My company is looking at some cloud solutions at the moment including MS Office 365 and CRM solutions like Dynamics and Salesforce, so your blog made interesting reading. I was working through the check boxes of the potential risks and problem areas you had highlighted, including the rise in domination of a few mega-companies such as Google and Amazon; data security and data transmission. Another item that came to mind was the physical security of the data centres themselves. Understandably data concentrated in such volumes makes a target for hackers, however the physical infrastructure in support of the data centres such as power grids might also be considered a target for terrorists or the like. So in addition to the cultural issues you highlighted (such as language, privacy standards and legislation); there could also be an element of geo-political stability to be considered as well. In the financial services sector regulators such as APRA have prescriptive standards around these sorts of implementations.
You mentioned that many of the benefits of moving to the cloud such as lower cost, reduced IT management effort and access and availability. I wondered if you had considered the democratisation effect that this technology is having on small to medium enterprise? I’m not sure which came first, the saturation of the large enterprise market with infrastructure heavy ERP and CRM solutions (and therefore the need for vendors to look for other markets); or the rise of the cloud-based options (making otherwise expensive options more available to smaller businesses). But I think this has resulted in a real shift for companies and vendors alike. Even 3 years ago the company I am working with (< 150 people) could not have considered a solution like Salesforce as the licensing cost model would have been prohibitive. Now these are options that are worth consideration. I think this is the point the McKinsey 2016 report was making about the changing nature of globalisation, once the purview of governments and multinational corporations, now “SMEs can become micro-multinationals in their own right and start-ups can be “Born global” (McKinsey, 2016 pg. 23).