Are you Nephophobic? Overcome your fear of the Cloud


FearOfCloud.jpgWhile helping his daughter with her Ancient Greek, James Marland was reminded that it’s easy to construct plausible English words out of Greek stems. One of the broadest sets of such words is lists of ‘phobias’: fears that range from the well-known claustrophobia and xenophobia to the unlikely Koumpounophobia (fear of buttons). After looking up the Greek for “cloud” he came up with the word Nephophobia.

Nephophobia (n): fear of clouds, in this month’s SmartProcurement.

Many supply chains are afraid of the cloud. Marland thought it might be useful to look at the clinical diagnoses and suggested treatments for phobias to see if they may provide treatment for companies afraid of moving to the cloud. They seem to fall into several groups.


Medical phobias such as fear of flying can be overcome by learning about aeroplanes and how flight works. In order to reduce your fear of clouds, you can similarly educate yourself on cloud technologies and standards. Once you understand more about the way the cloud can reduce your costs and improve access to innovation, you are well on the way to learning to love it.

Attending a self-help group

Self-help groups allow phobia sufferers to meet similar people and are great to talk about challenges overcome and what works and what doesn’t work. For cloud sufferers, meet with your suppliers and buyers to learn how they are using the cloud: specifically how they would like to use the cloud to connect with you. Your customers and suppliers are likely initiating projects to make doing business with them easier and cheaper. For example, find out if your Accounts Receivable teams are being asked to send invoices electronically over the cloud. If so, you can take this initiative to the next building to Accounts Payable, and start to reap the benefits of e-Invoicing yourself.

Exposure therapy

Phobias such as fear of snakes can be overcome by exposing yourself to non-poisonous varieties under controlled conditions, and then you see that the phobia has no physiological basis. For cloud sufferers, this means that getting started can be the best way of getting comfortable with the whole idea. What is the equivalent of the “safe snakes” for phobia sufferers? Taking your existing business flows of buying and selling (orders and invoices) and running them over a Network has the least disruption, but still has significant benefit. Once you have beaten the phobia, you can expand into Supply Chain, HR and others.


Marland doesn’t recommend this last treatment plan as a long-term strategy. Cloud is coming, and if you refuse to overcome your fears by continuing to ignore it, you will find that you are cutting yourself off from the latest innovations, and your inability to communicate electronically with your business partners will increasingly affect your bottom line.

James Marland is Vice President of Network Strategy at Ariba, an SAP Company.

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