As CIO Neil Holden moved his company, Halfords Group, further into the cloud, he sought to do more than simply \u201clift-and-shift\u201d IT operations.\n\nRather, Holden \u2014 like most CIOs \u2014 wanted his increasing use of cloud to enable and shape the company\u2019s transformation agenda. To succeed in that objective, he knew he had to transform not just the tech stack but his own IT department as well.\n\n\u201cYou definitely have to look at your own IT [department] structure with any kind of cloud adoption,\u201d he says. \u201cIT has to operate very differently now not just because of cloud but because of what cloud means to the business.\u201d\n\nSo Holden, who has been CIO at Halfords \u2014 the UK\u2019s largest retailer of motoring and cycling products and services \u2014 since 2017, developed a strategy to reorganize his tech team. He did that as he was devising the company\u2019s overall cloud strategy, seeing that as the best way to ensure his staff could seize on the capabilities that the cloud provides and the business opportunities that the cloud could enable.\n\n\u201cYou have to have the right organization to achieve that, because if you\u2019re just going to stick your stuff in the cloud, you\u2019re not going to leverage those investments [to their fullest],\u201d he says.\n\nCIOs along with researchers, consultants, and advisors agree that IT must change itself, how it works and how it organizes its workers, if it wants to gain the most benefits out of cloud computing.\n\nOtherwise, they say, IT simply moves the location of its servers from its own data centers to someone else\u2019s \u2014 and risks missing out on the innovation, transformation, and speed to market that cloud adoption enables.\n\n\u201cYou can\u2019t take your same skills and teams from on-prem to the cloud. That\u2019s where you\u2019re going to fail,\u201d says Sushant Tripathi, vice president and North American lead for cloud transformation at Tata Consultancy Services. Instead, CIOs need to retrain and reorganize IT to take advantage of all the bells and whistles that cloud offers, he says.\n\nHere, four IT leaders detail how they have taken action on this front.\n\nLeaving behind linear processes\n\nHolden\u2019s reorganization focused in part on eliminating linear software development, a linear project process and the department team structure that accommodated that linear approach to getting work done.\n\n\u201cWe changed our structure entirely,\u201d he says.\n\nPreviously, Halford\u2019s IT function was conventionally organized with a structure made up of separate teams for business analysis, solutions design, infrastructure, and so on. Under that organization, work moved from one team to the next down the line.\n\n\u201cSomeone would talk to the business, hand off the requirements to the design team, and that\u2019s then handed over to delivery and infrastructure teams,\u201d he says, explaining that the teams worked independently and created agreements between themselves that hashed out each team\u2019s deliverables and timelines. \u201cNow all that [work] happens within an agile circle with iterative delivery, so the linear process has all been crushed together.\u201d\n\nHere\u2019s how he did it: Holden hired cloud architects, who brought cloud integration experience and training to the agile methodology Holden embraced. He also trained existing staffers in cloud skills and the agile method. And he hired agile coaches to work with his IT team. Then he broke up those distinct, independent teams and created Scrum teams staffed by product owners, business analysts, solution architects, front-end developers, back-end developers, and testers.\n\nThe new Scrum teams worked iteratively instead of in a linear mode to speed up the delivery of new capabilities and features, allowing IT \u2014 and the business as a whole \u2014 to capitalize on the company\u2019s cloud investments.\n\n\u201cA big part of this change wasn\u2019t just cloud but changing the hearts and minds of people. So we put a huge amount of effort into training,\u201d Holden says, adding that he orchestrated a nearly clean cut-over to this new structure in late 2021.\n\nHolden says he sees the value of this reorganization in his team\u2019s ability to more quickly. He calculated that one project, created and deployed in 42 days by his revamped IT team, would have taken the old IT department 152 days to complete.\n\nCores and chapters to unlock cloud talent\n\nArizona State University CIO Lev Gonick has similarly reconfigured his IT team to better seize on the opportunities cloud provides.\n\nThat reconfiguring didn\u2019t happen right away, Gonick says. ASU started its cloud journey a decade ago with experiments, before becoming more strategic and aggressive about cloud adoption when Gonick became CIO in 2017. ASU now has about 85% of its workloads in the cloud.\n\nGonick says his team had to change if it was going to be agile enough to keep pace with business needs and scale as the university grows. Gonick\u2019s solution was to \u201cfundamentally flatten the organization.\u201d\n\n\u201cIt was a high-stakes gamble on my part,\u201d he says, noting that he decided to make the changes during the early part of the pandemic. \u201cWhat we did instead of having vertically oriented teams, we created series of \u2018cores,\u2019 which is the language of large software development shops.\u201d\n\nGonick says these cores represent \u201crapidly reconfigurable pools of talent\u201d with each one focused on five specific areas. He says the majority of the teams and their work is organized around five cores, which are professional development communities around a common practice. There are four technical cores: engineering, service delivery, product and programs, and data and analytics; the fifth core is related to learning experience.\n\nManagers in the product and programs core bring the right combination of talent together to work in chapters, which Gonick likens to work groups; for example, there are 30 engineering chapters.\n\n\u201cThe reason we did this is to make sure we\u2019re aligned to what the cloud affords us the opportunity to do,\u201d he says, adding that this organizational structure lets IT professionals stretch and exercise their talent by working on diverse projects \u201crather than be in a salt mine and work day in and day out with the same set of tools.\u201d\n\nHe adds: \u201cIt\u2019s really about unleashing human talent. This is my own personal view here, but most enterprise technical teams are steeped in hierarchical organizations that suffocate way too much of the talent. Most [professionals] have a breadth of knowledge that they rarely have a chance to explore, share, and build. But this affords our teams the opportunities to grow as a professional community and to be highly engaged \u2014 not only between themselves but with the business.\u201d\n\nCentralizing teams for cloud success\n\nLike ASU, Liberty Mutual Insurance has been on its cloud journey for the past decade, starting off with experimentation before going all-in six years ago for its ability to \u201cgive us speed to market, drive costs down, and give us flexibility in turning on and off capabilities,\u201d says Monica Caldas, who became Liberty Mutual\u2019s executive vice president and global CIO in January after serving in two other executive IT roles at the company since 2018.\n\nThroughout Liberty Mutual\u2019s cloud journey, IT leadership has focused on developing the talent and skills needed to move from an on-premises environment to one that\u2019s mostly in the cloud, Caldas says. \u201cIt became a large-scale transformation [in which] everyone had a part to play.\u201d\n\nAs part of that, Liberty Mutual\u2019s infrastructure team needed to be reshaped, as it no longer needed to maintain the same expanse of hardware that it had managed over the years. Instead, the infrastructure team was transformed into a centralized digital services unit with a global mandate focused on cloud capabilities to be leveraged across the company.\n\nCaldas says infrastructure professionals previously had been focused on working with and supporting the company\u2019s business units, \u201cbut they didn\u2019t have one single set of strategies with one roadmap on where they were going.\u201d\n\nUnder the new structure, where the new digital services team has a global mandate, they are creating repeatable processes that the entire company can easily access and use, which \u201cgenerates that flywheel on the speed of delivery,\u201d Caldas says.\n\nMoreover, the digital services team, because it is centralized, does this more efficiently, saving costs she says. And the team is able to do so more effectively, as team members are able to hone their skills, refine processes, and thus deliver high quality results.\n\n\u201cOur Global Digital Services [GDS] team is a centralized function that ensures critical business applications are always available. With over 70% of Liberty Mutual\u2019s application and infrastructure footprint operating in the public cloud, GDS has oversight of the company\u2019s global cloud and DevOps architecture and operations, helping the company work faster,\u201d Caldas says.\n\nOther IT teams then focus on delivering solutions for business needs.\n\n\u201cWe have technology teams who are also focused on driving outcomes for our core business units with a mission of delivering differentiating capabilities in service of our customers, agents, clients and partners,\u201d Caldas explains.\n\nOn a similar note, Liberty Mutual IT leaders have also created a centralized cybersecurity and operational resilience team focused a global mandate to ensure \u201csecure, stable systems.\u201d\n\nCaldas adds: \u201cToday, we are aligned as a global organization oriented around a single set of strategies, roadmaps, and vision statements about where we are going. Everything is digital-first for our customers, agents, clients, and partners, and our cloud journey brings it full circle in terms of how we use technology as a competitive enabler.\u201d\n\nConsolidating teams for better security operations\n\nFor Brad Stone, CIO of Booz Allen Hamilton, cloud enables the speedy delivery of needed capabilities and supports business innovation and transformation.\n\n\u201cWe have organized ourselves to make sure that we can capitalize on that,\u201d he says.\n\nThat includes how he has approached his security strategy, an area Stone believed needed to be transformed to ensure Booz Allen achieved the successes it sought from its cloud investments.\n\n\u201cYou\u2019ve got to set a strong foundation between your cybersecurity and your IT operations teams,\u201d he says, stressing that consistent security operations across the enterprise helps identify and reduce risks.\n\nStone, who also oversees security, says security operations at Booz Allen had previously been structured under three infrastructure-based units: one supporting on-premises infrastructure, another supporting cloud, and a third supporting the company\u2019s software-as-a-service platforms.\n\nDespite all three teams reporting up a single leader, each team optimized for itself, resulting in individual stovepipes and technology inefficiencies, Stone says. Moreover, the differences between each stovepipe also meant more work for security teams trying to manage and mitigate risks. In fact, it fostered \u201ca legacy mindset\u201d as well as a fragmented approach with security thinking it needed certain tools for on-prem and others for SaaS and still others for commercial cloud.\n\n\u201cWe struggled with commonality, common visibility, and we just had too much churn,\u201d Stone says. So he collapsed the three infrastructure teams into one integrated infrastructure and compute team, so \u201cit was not on-prem versus cloud\u201d but instead \u201cmade it more of a team sport\u201d \u2014 with workers from each of the original three teams being cross-trained to break down the silos and work as a cohesive unit capable of supporting all flavors of infrastructure that exist at Booz Allen.\n\nThat work took about eight months, happening in 2021 and into 2022, Stone says, adding that the integrated infrastructure and compute team has enabled Stone to modernize security operations to better suit the company\u2019s mixed technical environment.\n\n\u201cOur security team could better integrate,\u201d he says. So instead of security operations addressing availability, reliability, and confidentiality requirements for each individual stovepipe, it could address that triad across the entire infrastructure landscape. That makes security both more effective and more efficient.\u201d\n\nTo illustrate this, Stone offers the following example: \u201cLet\u2019s say you have a critical vulnerability for an open source piece of software. When you have your different infrastructure run separately and you\u2019ve created some stovepipes between them, you have a harder time responding at the speed of the threat, to discovering and remediating,\u201d he says.\n\nBut by collapsing all three into an integrated infrastructure team, security is able to use common tools, a single IT service management solution and one configuration management database across the whole \u2014 upping the ability to discover and respond to security issues in a timely manner.