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The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered the pivotal role of cloud infrastructure. Over a few weeks, and in some cases overnight, firms had to quickly adapt to the disruption of global lockdowns. They needed to ramp up their services and serve customers and employees remotely. In such scenarios, having a cloud strategy, or as Gartner explains ‘a concise viewpoint on the role of cloud computing in a firm’, proves expedient. But how do you create a bankable cloud strategy? In this post, we look at five ways firms can create a cloud strategy and drive value across stakeholders- employees, customers, and vendors.

Five Steps to Crafting a Robust Cloud Strategy

1. Envision the Future of the Business

The urgent need today, more than ever, is for CXOs and leaders to boldly envision the future of their businesses. This helps unearth the creative potential of its employees and draw new customers to its innovative and differentiated offerings.

This involves two major steps:

  • The ‘Why’ of the business: As Simon Sinek explains, this is the purpose for which the firm has come into existence and the driver behind all it does. A clear articulation of the purpose draws the right talent and customers to the business.
  • SMART Goals: At this stage, we break down the purpose into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals across various divisions of the firm. This helps make an abstract purpose real and tangible. Some examples of SMART goals include:
    1. Marketing: “By the end of the year, we want to reach 2 million app downloads.”
    2. Sales: “The sales team aims to secure ten large (+$1 million) accounts by Q3 of 2022.”
    3. HR: “Lower employee attrition by 5% in this quarter.”

Bringing together leaders and visualizing the future of the business is foundational to a successful cloud strategy. To accomplish these futuristic goals, it is likely that cloud technologies will play a vital role and create new opportunities and synergies across different departments. The cloud strategy simply acts as an enabler to push the firm closer to achieving the goals and vision set by leaders.

2. Understand the Current Context

With the purpose of the business and SMART goals activated, it is critical to assess the current state of affairs across the business. This includes analyzing market trends, customer spending behavior, IT infrastructure, and the firm’s ability to respond to black swan events. Such analysis requires the focus of leaders across the firm. Cloud strategy should not be restricted to the IT division; rather there needs to be a unified approach driven jointly by business and IT.

Here are a few questions to ask as you consider each area:

  1. Business What is existing customer usage and spend patterns across different products? How is this likely to change in the short term and long term? Is the business in a position to adapt to changing customer behaviors? For example, how will an e-commerce firm respond to a rapid surge in traffic and orders? How have competitors’ capabilities and offerings changed over the last year?
  2. IT What is the current state of digital assets, applications, licenses, data warehouses, and other IT assets? What is the track record of IT when it comes to security and compliance? How are IT staff resources being allocated? For example, how are employees allocated between maintenance and development operations?

3. Research the Economic Value, Costs, and Risks of Cloud Technology

Utilizing cloud strategy is likely to unlock tremendous economic value for businesses. McKinsey estimates by 2030, cloud computing will unlock over $1 trillion in value for Fortune 500 firms. However, the benefits must not be assumed. Adopting a cloud model is a significant capital investment and sound research will promote confidence across leadership. Such research will help communicate the diverse ways harnessing the cloud will bring value across the firm.

There are two broad areas from which benefits are likely to accrue:

  • Effectiveness: Harnessing the cloud drives efficiencies by reducing reliance on expensive on-premise technology. It also lowers the downtime of IT applications. Such capital savings can then be deployed to other areas of business.
  • Innovation: Utilizing the cloud also creates innovative opportunities. For example, firms can prototype faster and ‘fail fast’ at a far lower cost than traditional IT makes possible. Cloud technologies also unlock the possibility of incorporating Augmented Reality, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) across products and services.

At this stage, identifying the risk and compliance of different business processes is prudent. In some cases, government regulations require customer data reside within on-premise data centers rather than through third-party vendor solutions.

4. Communicate the Vision for Cloud Across the Business

Since the cloud will likely bring change (disruption and innovation) to many parts of the business, clear and constant communication will express its value and vision. Email campaigns, webinars, town halls, and other forums are tools that can help build consensus and address questions and concerns.

Here are two key ways to make communication an integral part of your cloud strategy:

  • Identify cloud champions in different departments across the business. They will serve as the point of contact for questions, concerns, and strategic opportunities that arise.
  • Design communication based on the audience to boost understanding and a sense of engagement. For example, different strategies might be employed for the HR department vs the Marketing Team.

5. Create a Clear Implementation Roadmap

Implementing a cloud strategy can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years based on the size of the firm, the current state of IT, and the complexity of business operations. That’s why it is helpful to have an implementation roadmap that has buy-in from all key stakeholders.

Such an implementation roadmap can include:

  1. Prioritization of the different business processes that will transition to the cloud. This must include a risk assessment for each process and a contingency plan.
  2. The migration schedule for business processes along with the allocation plan of key resources (capital, people, etc.).
  3. The benchmarks and KPIs that the firm will use to evaluate the cloud strategy and consult to make changes based on business needs.

Conclusion

Harnessing the cloud is a game-changer for most businesses. It helps employees work remotely, lowers the cost of operation, and helps businesses adapt to changing customer behavior. However, it requires a clear cloud strategy that takes into account the complexity of the business and has buy-in across leadership. Such a strategy sharpens focus, stirs creative offerings for customers, and boosts ROI for the business.

At Dressler Consulting, we partner with global clients to leverage cloud computing services and create new possibilities. To know more, visit Dressler Consulting.

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