Accelerating Cloud Adoption
Traditional enterprises run into two major issues when moving to the cloud:
- The existing business applications were created using the traditional IT paradigm. As a result, these applications are typically monolithic and configured for fixed/static capacity in a few data centers. Simply moving them to the cloud will not magically endow them with all the dynamic features of the cloud.
- The typical technology workforce of an enterprise is well versed in developing business applications in the traditional IT framework. Most of them need to be re-skilled or up-skilled for the cloud environment.
As a result, despite overall increased cloud investment, enterprise cloud adoption is not maturing as rapidly as it should. Many enterprises are stuck supporting both their inefficient traditional data-center environments and inadequately planned cloud implementations that may not be as easy to manage or as affordable as they imagined. While it is true that the overwhelming majority of companies being formed are establishing themselves as pure-cloud from the start, companies formed only 2-5 years ago likely have on-premises or hybrid solutions in place. Some of the more forward-thinking companies have been able to pursue advanced enterprise cloud implementations, but the average enterprise (as of 2019) has achieved less than 20 percent public or private cloud adoption.
States Sanil Solanki, Research Director at Gartner:
“Despite the hype, the uptake of cloud computing as a solution has not been as rapid as first anticipated, in part because of the confusion created around the financial benefits. While it’s said to be cheaper than on-premises, cloud gets push-back from the finance function because it increases operating expenditure (OPEX) costs. IT departments let finance take the lead on this decision, and this stalemate is rarely broken.”
To clarify, movement to the cloud is increasing – but because of this slow maturation, many of the promises of the cloud are not yet being achieved. One immediate benefit of moving to the cloud is immediate access to out-of-the-box administrative features and governance guidance, replacing non-existent or ineffective governance practices and helping organizations more quickly recognize the value in their cloud investments, such as Office 365.
Organizations need to pause and re-examine their approach. While the concept of “digital transformation” is not new, and has become overused within the industry, organizations need to re-think their core business capabilities and how the current slate of tools and solutions, which may have not been available 2-3 years ago, can have a dramatic impact on a business and more quickly achieve desired business outcomes.
Some of the most common pitfalls of cloud adoption:
- Anticipated cost savings don’t materialize
- Vendor lock‑in
- Data security and privacy
- Compliance and regulatory risks
- Hybrid cloud integration
When it comes to cloud adoption, the biggest challenge isn’t technology—it’s the people and processes that must change and adapt. Time, cost and security are the most common challenges. Moving data is a slow process because it requires a lot of bandwidth and man-hours. There are also security doubts, and companies often prefer to keep their data on local servers.
What actions can an organization take to better prepare to move to the cloud? At the core, it is all about establishing a culture around change management and healthy governance habits:
- Conduct a detailed self-assessment. Begin by creating a baseline. Conduct a detailed assessment of your systems and tools, information architecture, and desired business outcomes so that you better understand what is in place today, how it maps across to your tool and system capabilities, and where there may be gaps. With this baseline in place, you will be able to properly plan for future system and tool deployments and ongoing business requests.
- Create (or improve/extend) your governance committee. One of the essential steps to successful cloud adoption is the creation of an oversight committee, tasked with the ongoing operational review of your solutions and platforms as they are planned, deployed, extended, and supported. The goal of this team should be to regularly review the state of operations, monitor changing business needs and evolving technology capabilities, ensure that information architecture, security and regulatory requirements are being met, and to track end user adoption and engagement.
- Incorporate change management into your culture. An effective change management process is the key to transparency, and should be led by your IT organization or Project Management Organization (PMO) to provide a formal front-door process for business and feature requests, to provide issue tracking and status updates, and to work with end users and management alike to ensure that what is delivered meets expectations. Something to note: You cannot effectively incorporate change management into your organization without the governance body — and likewise, you cannot execute on your governance strategies without also building and supporting a change management culture. They go hand-in-hand.
- Invest in training and adoption. Do not assume that the initial training conducted when your intranet or collaboration platform was initially rolled out will be sufficient for long-term success. Provide a blend of self-help and ongoing productivity training for all employees, and leverage some of the “Customer Success” best-practices provided through the community to look for ways to continually inspire and encourage end users to collaborate and stay engaged.