Posted: 14 Oct. 2021 10 min. read

Looking beyond technology to support cloud transformation

Cloud and the digital workplace journey: Part 2

By Robin Jones, Martin Kamen, and Diana Kearns-Manolatos

Keep cloud momentum going by avoiding an adoption plateau

Organizational and workforce alignment is more important than ever to realize meaningful returns from your cloud investment

Organizations across industries and borders are leveraging the power of cloud, AI, and analytics to innovate, scale their business, and gain insights into customers and operations. At the same time, they have learned that focusing solely on technology and applications is not enough to realize the return on investment (ROI) they want from migrating to cloud. To become a cloud-enabled organization and realize its full ROI, best-in-class leaders are looking beyond technology across the organization—and business, technology, and HR leaders all need to be key partners on that journey.

The challenge, however, is what we call the “cloud adoption plateau”—a stall in cloud adoption and true organizational transformation—that limits what organizations are able to achieve with cloud. Organizations may experience this plateau when they move too quickly to migrate work (applications and processes) to the cloud without developing the right operating model, skills, leadership support, and new ways of working. In essence, they haven’t re-architected work for the cloud. These shortfalls have a business cost and an innovation cost – this is where HR leaders have an important opportunity to work with IT and business leaders to help overcome them. That means creating a cloud-enabled organizational structure and workforce that is ready to support the organization’s cloud transformation strategy, close innovation gaps, and enable sustained cloud ROI.

Cloud ROI requires re-architecting work and organizational transformation

Cloud technology and IT applications are only part of the equation to achieve ROI. Cloud technology and application strategies need to go hand in hand with (1) operating model and workforce transformation in order to effect change across processes, tools, and team structures and (2) the right skills and governance models to support that change.

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This new value equation requires HR and IT working together to build the operating model and to understand the roles and skills needed to drive the cloud strategy forward.

Traditional IT roles include software developers, data and analytics engineers, architects, security engineers, and infrastructure engineers. But, there’s a whole class of future roles and skills that organizations will need for the cloud, which includes cloud architects, cloud platform engineers, cloud security engineers, DevOps engineers, site reliability engineers, and others. With cloud a priority for every organization, these workers are in high demand and extremely hard to find, so organizations need to think ahead, mapping current skills against future needs and exploring how to build or buy the skills necessary for their cloud-enabled journey, keeping in mind the skills needed are becoming increasingly integrated across technology functions and are fast-changing.

In addition to skills, organizations also need to think about re-architecting work for a cloud environment. That means developing an operating model for cloud that supports IT and the business in running and working in the cloud, including ownership, decision rights, governance, and the impact on teams and work. For example, cloud technologies are a key enabler for work automation and the digital workforce of bot workers. In addition to mapping business processes for the technology performing work, organizations will need to consider how their human workforce collaborates alongside these technologies as part of human and machine teams.

Cases in point

One global lender early in their cloud journey started developing their cloud strategy with a workforce capability assessment. They mapped current and critical cloud skills across several dimensions, assessed the gap between where they were and where they needed to be, and closed that gap by assessing the potential impact of upskilling vs. hiring. In this case, they used a blend of short-term contractors, hired new FTEs for select roles, and upskilled others for longer-term needs.

In another instance, a Fortune 500 tech company was running most of their in-house software on-premises but wanted to expand their internal cloud storage capabilities. They conducted a skills gap analysis, built their cloud talent plan to address cloud maturity pain points, and architected a cloud boot camp curriculum focused not only on the technology, but also on teaching the IT team to work in new, high-performance ways. Their success led to a snowball effect across the organization, with other functions (finance, HR, product) embracing their own high-performance cloud migration journeys.

Not a solo endeavor

Digital transformation requires cloud adoption; however, organizations will fail to achieve the cloud’s full ROI if HR, IT, and business leaders don’t work together. Moving to the cloud is about more than the cloud. It’s about re-architecting work processes, enabling the workforce with the right skills and operating model that unleash the strength of human capabilities, and driving technology adoption through change management.  

This means:

  • Partnering across HR, IT, and the business on strategy and operating model outcomes and requirements.
  • Investing in the cloud skills and capabilities aligned to your organization’s business and technology strategy with a focus on cross-skilled and cross-teamed cloud experts as part of a product delivery team model able to quickly respond to events as strategies and assumptions change.
  • Assessing resources and tools available from the cloud providers to accelerate and supplement this journey, including industry cloud solutions, AI tools, and shared services, 
  • Activating cultural and leadership levers to manage, reward, and celebrate the transformational change that cloud represents.

Achieving your “cloud possible”

Every organization’s cloud journey is different, but fundamental to all of them is the need to acknowledge that cloud is much more than a technology. It fundamentally changes the way work is done, enabling new insights and innovation, powering business and organizational strategies, and accelerating the future of work, the workforce, and the workplace. Leveraging its potential—realizing it's possible—requires a coordinated, concerted effort. Only with IT, HR, and business leaders working together can the promise of cloud become reality and the power of a cloud-enabled workforce be put to work.


  • Robin Jones, Principal, and US Workforce Transformation leader
  • Martin Kamen, Principal, and US Human Capital Cloud Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Diana Kearns-Manolatos, Senior Manager, Center for Integrated Research, Deloitte Services LP 

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Martin Kamen

Martin Kamen

Principal | Human Capital Cloud Leader

Martin is a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Practice, based out of San Francisco. Martin’s focus is on working with clients to help them manage and prepare leaders and employees for large-scale business transformation. Martin is also the US and Global Human Capital Cloud leader. Martin has an MSc in International Employment Relations and Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics and a BA in Sociology from The George Washington University.