MoJ CIDO - Why listening to your users can be the key to cloud success

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Moving to the cloud has become a key consideration for many growing businesses, offering a significant step-up in terms of computing power, flexibility and insight into your data.

But what happens when your business entails overseeing the entirety of the UK’s court and legal system?

Speaking at this week’s Cloud Expo Europe show in London, Tom Read, chief digital and information officer (CIDO) at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), outlined the challenges facing his organisation as it looks to deal with some of the most important data in the country.

In his talk, entitled, "Designing the digital function of the future", Read put forward several major pointers that he says will help businesses embrace new technologies - particularly when it comes to the cloud.

Noting that, “if government can do cloud, then anyone can,” Read began by issuing a warning over infrastructure concerns, which he said are often the cause of much stress in businesses of all sizes.

"Nobody really cares about infrastructure,” he declared, “it's the backbone, and as much as possible, we need to stop talking about it and stop putting all our efforts into backbone infrastructure."

Read also laid out some other “hard truths” for companies trying to be too ambitious when it comes to their ecosystem, noting, "Amazon is probably better at hosting than you - they're really good at it...The Internet is probably better than your corporate WAN (and) your users probably hate your crafted VPN solution."

Read explained that the MoJ was “cloud by default” due to its need for flexibility and efficiency, adding that doing so was a, "more secure, more resilient and more efficient" way of working

"We don't want to be focused on infrastructure, we want to be adding value for users, making it easier for people to grow business, and build better services," he noted.

Understanding the needs of your users is another major consideration, Read stated, highlighting how his team have been going in to prisons to liaise directly with officers to understand what exact needs they have.

"We've been building the wrong systems for 30 years,” he said, “We've been building crap because we're not asking people, until we release it...we need to stop doing  that. It's scary doing agile, but it's better if you can get it in the hands of users quickly."

Overall, Read said that the benefits of cloud far outweigh any possible issues caused by deployment, and have helped the MoJ greatly improve efficiency across the board. And if one of the most pressured government bodies can see the advantages of cloud, the positives should easily translate to business as well

As Read noted, "If we can put prison services on the cloud, I think most businesses should be able to do it.”