There is no one right answer to the question of what powers a company’s digital transformation. But according to Amine El-Karkri of FX Innovation, those with top-tier technology that lack vision and most importantly the right skills will struggle to innovate and thus fail to move the needle on their transformation.
“Before a business makes any major moves it has to know what it is, what it has in-house, and where it wants to go,” said El-Karkri. “Vision is key, and it begins with asking the right questions. Whether it’s ‘What do we want to achieve?’ or ‘What should the end result look like?’ a company that wants to grow and innovate must look honestly at its entire operation and decide where it wants to go and what it wants to be.”
Founded in 2002, FX Innovation helps organizations in these critical transformations. From connecting business goals with IT platforms to delivering and managing technological foundations, FX Innovation helps businesses perform in the digital era.
FX Innovation was included in a mid-market context in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud IT Transformation Services, which talks about companies dealing with mid-market constraints that more often than not lack top-tier IT skills. Such companies, said El-Karkri, nonetheless want to be able to scale, and need an expert or experts to come in and manage it all for them. “This is our wheelhouse,” said El-Karkri, “and it’s why Cascades ended up working with us – because we can get you there.”
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A Move to Innovate
Even companies like Cascades, which offers sustainable, innovative and value-added packaging, hygiene and recovery solutions, want to innovate. But they know that in order to do that – to be able to derive insights from data, and from these insights make better business decisions and seize new opportunities – they must first get their cloud situation in order.
Until recently, Cascades had an obsolete IT infrastructure. They needed to make changes – and quickly. “Time was very much of the essence,” said El-Karkir. “They had started their migration project years ago with the establishment of a cloud foundation ‘landing zone’ but by the time we entered the picture they were at the point of needing the project to be closed off quickly so as to avoid incurring financial penalties.”
Initially Cascades had started their migration project with another partner, but only a few months later Cascades decided to make a change. FX Innovation was referred as a trusted partner that had the experience and most importantly the collective skill-set to pull off the migration smoothly and in a short period of time.
In its April 2021 paper From Hype to Results: The Case for Prioritizing Cloud Computing to Accelerate the Digitization of the Canadian Economy, FX Innovation was clear that leveraging the potential of new digital innovations “requires an underlying technological infrastructure. Cloud computing articulates this infrastructure, by providing the scale and flexibility required to meet the computational and storage requirements of these new digital advances. Cloud computing is therefore a foundational tool for many businesses aspiring to greater productivity, growth and resilience.”
El-Karkri said Cascades’ migration was “massive – a high-speed lift-and-shift. Over a number of weeks, and using AWS’ CloudEndure Migration Factory Solution, we were able to migrate a large number of workloads rapidly and without any real hiccups.”
Closing the Gaps
While Cascades, like many organizations in Canada, may recognize the need to transform on an ongoing basis, oftentimes there is a skills gap.
“At a time of disruption,” said FX Innovation Partner Manager Pascal Bouthilier, “businesses must have the skills at their disposal to at least keep pace and to complete digital transformation initiatives. It was our own experience with consistently finding applicants lacked up-to-date cloud computing skills (skills that for the most part aren’t yet taught in post-secondary courses) that led to the formation of CloudCampus.”
CloudCampus, which came out of a partnership between FX Innovation, the University of Ottawa, and CENGN (Canada’ Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks), is a Cloud Expert training program aimed at developing and requalifying the tech talent Canadian companies need to do more for themselves in the era of rapid change.
“It’s the first program of its kind in Canada,” said Bouthilier. “When you get down to the level of micro credentials, you’re talking about those finer skills that close gaps between what people are able to do coming out of university and what companies need them to be able to do from day one on the job.”
“Canadian companies want to do better when it comes to leveraging the cloud in digital transformation,” said El-Karkri. “This is where CloudCampus comes in, as a means of developing raw talent. Companies that hire these micro-credentialed individuals will become more agile and efficient – ready to grow and innovate, ready for tomorrow.”
El-Karkri and Bouthilier agreed that while having the right mix of tech skills – whether in-house or by partnering with companies like FX Innovation – is an important key to digital transformation, vision must underpin everything.
“Know your business before you make big plans,” said El-Karkri. “Know why you want to go after one thing or another. Don’t be one of those companies that thinks ‘We’re going to move because we must.’ If you have a vision, if you’ve built up the scaffolding before making move one, you’ll know your reason for everything. It will be self-evident. Clear vision will lead to clear actions by everyone in your organization, which in the end becomes clear results.”