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The cloud is often touted as the solution to so many IT problems, or if nothing else, the future of IT. While these statements may only be slightly exaggeratory, more and more companies are getting disillusioned by their cloud experiences. New research is beginning to find reasons why many company's ROI isn't what it should be and finds that how IT thinks about the cloud plays a powerful role.

Cloud Management

It is entirely the fate of IT managers these days to be forced into adopting solutions that they may only slightly understand. Such is the case with many IT departments and cloud computing, a technology so hot right now that failing to enter into the cloud is likely to put a company at a disadvantage.

The reality, however, is that simply adopting a cloud solution is far from enough. New research shows that many companies that are struggling to get ROI from their cloud solutions are flailing because of a lack of management on the back end.

A new study by Bluewolf, called "The State of Salesforce 2012-2013 Annual Review," looked at 300 Salesforce users to see how they were progressing with the product. According to this IT Pro article, the results showed that while the cloud had a ton of benefits to offer companies, up to 80 percent of companies are leaving money on the table due to the lack of a definitive cloud strategy.

The problem is that so many companies look at the cloud as a destination. IT managers focus on getting approval for the expenditures while IT staffs work on getting the data ready for the move. When it comes time to flip the switch and launch the cloud-based systems, there is almost a finish-line feeling. But that's the last thing an IT department should be feeling when launching a cloud solution.

Maximizing the Cloud

Don't think of the cloud as some destination for your company to continue to grow. Think of it more like a tool that you have to manage. The cloud is an ever-changing beast, and only companies who are invested enough, both physically and mentally, to understand those changes as they happen will be poised to maximize their benefit from the cloud.

As this Forbes article points out, many companies find that after stepping into the cloud, the generic cloud solutions no longer suit their needs. This is causing an explosion of specialized clouds focused on certain industries or on solving certain problems.

IT managers need to understand the changing landscape of the cloud and to work each day to perfect the solution that their company has adopted. This includes not only providing strong, active management of the existing solution, but understanding which new innovations will solve the issues that arise with that solution. This kind of perseverance is especially important at midsize companies, who don't have the budget or staff to experiment with a whole host of cloud-based solutions.

The real goal is to not think of the cloud as a finish line, as something to be achieved. Think of it as just another tool to bring value to both the company and its customers. As with all tools, there needs to be a plan in place for using it and constant maintenance to ensure that it is running right. Just accomplishing these simple things could easily be the difference between maximizing your cloud computing solution and regretting making the jump in the first place.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us onFacebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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