Cloud Computing – Still not the final destination

It’s mid-2015, and it’s clear that the cloud paradigm is here to stay. Its services are growing exponentially and, at this time, it’s a fluid model with no steady state on the horizon.

As such, adopting cloud computing has been surprisingly slow and seen more IT leaders, as well as business leaders, try to get their footing on what can otherwise be described as a very slippery slope.

Businesses are involved in a struggle to transform their firms into innovative and agile organisations, as well as gain a competitive advantage in their respective industry via a collaborated effort between the IT department and its internal business units.

And this is impacting all types of enterprises. Further, the phenomenon isn’t isolated to businesses that typically just “consume” technology, rather it’s also impacting the producers of IT technologies and services.

So here’s a good place to begin. Embrace and evangelise the following simple definition of “The Cloud.

The Cloud is any business service that you access via the internet

With that, cloud technology must not be viewed as the final destination, but as a tool to be used to obtain a business result.

Cloud computing should be utilised in finding viable solutions to business problems, as well as provide IT with the computing power that it requires to enable it to perform all of its daily or cyclical operations within the organisation.

The cloud strategy is derived from business strategy:

Cloud technology will best realise a true return on investment (ROI) for an organisation if it is founded on the alignment of the organisation’s business strategy as well as implemented in partnership with the IT department and/or trusted cloud adviser.

And yet, still to this day, business leaders continue to overlook the role of the IT organisation – often bypassing IT when evaluating and purchasing cloud services. This shows that business leaders are much quicker in adopting cloud services. IT needs to take the lead (be the enabler) in promoting cloud technology within the organisation; partnering with businesses to meet their needs and goals.

But ironically, to set a clear path on cloud technology, a clear business strategy (not necessarily a cloud strategy) must be defined and understood by the technology teams.

Where do you start?

The IT organisation can easily understand the benefits of many generic “as-a-service” options such as infrastructure, storage, disaster recovery, email, desktop, etc., to name just a few. And that’s a start. But to be truly successful, you just need to think “outside the box” and be savvy about your business process. You need to become an “expert” in designing supporting infrastructure, to optimise when and how to deploy new capabilities, when to tailor technology for a businesses need and when to accept a “good enough” solution.

None of these principles require specialist knowledge. They are simply grounded on excellent business sense and can therefore be readily applied to any firm that is seeking to overcome typical challenges and achieve growth. Put simply, you need to thoroughly study your commercial processes and then utilise cloud services to fulfill pieces of those processes. So what do you look for?

  • When possible, look to modularise business practices
  • Identify organisational processes that are ripe for automation or digitisation
  • Identify business challenges and barriers that are preventing revenue and growth
  • Find tasks that are taking too much time, preventing you from driving your customer plans forward
  • Determine which new business models, products, and services you want to experiment with, to address new opportunities
  • When possible, look to modularise business practices
  • Identify organisational processes that are ripe for automation or digitisation
  • Identify business challenges and barriers that are preventing revenue and growth
  • Find tasks that are taking too much time, preventing you from driving your customer plans forward
  • Determine which new business models, products, and services you want to experiment with, to address new opportunities

The IT cloud tactic:

A corporate strategy is a key success factor for any organisation; no business can be successful without it. Similarly, to harness the true potential of cloud computing and fully realise its power, an organisation must synchronise its IT cloud plan to that strategy, which then guides its technology selection and purchasing decisions.

Also, choosing a cloud service on the basis of enhancement or innovation of a business process goes a long way in helping the IT organisation become a real partner with the business, as well as getting an invitation back to the table in the C-Suite.

An IT organisation has a duty to provide a business with everything it needs to be, and remain competitive, including looking outside the datacenter for all viable solutions.