s a real storm brewing.

So what the heck is going on? Thankfully, we don’t need a meteorologist to find out. Instead, we need MUCH more transparency about how to thrive in this new world order. Over the next few weeks, Kimberly Carroll and I will dive deeper into the problems we see in the cloud, and potential changes both providers and clients can start making now. Our hope and objective? Realistic expectations, smoother relationships, improved technology, and a better experience for every single employee.

The Cloud Needs More Communication

The seed for this idea started over dinner. A Fortune 1000 senior executive was passionately conveying the issues she was having with a SaaS provider. Her struggle was real, and despite the company’s size, the executive escalations, and the prominence of her brand, she was unable to get attention or assistance from the provider. We stepped in as a third-party advisor, and poof — the provider assigned a team, executive sponsors emerged, and issues were suddenly addressed.

But here’s the rub — you should NOT have to hire a consulting firm, or take your problems up the chain, to get a call back from your SaaS provider.

It’s a situation I’ve dealt with countless times. SaaS providers and their customers communicate very well during the initial buying and implementation period. But after that, communication breaks down. No one is actively governing the relationship on either side, and when issues come up, they blow up. Fast.

A provider-client marriage is exactly that — a marriage. And there’s a reason people say that communication is the key to every successful marriage. If you and your spouse stopped communicating, the marriage would be miserable. And if you never establish a foundation of communication, it’s not surprising that divorce, in many cases, is imminent.

My advice? Remember that the purchase decision is just the wedding. And although the honeymoon of the implementation can be all-encompassing, create space and time to establish good governance based upon a sustainable relationship management model. This ensures that when things go wrong (and they will), a process exists — with real humans — to care for issues and escalations.

The promise of the cloud was that we’d all have seamless, self-service technology. But in reality, the people relationships behind the technology are more important than ever.

In our next posts, we’ll share advice specifically for SaaS providers and their clients. We hope to help you start building better relationships and a better way to work.

With over 25 years of experience, Mark Stelzner has worked for organizations of every size and vertical. He has spent his career fostering relationships through attention to detail, natural curiosity, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

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