Mark Furr, the founder of LAN Scape Solutions Productivity Partners, a Microsoft Partner, recently spoke to Small Business Trends about using cloud-based technology both to launch his business and to help clients improve productivity.
A former Microsoft employee who worked with enterprise companies in the Memphis area, Furr started his company a year ago because he saw that many companies had a need for assistance in transitioning to the Microsoft Productivity stack.
“I saw a great opportunity to help organizations embrace the cloud. Not only large enterprise customers, but small and medium companies as well. We develop collaboration and productivity competencies to help them work without boundaries in this new modern workplace,” Furr said.
With a network of partners, LAN Scape’s reach goes far beyond Memphis, to offices in Indiana, California, Canada and even overseas in India and the UK.
“We embrace the working out loud mentality that I learned in my years at Microsoft. By providing a robust productivity platform, you can connect the best people, regardless of geography, and give them the ability to work from anywhere but be productive and collaborative. Our company is based on that,” Furr said. “We really do practice what we preach.”
Inhibitors to Cloud Transition
Among clients, there can be some skepticism of cloud technology around two issues — the need for very technical IT resources and protecting intellectual property.
“A lot of what we do is educate business users to take more ownership of their solutions and help drive the prioritization of their efforts. Many times we can show the immediate ROI (return on investment) from the organization undertaking some of these cloud initiatives,” he added.
“Some of the areas where we see some resistance is in financial services and healthcare. Due to the nature of those industries, they have tended to be a little bit slower to adopt because of the lack of understanding of the cloud,” Furr said. “Many times organizations think that the cloud is less secure.”
That is not the case, according to Furr. “The cloud actually enables businesses to better protect proprietary information from loss or theft and also ensures business continuity.”
Furr gave an example of a customer who needed to provide remote access to customer data but was concerned about retaining that data when key sales personnel leave the company. “The cloud provides easy access to data while providing data loss prevention.”
“In everything we do, we believe in creating experiences that inspire and empower every employee to work without boundaries and work in a way that promotes open knowledge sharing. Siloed knowledge about company data and processes can often be a single point of failure. The key is to ensure that your company’s intellectual property is documented and retained. One of the biggest risks are those subject matter experts that retain all that company knowledge in their heads and nothing is ever written down or documented.”
Time and Cost, Variables in Transition Process
Furr said the time and cost of transitioning to the cloud varies with the needs of the business.
“We take the approach of measure twice and cut once.” His company takes clients through a five-step process.
“We asses the current business environment from an operational, change management, and cultural perspective. This helps us to understand key drivers to adoption. Then we prioritize those drivers to create an adoption strategy based on greatest potential impact. It is common for organizations to have constraints on resources, time and staff, but it is important to consider the amount of change that can be tolerated based on other initiatives. Selecting the right project at the right time is critical.”
When asked about the cost of transitioning Furr explained “That also depends on the complexity of the services needed and the number of resources the customer is willing to dedicate. We have some customers that want the entire project outsourced and others that want to be heavily involved. Projects that involve a large organizational change component are often more expensive due to the prescriptive nature of that kind of a service engagement. Its more than just installing the software. “
Best Place to Start With Cloud Transition
According to Furr, the best place for a business to begin transitioning to the cloud really depends on the individual business and its needs. Companies should consider aging systems, net new projects or processes, and any initiative that has a strong internal champion.
One possibility would be “if there are servers that require an upgrade or are reaching end of support. That’s an opportunity where you can move that workload to the cloud with great agility.”
There may be other examples where the cloud can augment existing processes.
“One instance may be enterprise social, if you have no existing platform today. That could be a net new project that adds immediate value without heavy upfront investment. I have seen companies successfully use this type of platform to enhance engagement and adoption of large institutional change.” Furr said.
“Because of the fact that it is not displacing an existing technology, it can provide immediate innovation.”
Being a company that takes a unique approach to helping clients make the cloud work for them is something Furr is proud to do. “We focus on onboarding and adoption of technology in order to ensure a really good end user experience,” he said.
As for the future? According to Furr, “It’s about creating those great experiences. Architecting those experiences is where we love to spend our time. That’s really who we are, that’s what we enjoy doing. We have enjoyed designing experiences that help organizations be more productive and collaborative. While the technology may change, we remain focused on standing up solutions that empower employees to do their best work.”