2022 is shaping up to be a big year for cloud. The era of cloud-based business experimentation is coming to a close and we’re entering a new dawn of the cloud-native enterprise and large-scale, all-encompassing digital transformation initiatives. According to a recent IDC InfoBrief commissioned by Cloudreach titled How to be a Digital Leader in 2022, nearly half of IT decision-makers are at the transformation and innovation stage of their cloud migration journeys.
Transitioning to a cloud-native way of working doesn’t just require a technology shift, but a shift in mindset towards a digital way of thinking that permeates across the entire organization – from the C-suite to font-line salespeople. The ability to innovate and iterate faster in a cloud-native world opens up a slew of technical possibilities that stand to fundamentally transform the way a business operates and speed up time-to-market for new solutions.
The true value of cloud isn’t in the technology itself, but in what it enables companies to be. This is why it’s so important to cultivate a cloud culture internally to get the entire organization on the same page and working towards the same goals.
What does cloud culture look like?
Cloud has enabled businesses to become much more responsive to their markets and the opportunities they present. This gives business leaders more freedom to experiment and explore with lower risk to stay competitive in the marketplace, and enables them to respond and adapt to sudden market shifts.
Imagine having the ability to rapidly experiment with 100 different business ideas and keep only the one that works while discarding the rest. This was unheard of before the cloud, but it’s quickly becoming standard practice. From a cultural perspective, this means businesses need to move away from rigid planning structures to those that are agile and responsive to the market.
CIOs can support this by creating cohesion across business functions. Despite 90% of organizations pointing to cloud technology as a critical strategy that’s essential for their survival, only a little more than half report being extremely or completely aligned when it comes to business and IT / digital strategies at a board level. Those that aren’t aligned risk significantly delaying their cloud transformation projects, or worse – dooming them to failure.
A steady hand
Let’s face the facts: large scale cloud transformations are really tough, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they can be a disruptive force. Aligning teams and business units will go a long way to minimizing disruption, but there will inevitably be hiccups along the way. So, it’s important that internal and external stakeholders understand the level of disruption they can expect.
CIOs can help build a cloud transformation into the company culture by providing frequent communication – not just on the status of the cloud journey, but how the destination will better help them do their jobs and serve the needs of customers.
They can also help foster a culture where digital skills are valued, which will be critical for long-term success. Businesses are definitely struggling in this area, with 72% of How to be a Digital Leader in 2022 respondents agreeing there’s a cloud skills gap within their organization. Closing the skills gap will require upskilling current employees while outsourcing other cloud functions. In the era of the cloud-native enterprise, all departments must have an understanding of digital and how it will impact their operations in terms of capabilities. CIOs can and should be digital transformation evangelists, so the organization views it as a strategic business initiative and not just another IT project.
Selecting the right vendor
When it comes to cloud choices, there are several decisions CIOs have to make. First, you need to determine whether a public, private or hybrid cloud approach is better for your organizational goals. And then, there is a multitude of vendors to choose from, each promoting competitive pricing and service offerings. But, there’s one question that CIOs aren’t asking enough: which cloud vendor is the best cultural fit for the organization?
Yes, you heard that right. Cultural fit is just as important of a choice in selecting the right cloud services vendor as any other in the purchasing process. I’d even argue it’s the most important decision a CIO can make since cloud transformation projects are a significant investment in the organization’s future. And, a mismatched cloud culture can forever hinder your technology teams if your goals and aspirations clash.
Here are some cultural considerations when evaluating cloud services providers:
- Check the mission statement. One of the quickest ways to figure out what a cloud vendor stands for is to see how they position themselves on their own website.
- Ask questions about their culture and processes. Find out how the vendor manages problem tickets, critical incidents and feature requests. Do they practice DevOps and Agile methodologies?
- Check their work. Review case studies of how organizations similar to yours are using the cloud. What were their successes and challenges? How were the results?
- Get references. Talk to actual end users to get their perspective and ask any questions you have about the cloud provider’s culture.
Cloud transformation projects shouldn’t remain in the domain of IT. It will have ripple effects across the entire organization. Businesses will never be able to realize the full potential of the cloud if they don’t also transform their culture into one that’s digital-first. For some organizations, this shift may be as large as the IT transformation itself. CIOs can – and should – be the stewards who guide the organization into the cloud native future.
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