During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have digitally matured at an unbelievable pace. This has been impressive to watch and is a testimony to how essential the digital transformation journeys have become.
A pivotal part of these journeys are Cloud technologies and services. If done right, Cloud delivers transformational advantages to businesses, helping them to profoundly change the way they operate.
But there is a problem. The true potential of Cloud hasn’t been unleashed yet. The reason is that we so far haven’t managed to utilise the transformational opportunities that Cloud brings, nor have we managed to overcome the unexpected challenges we have encountered. This has caused several businesses to end up somewhere in the middle of their Cloud journeys. Far from the expected Nirvana, and only a few steps away from where the journey originated.
Finding oneself in this no man’s land seems like the obvious time to pause the journey, orientate oneself and assess how to reach the desired end goal. To do that, we need to understand what we can learn from Cloud 1.0 and how we can use that to create an even better Cloud 2.0 experience.
Cloud 1.0 – there are no shortcuts to any destination worth going
Plenty of today’s businesses have started using Cloud technology with an aspiration to take advantage of the opportunities Cloud platforms can provide such as increased flexibility, availability, scalability, security and cost effectiveness. Already, many have experience with SaaS solutions such as Teams, O365 and Salesforce while others have started migrating their existing applications to Cloud.
Unfortunately, several businesses have now realised that the expected benefits from “lift and shift” are still to appear. The reason is that many initiatives have been addressed as IT endeavours without a clear view of the desired end state and with no clear business perspective of the “why”. “Why” as in what is it that we as an organisation want to be able to do in the future by moving to Cloud.
Lifting and shifting the application portfolio to Cloud without optimising or modernising it won’t unleash the power of Cloud. Business as usual will still be business as usual even though we’re using Cloud as the new infrastructure to do it.
Looking back, migrating to Cloud has turned out to be more complex than what many believed. It turns out that there are no shortcuts and more than one stop on the way to reach the end destination. The transformation journey plan needs to reflect that.
Cloud 2.0 – an evolution rather than a revolution
The shift from Cloud 1.0 to 2.0 is an evolution rather than a revolution. The approach so far hasn’t been completely wrong. We’ve learnt a lot and we need to build on that. We need to evolve the way we use Cloud through an experienced based approach and optimise how, for what and why we use Cloud technologies by reassessing the way we’ve done things in Cloud 1.0.
This implies taking one step back, reconsider goals, strategies, processes and the Cloud business case. It also implies a paradigm shift in our understanding of Cloud. We need to be more holistic in our perception. Cloud needs to be considered as a transformational enabler for the entire business – not just from an infrastructure perspective. Cloud technologies provide businesses with transformational advantages, and so migrating to Cloud should be guided by a business focus rather than only an IT question.
We also need to sharpen our purpose and understanding of why we’re migrating to Cloud. What outcome do we expect to see two, three, five years from now? How does our current setup look like? What Cloud technologies can give us the advantages we need? And what existing services can we then get rid of? The purpose and desired outcome should always be the steering point for the approach and the decisions we make.
Finally, financial management becomes a team sport in Cloud 2.0. It is no longer just a question of IT paying the bills. It’s a question of incorporating financial management considerations when starting a project, developing tools and managing services. The IT department will still be a key stakeholder in this, but application owners, product owners and finance will be just as important in making sure that we manage our Cloud setup in a cost-effective and cost-transparent manner.
Reigniting the cloud journey
Even though we’re changing the direction from Cloud 1.0, the end goal of Cloud 2.0 remains the same as before. Cloud is a crucial part of the digital transformation journey and we need to take advantage of its transformational benefits and utilise the significant potential it provides organisations across industries.
Therefore, the question should not be if, but rather how to move to Cloud and how to do it at a pace and in a way that delivers on the ambitions and expectations you have as an organisation.
During Cloud 1.0, our eagerness to reach the end destination overshadowed the importance of paving the way before driving it. This made it difficult to move at the speed we were expecting to, and simultaneously made the initial part of the journey more complex and costlier than anticipated.
In Cloud 2.0, it is time to rethink the approach. We should pave the way before going forward and we should achieve the needed overview before continuing ahead. Only then will we be ready to move at increased speed. We’ll reach the desired end goal if we keep the purpose of our Cloud journey as our steering point and remember to always keep our deliberate and thoroughly prepared roadmap up to date.