Making Cloud work for your business.
While you’ve been busy getting on with things over the last few years, the Cloud has come of age: it’s moved from being the preserve of the technologists to become a mainstay of everyday life. It’s everywhere. Literally.
But what is it? What’s it for? Why is it so useful and how can you best take advantage of it?
This guide has been created to answer all of those questions and more: to provide you with enough information to be able to engage in meaningful conversations about how the Cloud can shape and support your business.
Of course, most businesspeople know a little about the Cloud – some even know a lot. But we think that all businesspeople need to become ‘Cloud fluent’. That is, to understand it from the ground up, and use that understanding to determine how Cloud could transform their business.
But, as everyone knows, fluency demands an understanding of the language and, in this case, we’re talking about the combination of technology and consulting – two of the most buzzword‑rich business sectors on the planet.
So, this guide is both a primer and a reference – accessible and, hopefully, engaging. It will help you to understand the basics of Cloud, the different types of Cloud set ups, the opportunities, challenges and some of the lessons we’ve learnt along the way. By the end, you should be well on the way to Cloud fluency – and be primed for the kinds of conversations you should be having about the Cloud and your own business. Let’s get started.
The Cloud’ is really just a way of describing software and technology services that you rent, instead of own. But ‘Cloud’ sounds better doesn’t it? More … inspirational. In some ways, we could stop right there. Cloud means accessing the very latest high‑end facilities and processing power when you need to, but not having to pay for it to sit idle when you’re not using it, or having to keep paying to upgrade when technology moves on.
But most people are less interested in what the technology is and more focused on what it can deliver. And Cloud has the potential to deliver transformational advantages to businesses.
So here’s a summary of what Cloud can bring. This is also your primer, if you still need one, on why you need to become Cloud fluent:
- Speed and power – Cloud deployment enables new agile ways of working, delivering solutions more quickly and in smaller bite‑sized chunks.
- Increased flexibility and cost effectiveness – Cloud’s pay‑as‑you‑use billing model allows you to access advanced computational capabilities without the capital expenditure.
- Scalability and sharing – Cloud enhances your ability to vary computational and data storage capabilities according to demand and business needs. It also enables you to share data at all levels – personal, workgroup, enterprise, and industry.
- Cutting‑edge capabilities – Cloud enables you to access the latest technology – such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or augmented reality – to solve business problems.
The technology sector and, dare we say it, the consulting sector too, is apt to make a lot of noise about ‘the next big thing’. But in the case of Cloud, the hype has been thoroughly warranted – Cloud is helping to transform business.
Cloud has helped to support the emergence of many new, transformative technologies. The integration of emerging technologies such as AI, VR and machine learning into the solutions provided by the major Cloud platforms is driving a new wave of innovation and spawning a host of exciting opportunities in business, for example:
- The major Cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure now provide ‘out‑of‑the‑box’ solutions that make it easy for businesses to access AI and machine‑learning capabilities, accessible through APIs.
- Rather than building a ‘recommendation engine’ from scratch, e‑commerce companies can now simply access and plug in an‑off‑the‑shelf engine.
- Using readily available video intelligence modules, developers can now extract actionable insights from video files, without having to develop machine‑learning or computer‑vision models themselves.
- Similar modules can now provide a fully managed service to easily and securely connect, manage, and analyse data from globally dispersed IoT devices. Modules like these could be used to support a huge range of services, for example to create a system that automatically detects cracks in pipelines and alerts maintenance engineers to attend.
Most of these solutions are data intensive and require immense processing power which makes them very suitable for Cloud. So, as well as combining with emerging technologies to provide sophisticated new solutions, Cloud is, in itself a key enabler for building these solutions. The key point here is that a better understanding of the native capabilities of Cloud platforms is important for all business leaders because it can inspire different thinking – a wider understanding of what might truly be possible for your business. Ultimately, this is the power of Cloud fluency.
Let’s not be coy about this: migrating to the Cloud is a big deal. It’s not easy, fast or cheap and you will almost certainly encounter challenges along the way. Large organisations in particular sometimes struggle to scale their Cloud programmes because of the interconnectedness of the elements that need to change: the perceived enormity of the task leads to organisational inertia (or even resistance). So, let’s address the feeling of ‘it’s all too much’ by breaking down the challenges and obstacles into manageable chunks.
Here are some of the most common pitfalls in Cloud transformation and some steps to address them:
|Cloud adoption challenge
|Steps to overcome the challenge
|Operating model redesign
Cloud. And You
Adopting Cloud is neither an IT issue, nor is it simply a project: it is a fundamental change to the DNA of your company. That’s a bold claim but as we have already seen, Cloud has the potential to impact almost every aspect of the business. To benefit fully from the advantages it brings, you need to embrace the idea of transformation rather than change. There are numerous approaches to Cloud implementation that highlight the key considerations in such a transformation. At Deloitte, we advocate an approach that comprises six phases:
- 01. Cloud strategy
- 02. Risk management
- 03. Business case
- 04. Governance
- 05. Cloud migration
- 06. Cultural change