Assessing the socio-technical impacts of cloud computing in New Zealand organisations: an exploratory study
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The adoption of cloud based technologies ensures a fundamental shift in the stipulation of resources within organisations. This research studies the socio-technical impact of migrating to cloud technologies and its effects on the organisational culture, people and their relationships and work performance. The following two questions form the basis of this research: (a) what are the key factors which affect cloud adoption in NZ organisations? and (b) what impact on work practices have been noted when cloud technologies are adopted by organisations? Objective: The main objective was to discover the theoretic attributes from grounded interview data that confirm, refute, or extend the principles and their applications suitable for cloud migration factors and impact. Methodology: The research design included qualitative research using grounded theory (GT) processes. Twelve interviews were conducted with employees working in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand (NZ). Participants were selected based on purposive sampling as the primary technique and a secondary sampling technique known as snowball. Data Gathering and Analysis: The transcribed interviews were analysed in three stages: using open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. NVivo software was used to carry out the three coding processes. Reflective memos and constant comparative analysis were used to ensure reliability. Conditional Relationship Guideline (CRG) and Reflective Coding Matrix (RCM) were used as analytical tools to interlink factors through cloud adoption practices. Findings: Analysis of participants’ interview data established and extended the current practices of the factors which drive cloud migration and its impact and offered additional suggestions for more effective practical applications. Using the grounded theory approach, the interview data were categorised into sixteen main categories. Then, the sixteen categories were divided into two abstract themes: cloud adoption factors and impact of cloud adoption on work practices, where the prior affects the latter. The findings revealed eight categories belonging to the first theme of factors. They were: business continuity, convenience, cost effectiveness, data centres, free from maintaining IT Infrastructure, Cloud Service Provider (CSP) reputation, speed, and suitability. The following eight categories belonged to the second theme of impact: best practices create awareness of policies and service-level agreements (SLAs), improved collaboration, job losses, more time for IT managers to strategise, loss of productivity and disturbances due to outages by provider, high degree of satisfaction with CSP, security concerns for business-critical data and skill upgrade. Contribution: The research findings have important implications for academia and great value to the decision makers such as managers and senior executives, CSPs and IT staff in an organisation, in terms of formulating better strategies for cloud computing adoption. For CSPs, using the research model in this study can assist in increasing their understanding of why some organisations choose to adopt cloud computing services and what implications are felt in the workplace. Also, CSPs may need to improve their interaction with organisations in terms of understanding and meeting SLAs. Conclusions: The emergence of sixteen categories from the two core themes, cloud adoption factors and impact of cloud migration on work practices is the principal finding. The findings of the research illustrate the challenges that decision-makers and employees face when assessing the practicability of adopting of cloud computing within their organisations; they also describe a ‘conceptual socio-technical cloud strategy framework’ to support cloud adoption in organisations.