Much of our personal life resides in the cloud – our dating profiles, email trails, cherished photographs and even our life savings. For most people, this is now the norm. But businesses want a part of the action too – migrating to the cloud means data can be accessed from anywhere, faster and with more flexibility. Since the initial, overarching concept of the ‘cloud’ was developed in the 1960s, the technology has come a long way and is virtually unrecognisable compared to where it began.
We’re currently at a point where business leaders don’t necessarily care how technology is delivered. Instead, they want results and they want them fast – ideally at a lower cost and with more malleability than their legacy system. Improved business agility and speed of implementation are key benefits that should be taken into account when a firm looks to move to the cloud.
What’s the problem?
Cloud services are proven to give a competitive edge – from increasing efficiency to greater security – so why haven’t more organisations deployed a cloud-first approach? In short, most people are scared of change. Implementing new technology, and then making use of it, is one of the biggest obstacles for executives, as employees often resist the change. So, what is the point in a technically perfect deployment if employees don’t take advantage of the system? This is where a collaborative, consensus-building CIO can lay the groundwork for success, well before a deployment is set to go live.
Buy-in from the top down
When looking to deploy new technologies, getting buy-in from the C-suite is no longer a nicety but a necessity. It is imperative to have their support if they are to sell the long-term vision of transitioning to the cloud to their team. CIOs must adopt a collaborative approach, paving the way for success by ensuring all employees are on the same page. This will increase uptake and longevity in the long run, and after all, it’s the CIO’s job to get staff to use the system effectively.
One of the main misperceptions amongst senior executives is that company data is safer on owned premises. But proximity no longer equates to security – dominating the enterprise landscape, cloud solutions provide an economically sustainable option. Additionally, the need to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is encouraging some companies to move to the cloud sooner rather than later. Compliance is a concern, particularly in the financial sector, and this is driving cloud adoption.
Once common cloud misconceptions have been addressed, the senior team need to get buy-in on the vision from the rest of the business. It is only at this point that you can effectively choose what technology is best – this is an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way business is done. CIOs have the ability to lead the conversation away from specific, individual technologies, towards shaping and fulfilling the organisation’s wider digital agenda. This allows them to add value, both today and in the future.
Engage, collaborate, train
As with any technological deployment – particularly when it affects the whole company – CIOs need to gather feedback and input from all business areas that will be using the cloud, from finance to product marketing. Communicating clearly ensures everyone feels involved, whilst also having the opportunity to raise concerns and questions if needed.
The same educational, inclusive, and collaborative approach should be used across all jobs at all levels, however there are extra sensitivities concerning IT personnel. A move to the cloud can make IT staff worry about what their role will look like moving forwards, as well as their job security. The IT team need to actively help with the transition to cloud, rather than be bystanders in the process – working centrally with IT will ensure strong collaboration and a successful project in the long-term.
Training is also important, not only for understanding the incoming cloud system, but for modernising existing applications and guaranteeing they run efficiently. A ‘lift-and-shift’ approach won’t work when it comes to legacy systems vs. cloud. And it’s vital to emphasise to IT staff that because business users are going through the same transformation, there are likely to be new opportunities to collaborate. New places will emerge where IT skills can be used to drive the business forward that don’t exist in the traditional ‘stand up and power up servers’ world of the past.
Facing the future
Technology is always changing and innovation is constantly on the horizon. Companies that have successfully adopted cloud-first systems are now using agile infrastructures to evolve the business, faster than we’ve previously seen.
CIOs who implement the best business tools, whilst clearly communicating to overcome internal resistance, will be on track to not only bring their organisation success, but to also have a long, meaningful and fruitful career. Ultimately, upgrading to the cloud empowers people at all levels of the company—including IT—to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, and cloud is the heartbeat that should be pumping at the core of any modern enterprise.