Paraphrasing Jack Welch, creating an IT strategy is in its essence very straightforward. You pick a general direction and then implement vigorously. And so it is with creating a cloud adoption strategy. Business and IT leaders set – or are given – continually evolving business directions and priorities.
To increase revenues and decrease costs, leaders need to innovate. They need to do different things that make a difference over what they did in years past. And, they need to do things better. Therefore, realizing strong investment returns from adding or moving to the cloud is not as simple as merely picking vendors and running successful projects.
A successful cloud adoption strategy enables competitive innovation and organizational agility. Simultaneously, that strategy reduces time and budget risks.
We see among Quest members and the broader technology marketplace four profiles of a cloud adoption strategy.
This is an opportunistic approach, adopting Cloud for specific reasons. It is rarely enterprise-wide in scope. For example, the human resources department might adopt a talent management software as a service (SaaS) cloud to help recruit more valuable new employees. Or, IT might adopt an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud to reduce the administration and licensing costs of development and test environments. Meanwhile, the enterprise continues to run related core business applications on premises.
This is a deliberate transitional approach, adopting Cloud for any new investment while retaining on-premises systems for existing business needs. For example, an organization could use this approach as part of an ongoing technology modernization strategy.
This approach uses the advantages of Cloud to enable line of business (LOB) transformation. This approach could be driven by innovative or reengineered process requirements, major market shifts, or significant cultural change.
This approach is an enterprise-wide , all-inclusive move to the Cloud. It may be the result of a spin-off, start up, or an enterprise-wide overhaul of the technology platform. It may be driven as an executive level, top down decision.
What is the right or best profile for your organization? One great way to get to that answer is to bring together the internal line of business customers with the related information technology leaders. A best practice is to explore the options, implications (including costs and benefits), and next steps in a short-duration collaboration project such as a workshop. By bringing together a multi-discipline team and moving quickly to set a roadmap of directions and timing, organizations make better decisions faster. Furthermore, by anticipating and planning for key needs and challenges, organizations reduce the time to realize positive value from their technology and process change efforts.
It is commonplace to need to prioritize a range of competing options and needs. For example, strategic options might focus on one or more of the following kinds of change drivers. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.
- Selective Modernization
- Continual Process Improvement
- Internet of Things (IoT) Computing
- Predictive/Cognitive Analytics
- Sense & Respond / Adaptive Systems
As another example, tactical options might focus on one or more of the following kinds of change drivers, or similar-scale options not on this list.
- Cloud-Based Development/Test Environments
- ERP Extensions
- ERP Standardization
- Cross-Platform Mobility
- IT Responsiveness
- SaaS Interoperability
As teams consider the options and implications, there are three crucial areas that have the potential to short-circuit the effectiveness of the cloud strategy. Teams need to consider:
- Personal data policies
- Infrastructure not yet depreciated
- Rigid ‘hard wired’ processes
- Need for zero latency
- Need for absolute control
Conversely, what are the critical success factors (CSFs) that the business and IT teams should deliver to each other and the business? Rick Beers of Keeping IT Real recommends planning and executing with special attention to these crucial factors.
- Interoperate across on premise applications and SaaS
- Enable shifting processes and data between public clouds, private clouds, and on-premise as business conditions change
- Deliver Day 1 value with a foundation for continuous innovation
- Enable The ability for Lines of Business to differentiate themselves from the competition.
- Balance openness with security
- Produce measurable benefits to the business
- Quantify relevant pricing scenarios (such as peak seasonal loads, revenue growth possibilities, and regional difference)
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Finally, Rick Beers recommends the following action steps:
- Determine your Adoption Profile.
- Select up to 3 critical business processes that are currently constrained within an IT system. Map what these process flows would like in an ideal pure or hybrid cloud environment.
- Recruit line of business and IT sponsors.
- Schedule a strategy workshop, and consider bringing in strategy partners who have helped other organizations to successfully strategize and act.