The persisting crisis within the Italian manufacturing industry reflects the difficulties that domestic enterprises have encountered in adapting to the external changes that have affected the international economic environment over the past 20 years . The country was unprepared for globalisation and the technological changes that increased competitive pressures on a global scale . The main reasons behind such difficulties relate to a lack of innovation within the country in information and communication technology (ICT) [1-4].
A. Caldarelli • L. Ferri (*) • M. Maffei University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
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K. Corsi et al. (eds.), Reshaping Accounting and Management Control Systems,
Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation 20,
The dissemination of information systems is usually regarded as a crucial element to guarantee the fast data processing and circulation of information, which in turn favours the creation and maintenance of competitive advantage [4, 5]. Market pressure, cost optimisation and increased productivity appear to be the guidelines that firms adopt to ensure their survival. It seems necessary to adopt an ICT framework that can reduce (fixed and variable) administrative costs and ensure increased productivity while maintaining a flexible structure and enabling a rapid response to market needs [4-7].
According to practitioners, one technology with the potential to solve this problem could be cloud computing [8, 9]. Cloud computing is a distributed computing paradigm that enables access to virtualised resources, including computers, networks, storage, development platforms and applications . These resources can be unilaterally requested, provisioned and configured by the user with minimal interaction with the cloud provider. Furthermore, resources can be rapidly scaled up to meet the user’s needs, thus creating the illusion of infinite resources available at any time . Also, resource utilisation can be rapidly measured and controlled by customers because this technology is based on a pay-per-use model . With the support of important industry stakeholders (e.g. Google, Amazon, Microsoft), cloud computing is being widely adopted in different domains. Cloud services such as Google Mail or Dropbox have become everyday useful tools for millions of people. Many firms currently use cloud-based applications (i.e. Salesforce), and small and medium firms are embracing virtual infrastructures offered by cloud service providers (CSP) such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure . The advantages arising from adopting cloud computing are indubitable . According to the European Commission (2010) and to Microsoft (2011), this tool could provide many advantages, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Many authors have broadly identified the strengths associated with the use of cloud computing [13-18], investigating the advantages and disadvantages for firms arising from its adoption. They concluded that cloud computing can be a great opportunity, especially for SMEs; however, these authors identified the advantages and the disadvantages arising from cloud computing without providing any information about the decision-making process that pushes firms to adopt cloud computing and without examining the post-implementation effects to verify whether the expected advantages and disadvantages are confirmed. Therefore, we address these under-investigated issues by pursing the following two aims: (1) investigating the decision-making process of implementing cloud computing by highlighting the drivers and ICT requirements of SMEs and (2) examining the effects of the system 6 months after migration to the ICT system. To reach our aims, we use a multiple case study method. This method allows us to study the information systems in the field, helping us to understand the complexity of the decision-making and implementation process.
We examine three Italian SMEs. Italy is a technologically backward country; indeed, a report published by the Bank of Italy [1,2] reveals that Italian firms, when compared with their European competitors, show a strong technological gap, and their business is therefore penalised in the competition arena. In this regard, the
Italian government published a ‘Digital Agenda’ in 2011 encouraging firms to adopt new technologies. According to the document, cloud computing could be a main actor in the Italian technological revolution. Hence, the three Italian SMEs investigated in this chapter could better provide a picture of choosing to implement cloud computing and of the effects following the migration process, which should reveal the benefits.
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows. Section 2 reviews the literature about cloud computing adoption. Section 3 focuses on the research design. Section 4 presents the case studies on three Italian SMEs. Section 5 discusses the results of this study. Section 6 provides concluding remarks.