Cloud strategy and the future of work has been saved
Cloud strategy and the future of work
Cloud and the digital workplace journey: Part 1
A blog post by Robin Jones, principal and US Workforce Transformation leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Martin Kamen, principal and US Human Capital Cloud leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Diana Kearns-Manolatos, senior manager, Center for Integrated Research, Deloitte Services LP
Organizations across every industry are navigating monumental disruption, whether that’s addressing ethical issues such as climate change and ESG, navigating how to build and cultivate trust, rearchitecting the future of work, or “digitally transforming” as part of their digital workplace journey. In fact, six out of 10 leaders in Deloitte’s 2021 global resilience study expect to see occasional or pervasive global disruption at the scale of COVID-19 and climate change going forward as the norm.
This environment of disruptive change has accelerated transformations in work, the workforce, and the workplace that were already in motion. And it has further cemented cloud’s role in enabling the future of work, including innovative new business and organizational strategies, new operating models such as human-machine collaboration, agile ways of working, shifts to the digital workplace, and much more. Cloud is core, and it has evolved far beyond the now-familiar SaaS-based solutions. HR and business leaders can benefit from a deeper understanding of cloud, which is not only transforming the IT function, but also providing new opportunities across the organization. Reciprocally, technology leaders need to work closely with HR and business leaders on organizational design and workforce strategies to effectively transform for the digital workplace and the future of work.
The future of work: Aligning on strategy
Three big shifts in work, workforce, and workplace are driving the future of work and the digital workplace, and cloud is the engine powering them. However, while two-thirds (66.2%) of the more than 1,600 participants in our recent cloud Dbriefs webcast poll reported that cloud is enabling their work, workforce, and workplace, nearly a quarter (24.9%) of respondents didn’t know if their organization was using cloud as an enabler. HR, business leaders, and technology leaders can all benefit from being better aligned on strategy in each of these areas.
- Work is being rearchitected, moving away from the legacy of process-based tasks to focus more on project-based outcomes. Rearchitecting how we work, using digital solutions enabled by cloud, is how we can unlock value through enhanced productivity.
- The workforce trends we’ve tracked for more than a decade have accelerated. People want more flexibility, more purpose, and more say in their work. The pandemic gave us a new understanding of how work gets done and who can do it, effectively unleashing the workforce. It also highlighted skills gaps and forced organizations to recognize that they need to understand what skills are required in a cloud-enabled future and how they can access them, whether through upskilling within the organization or by tapping into a broader workforce ecosystem.
- Workplaces are evolving quickly in terms of where work physically gets done and the role of digital workspaces in enabling teaming and collaboration. Cloud is fueling this “phygital” workplace, enabling the workforce to work differently and with more value.
Each of these shifts will require leaders across functions to collaborate on strategy. But to look at one of the three in greater detail, we can examine changes in work itself. Deloitte’s recent research found that organizations are looking to innovate work outcomes related to four key areas that will require HR and business leaders to collaborate with cloud strategy leaders:
- Operations: Related to business continuity, workforce management, proactive cybersecurity, and governance.
- Data: Platforms that enable data consolidation, analytics, and intelligence and platforms that support work.
- Experiences: Cloud strategies can deliver frictionless, omnichannel, and personalized customer experiences and integrate technologies like augmented and virtual reality.
- Ecosystems: Cloud infrastructure is supporting more collaboration across digital platforms and collaborative ecosystems.
Across life sciences, health care, and government organizations, we’ve seen organizations using cloud data ecosystems to support collaborative research around new therapeutics and vaccines and telemedicine strategies. Hospital networks have used cloud to enable workforce management with internal talent marketplaces. Financial services and e-commerce organizations have started to think about replatforming and modernizing legacy lending applications and digital payments infrastructures. Cloud is being used to innovate digital apps and to manage workforce safety. The list is long and growing.
As IT leaders bring the power of cloud to the organization, business and HR leaders should look at ways to optimize value creation. Cloud technology can help modernize the business core, playing a central role in innovation and transformation across operations data, customer experience, supply chain, and so much more. What future scenarios would you like to achieve with cloud? Is it being able to use data to become more agile and respond to what the data reveals? Is it using cloud to innovate new product strategies? Is it automating business operations through intelligent AI?
The point is that cloud has the potential to unlock tremendous business value, and organizations are taking many different paths to do so. Cloud is not one thing; it can be many different things to help drive change and power transformative business solutions.
Workforce and organizational implications
In the process, cloud is fundamentally changing how businesses function: their organizational structure, roles, and ways of working. And this is not just for IT; it’s across the whole organization.
The cloud-enabled innovation we’re talking about isn’t just about the technology; it’s also about the humans behind the technology. We know that humans bring the intellectual horsepower, creativity, collaboration, empathy, and vision that are crucial to innovation. Facilitating and enhancing these innate human qualities with technology is where the real breakthroughs happen. This is true not only in the IT function, but also across the organization.
Getting to this place of human-machine synergy means solving for a very different problem. Current practices focus on change management and teaching people how to adopt technology, but what we really need to do is engage humans in designing future solutions that will change how they work so that they embrace it.
Keeping the momentum going
The pandemic accelerated the adoption and use of cloud infrastructure to support changes to day-to-day business operations. What many organizations found, though, is that they were not prepared with the right people or processes or technologies they needed to advance those strategies.
Moving to the cloud is not always as simple as lifting and shifting; it’s not about doing what you do today “in the cloud.” It’s really about fundamentally rethinking the way that work is done in the organization and creating platforms that drive forward new strategies and bring together users across the business around shared goals.
In our next post, we’ll look at how organizations can avoid what we call the “cloud adoption plateau” and align their operating model, skills, leadership, and ways of working to realize meaningful returns on their cloud investment that unleashes the power of their workforce.
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