Cloud migrations are typically infrastructure-led IT initiatives, as opposed to being driven by business priorities. This often results in the real business needs being sidelined in favor of IT value, and ease of implementation as the most recognizable levers for facilitating the discussion on prioritizing and sequencing cloud migration activities. That’s because “value” based on the direct infrastructure and application services benefits is easier to determine and generally the most familiar area to IT leadership.
This is not the right way to approach sequencing decisions. It is too shallow a view of the business benefits. Instead, the IT or infrastructure team leading the migration should aim to quantify and qualify the many direct business benefits of cloud, driven by speed, scalability, and cost transparency, through collaboration with the business. This is key for making informed decisions.
This collaboration, however, appears to be a stumbling block on many cloud journeys, and has the potential to hinder business growth. I say this based on several conversations with enterprise clients recently. One had re-thought its global business strategy because IT didn’t have a presence in certain geographies. This meant data residency requirements couldn’t be met. But if IT had asked the question “what regions are you planning to operate in?” it would have immediately become clear that prioritizing a cloud option in these geographies was an enabler of growth. Instead, IT had become a barrier.
Turning around this situation demands a dialogue between IT and the business. And it might lead to some difficult conversations. For example, IT needs to ask, “where are we holding you back?” In the scenario above, the answer would have been, “You’re preventing the business from offering existing products and services in new areas because of your inability to comply with data residency requirements.”
Aligning technology choices with the business need means talking to your business development people across different business units, understanding the organization’s expansion strategy, and identifying the key IT solutions that are working well – or failing – in support of this strategy.
With this dialogue IT has an opportunity to prioritize the best-fit IT solution for each business unit. For example, adopting cloud might mean no longer having to step away from business opportunities that require large-scale computing power for a short duration. Or it could help a sales division win client business pursuits because new cloud capabilities allow for rapid ingestion of a client’s big data and a quicker path to delivering client results. And it might yield new business that would have been lost because questions on the associated IT costs could not be quickly asked and answered, whereas with cloud, allowing for anytime, anywhere access to data, the questions can be answered on the spot.
This business-IT dialogue is essential to defining a well-constructed cloud transformation business case. At Capgemini we incorporate this dialogue in our Cloud Benefit Reference Model, combining it with insight into the costs, speed, scalability and transparency benefits likely to accrue in traditional infrastructure and application services areas. We also look at how cloud might have an impact on project delivery, where benefits can include improved resource leverage due to a reduced project delivery risk. These are all transformational benefits that a business case should investigate. It’s how to properly assess the enterprise wide “value” rating used to prioritize activity sequencing.
Crucially, an honest dialogue between IT and the various business stakeholders is how to get the wider business energized on the cloud vision. By demonstrating how cloud can help to fulfill business strategy, remove barriers to expansion or sales success, and enable more flexiblity, IT will find a receptive audience in those who need to leverage cloud to reach their business destination and justify the move.
(About the author: David B Campbell is a senior manager at Capgemini. This post originally appeared on his Capgemini blog, which can be viewed here)
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