Cloud. Ask ten IT pros what exactly it means and you’ll get ten answers. Ask ten of your line of business executive peers what it means and you’ll get 30 or more.
Yes, “cloud” means a lot of things to a lot of businesses. But there’s some reason behind that relentless hype – real dollar savings across the enterprise, increased IT flexibility and adaptability, and the switch of IT spend from capital expense to operating expense that many organizations seek.
Almost every business would benefit from some of its IT workload being moved to the cloud. But to get the most out of this change in technology infrastructure, business would be wise to look across the enterprise and build a company-wide cloud strategy.
Here are four tips to help you get started.
- Define It
Yes, the quip off the top about everyone having a different definition of cloud is a bit of an exaggeration, but like most jokes, it has its roots in the truth. You might have a good grip on the definition of cloud and what it can do for your business, but don’t assume all of the internal stakeholders do. One executive may believe that the word “cloud” alone will solve all of their business problems and free up lots of cash to re-invest in the new executive lounge, while another may believe that “cloud” is nothing more than a place to send vacation pictures to free up hard drive space on the family computer.
Neither, of course, is correct. Educate early, gather opinions, and set the right expectations for what cloud can and will mean to your business. Make sure everyone who needs to be in on the decision-making process understands the terms you’re using and the lingo of the industry. Make sure they can differentiate and understand the strengths and weakness of public, private, and hybrid cloud.
As well as making sure everyone’s on the same page, this will help when it comes time to get input from your line-of-business peers. Which brings us to….
- Come Together
A cloud strategy for an organization isn’t something IT should be delivering by itself. Executive leadership and departmental heads will be key in identifying overall business priorities, and they can use your help to determine if and how a new IT infrastructure might benefit the organization as a whole. Once everyone’s educated and on the same page as far as what cloud means and its potential benefits and challenges, it’s time to have a conversation across executive and departmental leadership about what direction makes the most sense.
This is a great opportunity to make sure IT is at the table for current and future discussions of overall business strategy, and a chance to further firm up IT as a driver of business value and business model innovation, and not just a “need-to-have” cost centre.
It’s also entirely possible that there are some “cloud mavericks” in your organization who have gone ahead and slapped down their credit card to pick up a cloud-based app or two that they feel will benefit the business. However, those apps are better considered as part of the overall cloud strategy. By showing all key stakeholders they have a seat at the table you’re making it more likely that those who have implemented some sort of “shadow IT” will bring it into the light where it can be properly assessed, managed, and secured by IT professionals.
- Think Long Term
While everyone loves the cost-savings potential of the cloud — it’s the new outsourcing! – it’s really much more about business agility. But that’s not all it is. The cloud can (and probably should) mean solutions are quicker to deploy than in a traditional IT environment. But the combination of cost savings and speed to deployment can lead to hasty decision-making that won’t deliver the most benefit to the business in the long-term. That’s the point about of IT defining a cloud strategy. Don’t be afraid to pump the brakes and ask the tough questions about whether a given decision is being made too hastily to consider long-term ramifications.
- Get Help
Building a comprehensive cloud strategy that will define IT infrastructure and drive business value for your enterprise long into the future can be a daunting task. Fortunately, organizations such as Rogers can help you with cloud readiness assessments and services delivered by professionals who have helped many enterprises in a variety of industries across Canada take just such a big step.
With the right help, you can use the cloud revolution as an opportunity to plot a chart to make technology a key business enabler and center of innovation, increase the value of IT to the business, and build long-term value.
Have at it!