Most business leaders today will tell you they embrace the cloud. But unless they develop an overarching vision for incorporating it, they will not be able to reap the full benefits of cloud or take advantage of important emerging technologies.\n\u201cMany companies say, \u2018We\u2019re a cloud-first organization,\u2019 but that\u2019s really an intent not a strategy.\u00a0 A strategy needs to explicitly define how they are going to apply \u201ccloud\u201d to best execute on business objectives\u201d,\u201d said Denis Berry, Principal and CIO Advisory Lead at KPMG.\nBecoming a \u201ccloud-smart\u201d organization\u2014one in which the cloud is an integral part of all business operations and services\u2014doesn\u2019t happen overnight. It requires sustained commitment and coordination of the full team of C-suite leaders, particularly the CEO, the CIO, CISO the CTO, and the CDO (chief data officer). Here are some of the things today\u2019s leaders should be doing to make their organizations succeed in an increasingly cloud-based world.\nBe Inspired Leaders\nLeaders need to start with their own education, Berry said. They must understand specific benefits the cloud can bring to the organization and keep current with new technologies as they evolve.\u00a0 Leaders need to think holistically about the cloud options \u2013 IaaS, PaaS and SaaS \u2013 and decide when to leverage and be clear on the desired business outcomes.\u00a0 For example - is IaaS the approach to pay off tech debt and exit their data center; is PaaS going to be utilized to gain efficiencies and insights across platforms; and\/or will SaaS be used to leverage market services out of the box.\u00a0 They then need to create a cloud roadmap, revisit and revise it frequently, and\u2014critically\u2014ensure that business units follow through with implementation.\nLeaders need to advocate cloud-first but be clear that it does not mean moving everything to the cloud. Transporting all data, for example, would be prohibitively costly for most companies. \u00a0Instead, organizations should develop a rationale for moving legacy apps. \u201cIt\u2019s about shoring up a foundation to build on. Simply moving legacy solutions to a cloud environment doesn\u2019t allow you to reap the advantages of your cloud strategy,\u201d Berry said.\n\u201cOne major reason digital transformation fails is that organizations lack solid executive sponsorship and mischaracterize it as a technology implementation,\u201d Berry said. A frequently asked question from non-technology executives is \u201cWe implemented cloud, why aren\u2019t we seeing a change in the business?\u201d To succeed, the C-suite must not only embrace the cloud themselves, but inspire others to stretch boundaries.\nLay the Groundwork for Emerging Technology\nTo gear up for success, companies must modernize their current IT architecture. \u201cEmerging technologies like AI and blockchain, are almost exclusively delivered through the cloud and technologies like 5G will only increase the efficiency and speed of cloud computing services,\u201d Berry said.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about the art of the possible,\u201d Berry said. \u201cLeaders need to talk to business managers and explain, \u2018Here\u2019s what modern technologies like AI or blockchain can do for you,\u2019 How can we use ML\/AI to answer many of the help desk calls, monitor IT operations, review security, optimize business processes.\u00a0 How to we bring new solutions to market quicker though the use of modern development tools and processes?\u00a0 Where would blockchain advantage us versus our competitors?\nFind the Right Talent\nAs they push forward with new technologies, organizations will need different skills. Sixty-seven percent of organizations struggle to find the technology skills they need, particularly in data analytics, cybersecurity, and AI, according to the 2019 Harvey Nash\/KPMG CIO Survey.\n\u201cIt\u2019s the problem of our times,\u201d Berry said. \u201cEven in our post-Covid, high unemployment environment, there is zero unemployment for these roles.\u201d\nBusinesses can develop talent in-house through job shadowing and structured training from vendors. They must also be open to renting resources to mitigate risks during ongoing digital transformation. For some of the most coveted roles such as cloud architects, full stack developers, cloud engineers, site reliability engineers they will need to budget to secure pricey top talent.\nIn their zeal to find top skills, organizations must not neglect the importance of cultural fit, Berry cautioned. That may require revamping the traditional interview process, but not doing so jeopardizes the talent investment. \u201cIf someone is not a good fit, the people they need to groom will not come to them, and the organization can\u2019t progress,\u201d Berry explained.\nEnsure Data Security\nData is growing exponentially and pouring into public and private clouds. By 2025, 463 exabytes of data will be created every day, a 2019 Harvey Nash\/ KPMG CIO survey found. Edge computing and the IoT will vastly increase the number of access points, and each new connection is a potential entryway for hackers.\n\u201cC-suite leaders need to make decisions about where their data goes and develop a structured data governance and security plan,\u201d Berry said. The CISO should lead the way, working with business units and partners to incorporate their requirements.\nThat includes large managing cloud providers. \u201cYou need to manage hyperscale vendors just like you manage your own team. If you don\u2019t want your data stored in a specific country, you have to specify that,\u201d Berry said.\nAs personal data proliferates, privacy concerns are increasing. In the Harvey Nash\/KPMG survey, 91% of technology leaders agreed that data privacy and trust will become as important to customers as the products and services they buy.\nDemonstrating full compliance with regulations from HIPAA, FINRA, Europe\u2019s GDPR, and state privacy laws is a must for securing client trust, Berry said.\u00a0\nAt a Crossroads\nToday\u2019s C-suite leaders have an important choice to make: They can float from one cloud solution to the next, or develop a comprehensive cloud plan that fits hand-in-glove with their strategic and operational goals. Those who steer their organizations to take full advantage of the cloud will rise above the rest, Berry predicts.\n\u201cCloud-smart leaders run their businesses more efficiently and are able to take advantage of AI, machine learning, and no- or low-code applications. As a result, they deliver products faster and use data insights to provide better client services. Those are strong competitive advantages.\u201d\nFor more information on Cloud Smart strategies, please click here\n\u00a9 2020 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (\u201cKPMG International\u201d), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. \u00a0\nThe KPMG name and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.\nSome or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities.