Posted: 28 Apr. 2022 5 min. read

It’s time to get cirr-i-us about cloud!

 

Is ‘the Cloud’ just a way of describing software and technology services that you rent, instead of own?


To some degree, it is just that - you decide which ‘Cloud Services’ you want to use, enter your credit card (being careful to set your regular spend notifications so you don’t get a nasty shock at the end of the month!) and rent away. It’s flexible, scalable, easy to consume and always on.

However, organisations are becoming less interested in the technology aspects of Cloud and more focused on the agility it can deliver and the potential to underpin business transformation. When thinking in this way, the Cloud must be considered a more strategic enabler than simply the modern-day equivalent of Radio Rentals - which, at its base level it is.

As organisations evolve from experimenting to a strategic journey to Cloud, the conversation quickly comes around to how to realise value. Exploiting the promised advantages needs CxO’s and senior leaders to think about all aspects which are required for transformational change, after all… The Cloud is just rented technology and software and realising the value is more complex than simply moving workloads from on-premise to your chosen Cloud.

Enabling transformation needs organisations to create the right conditions for change across the organisation and IT operating models. The following are examples of areas which are key to apply early focus:


Ways of Working

With the use of Agile/Lean principles, increased automation, application of DevOps and change in skills, the way people and teams interact is changing:

  • Traditional process frameworks such as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) are certainly impacted, but also are areas such as business partnering, product management, developing capabilities and portfolio governance;
  • The requirements for security, financial management, architecture and regulatory oversight all need to be understood;
  • Establishing standards and guard-rails that reflect strategic priorities, such as speed to market or customer experience are fundamental and need to be considered holistically to ensure ways of working are joined up, support and integrate with each other and reflect a single vision.


Skills

With technology emerging at a faster pace, the half-life of technical skills will continue to reduce and the need to retrain will accelerate:

  • Organisations need to futureproof the workforce by increasingly recruiting based on behaviours such as adaptability and a growth mindset, as opposed to prioritising a technical skillset;
  • The need to develop and maintain new technical skills is increasingly being driven by ‘communities of practice’ or similar groups, sometimes created formally and organisation wide or sometimes driven organically for smaller numbers based on special areas of interest or cross cutting themes such as service experience design.
  • Learning and development delivery approaches need to change to become more agile and enable learning pathways which can change at a pace which matches technology;


Culture

Cloud challenges established business ‘norms’ and can impact organisation culture:

  • Cloud providers offer an ever-expanding range of services, available to activate and deactivate on demand.Organisations need a culture which embraces flexibility, adaptability and agility to exploit new opportunities as they appear;
  • Early Cloud pioneers, who may have been working with less oversight, will need to accept the importance of standards, protective guard rails


Metrics and performance management

New business and service owners will want to understand performance in a way that is meaningful to them:

  • Abstraction in technology components will shift from traditional SLA and availability metrics with increasing focus on business outcomes and customer experience.
  • Capabilities which draw insight from data will trend towards visual representation in dashboards, which needs less interpretation to inform decision making;


Risk and regulation

The adoption of Cloud services will impact an organisation’s risk profile may introduce a new regulatory landscape with concerns around security and data protection:

  • Services traditionally assured from within an organisation with the assumed visibility and control that this brings will now be delivered ‘aaS’ from third parties. For audit purposes, services need to be viewed through a new lens because the nature of their delivery is fundamentally different - it will no longer be possible (or appropriate) to simply ask providers to replicate existing internal controls.
  • Changes in control will require a mind-shift as platforms delivered as a service may prove more secure or available than those delivered on-premise.

The opportunities for Cloud are everywhere. We use it in our daily lives without question and most organisations are consuming Cloud services to some degree. It’s ok to consume a service, however as someone who grew up in the 80’s remembers, in the long run the TV you rented will have actually cost you may times its actual cost and you’ll be wondering if you realised the value!

What sets businesses apart is not their ambition, but in how they are planning to change and adapt to exploit Cloud:

  • Thinking about the cultural change and adoption of new ways of working;
  • Investing in the workforce to equip them for Cloud;
  • Shifting metrics towards outcomes and customer experience.

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