I think of this quote frequently in my role as a cloud services consultant. The most sought-after leadership skills — a deep understanding of the business, the ability to form the right team, and a vision that’s realistic for the organization — are critical to successful cloud adoption.
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality — Warren Bennis
More specifically, IT leaders charged with moving a business to the cloud are responsible for ensuring the business strategy, and expected value are realized. As more enterprises are discovering first hand, adoption of cloud technology can relieve a number of on-premise software and hardware burdens. Yet achieving these goals depends on the knowledge of the business IT group and their vendor services team.
Through my decades of software services engagements in various industries, the ingredients for success have become clear. Here are four key areas where IT leaders should devote their cloud migration focus:
- Configuration over customizations — a new way of thinking. When you adopt cloud technology, you gain access to the most current functionality. The painful, time-consuming upgrades and related customization management headaches are replaced by forever-modern software via the cloud. This is an exciting new reality, and IT organizations will need to develop new practices to maximize this opportunity. The time and effort saved could be diverted to more innovation within the organization. With the agility of a cloud-based system, you can quickly launch new services to new markets or customer segments—and easily deactivate them should business needs change.
- A full view of the cloud’s value. While cloud solutions can streamline expansions—due to an acquisition or new regional presence, for example—this is only scratching the surface. An IT leader’s cloud research should move beyond edge applications and ancillary concerns to focus on mission-critical applications. A growing number of businesses of all sizes are experiencing a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and myriad business benefits by making a comprehensive shift to the cloud. Companies with limited vision will enjoy corresponding rewards.
- Learning your vendor inside out. Without fully understanding the services a cloud application vendor offers, your company will miss out on advantages that could jumpstart your business. For example, there may be cloud-based point applications that extend a solution you currently use on premise. There may also be a robust industry-specific solution that directly improves business processes and supports global capabilities. Make sure the vendor you choose has a proven enterprise application track record and partners with the right infrastructure component to be your backbone.
- Determine if gradual migration is the best option for your business. While the jury is certainly still debating the benefits of cloud-based business applications, adopting point solutions—such as human capital management and customer relationship management—is a reasonable way to start. Dipping a toe in the cloud, so to speak, can make your internal stakeholders more comfortable and accepting of broader plans over time. Moving mission-critical applications such as an industry-specific ERP will bring you a wide range of rich functionality, so it’s important to map the best path to long-term success for your organization.
Think big. The sky’s the limit with cloud technology.
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