A successful cloud adoption requires only a handful of key ingredients, addressing each of which mitigates much of the risk involved. Yet most cloud strategies are missing at least one of these factors, with many just paying lip service to the rest.
Today, every business wants to:
- get more from less
- empower innovation
- attract and retain the right talent
- create a collaborative ecosystem of partners and suppliers
- use IT and digital technology as an enabler (not a business cost)
- be secure in the physical and virtual world
Most organisations have realised that embracing the cloud and transforming the way they work is critical in achieving these outcomes. But recognising the need for change is not the same as successfully implementing it.
Too often, the benefits of cloud adoption are falling way short of expectations and the reason is simple: an immature cloud adoption strategy due to getting excited about the opportunities and not spending enough time on the planning stage.
“The majority of businesses embark on a cloud journey without considering the overarching objective, the tooling necessary, or the policies and governance required to manage this successfully,” says Paul Norton, a solutions director at cloud specialist Rackspace.
“In my opinion, any organisation that sets off with an immature cloud adoption strategy is no different to one who hasn’t started or even thought about getting into cloud.”
How NOT what
Before making any decisions, organisations need to undergo a self-assessment to identify where are they currently in terms of their overall digital technology maturity, where do they need to be, and what are the steps involved in that journey.
“This isn’t about getting to level 10,” says Paul. “It’s about pragmatically and proportionally adopting and changing your organisation to a point where the business benefits you projected are being realised.”
He continues; “The most important factor is getting the strategy right. Cloud is not one size fits all, it’s not a silver bullet, but it can bring tremendous benefits and opportunities if you understand how cloud will deliver benefits, not just that cloud is the answer.”
A cloud strategy requires more than technology to deliver the expected business outcomes
The image above represents the key components of a successful cloud adoption strategy. Too many businesses start from the bottom-up with ‘Technology’.
Paul and his team have encountered many organisations who have hurriedly embarked on a cloud journey, even begun moving workloads into the cloud, only for the business to realise they don’t have the talent required to benefit from the big data analytics, artificial intelligence and process optimisation cloud offers.
“Businesses swiftly discover that progression requires a level of data scientist or data engineer capability, so they’re having to juggle retrospectively attracting and recruiting that talent at the same time as their organisation embraces cloud,” Paul says.
Rather than starting at the bottom and leaving ‘People & Culture’ as an afterthought, Paul advises businesses to take the opposite approach.
It takes time to get the talent in place to be successful, so identify whether you already have the skills and expertise needed to execute your strategy (and don’t just look in the obvious places), and, if not, determine when, where and how you’re going to acquire them (recruitment, retraining / upskilling, universities, contractors, technology partners).
After considering the talent aspect, your next focus should be ‘Process’ and defining what’s involved with migrating workloads into the cloud. The biggest challenge here, according to Paul, is technical debt: manufacturers are so tied up with legacy systems, processes and policies that they are struggling to get control and move forward.
“Many organisations are in a state of organisational paralysis, certainly from a governance perspective, where they can’t complete the first phase of their migration journey because their policies don’t allow them to,” Paul says.
“Policies and procedures that were created for traditional data centres aren’t suitable for a cloud landscape and are actively inhibiting progression. It requires a radical new approach. The critical question is, is your organisation willing to do undergo such a fundamental change?”
The other mistake Paul and his team frequently encounter is organisations migrating systems and processes to the cloud on a like-for-like basis, an approach which delivers minimal business benefit.
The power of cloud offers the chance to step back and rethink the way your business has traditionally undertaken tasks, yet relatively few are leveraging that opportunity to realise the greatest operational efficiencies.
What does success look like?
‘Success’ looks different for every organisation, and a quick search online shows that there’s no shortage of information and case studies available. What’s important, Paul says, is that leadership teams have considered every element of the above framework from the outset.
“Everything else is going feed out of those basic components. Does achieving 80% represent a significant improvement over where you are today? Based on all the C-level conversations I’ve been having, the resounding answer to that is yes.
“Start-ups aside, it’s rare to find an established organisation that has a pragmatic, comprehensive cloud adoption strategy that incorporates each of these components, and many of those that say they’ve considered them haven’t actually taken any action. Your strategy is incomplete and therefore you’re not going to realise the maximum potential.
“That is why Rackspace exists, to use our expertise and experience to bring value to organisations at every stage of their cloud adoption journey. It’s not a case of simply wanting to get their workloads from point A to point B and wrapping a managed service around that; that’s not what we are looking for.
“We’re looking for business outcomes and making sure businesses are as successful as possible.”
Click here to learn more about what Rackspace has to offer your manufacturing business, so you can enjoy the benefits of cloud.