I speak with many business leaders about “the cloud” and how best to use it to improve collaboration. Quite often, discussions end up getting into specific services and technologies but I always try to ensure that some basic considerations are a primary focus – namely People, Processes and Culture. This video is a great overview and insight into how important it is to get the foundations right, and what questions you should ask before you start looking for a specific solution or ‘technology’.
The Three Considerations
People are your company’s greatest asset and you need to enable them fully and effectively. Increasingly, they “vote with their feet.” They use their own solutions or those provided directly by their departments instead of official IT options (shadow IT). For many reasons public cloud services are a big hit, but you can’t afford for the virtualized environment you have painstakingly created to be used only for functional or legacy workloads. Nobody can afford a discrete, separate underutilized platform -- unappreciated and with hidden value.
Everyone is working smarter, faster, and across an increasing array of applications. We all have preferred “tools of the trade” and it is important that we have access to them, wherever we are. That said, for an organization to run effectively and efficiently there needs to be a level of standardization – both inside the organization and in collaboration with customers and partners. Standardization ensures performance, availability, security, and management control. Any solution must balance user needs with alignment to business processes and applications.
People often overlook a good cultural fit. Or technology becomes the big draw because of the dazzling array of features and functionality. A myopic focus on technology can have a catastrophic effect on the success of any cloud implementation and restrict how it can transform business agility and customer responsiveness. Technology must suit the organization, not the other way around. Consulting with the business is an essential step in ascertaining how IT fits, and in making sure that technology optimizes the collaboration experience. Getting the right balance is critical.
Plan Your Journey Before You Start
Many leaders I speak with are nervous about their journey and in particular their first steps with the cloud. As with any journey, if you look after the important things, the rest will follow.
Think carefully about what your people want and need. How they work, both alone and with others. Understand how it feels to be part of or work with your organization.
Whatever steps you take, they need to be on your terms and at your pace. Work out how you want to operate in this new world and the technology that will help you. You need to end up with the right technology platform to underpin your cloud, with a complementary operating and sourcing model that works for you.
My advice on first steps:
- Understand all your options: Get to know the providers and their solutions (infrastructure vendors and IaaS/SaaS providers).
- Know your “standards” and open-source platforms: Identify which are important when creating an open and extensible environment. (OpenStack, APIs, and SDKs are the catalysts for cloud innovation.)
- Think about the benefits of hybrid environments: How you will consolidate and control your services across on-premises/private clouds, public clouds and with third party applications and services.
- Learn what is possible, and how you can do things: Ask lots of questions and question the answers.
But don’t be scared by the prospect of a daunting journey. We can help, and so can our partners.
What has worked for you? What other advice you have received and how has it helped?