Experts and vendors may tout the inevitability of moving strategic business processes to the cloud, but the fact remains that many companies still hesitate to uproot their on-premise systems and put their full faith in cloud computing.

For some, this reticence is rooted in a fear of the unknown that is to be expected in any major technology shift. For others, the cloud still throws up barriers to entry that are deemed unacceptable, even if they may ultimately prove unfounded. And some companies harbor a legitimate fear that moving too quickly to the cloud will recreate the same problems that bedeviled the on-premise world.

Common cloud worries

While there is a solid consensus that the cloud portends significant improvements in such areas as employee productivity, customer support and, ultimately, innovation, what is needed is a combination of market education and best practices that can help all companies achieve a soft landing in what will prove to be a major cultural and technology shift.

One issue, centered around the security and safety of data in the cloud, needs to be taken off the table, no matter how many may still voice concerns. While there is the perception that safety is sacrificed in the move to the cloud, the reality is the opposite: With hackers prowling corporate systems in increasing numbers, the security teams deployed by cloud providers are more skilled and better equipped than most standalone companies could ever achieve on their own.

Also working against the cloud is the myth that companies shifting to the cloud will have problems finding the personnel needed to manage that transition. This can be true initially on the business process side — shifting to the cloud can require a significant change in business processes and user experiences as a company moves off its older, on-premise systems. New skills are needed to navigate the business process changes, and meet new requirements such as improved customer experiences and support for new lines of business.

Change is good

Those changes are about the impact of the business transformation that comes with moving to the cloud. On the technology side, the initial move to the cloud does require technical expertise that isn’t necessarily available in-house. Once the shift has taken place, however, the requirements for in-house technical expertise typically diminish significantly. The move to the cloud leads to a smaller on-premise IT footprint, and that can mean a reduction in technical headcount.

But even as traditional skill requirements are retired, expertise in managing the new cloud environments is becoming essential. A new set of skills — how to manage a multi-cloud environment, how to manage the integration between the cloud and the on-premise world, how to manage big data opportunities and how to manage the new security requirements of the cloud, to name a few — will spur new hiring and breathe new life into the IT department.

Like all major innovations, moving to the cloud won’t happen without some disruption, but the net gains in business functionality and IT efficiency will open up new opportunities for companies and their employees. The cloud is where innovation can happen faster and more effectively than ever before. And the time to start is now.