5 Ways To Become A Cloud Powerhouse

Source – forbes.com

We all know when looking at cloud-based services one by one – online survey tools, online backup, online customer files – they are worth their weight in gold. But how much are they paying off at scale – for the enterprise? A recent study may finally be shedding some light on how cloud is changing the economics of the enterprise.

In the early days of cloud computing as we know it (dating back a decade or so), cloud-native applications were understandably in the minority and on the periphery of enterprises, as it would take time to build a critical mass that would demonstrate cloud’s efficacy on an enterprise scale. However, for organizations that have made heavy investments in traditional on-premises IT systems, there is potentially great cost in shifting existing applications to cloud – and thus, great risk. Would moving to an online subscription model pay off, and make up for the discomfort and disruption involved in migrating systems and re-orienting processes, and—most importantly – people.

Thus, today’s great emphasis on hybrid computing – keeping one foot on-premises, while dipping the other foot (or sometimes just toe) into the public cloud realm.

A recent study published by Capgemini finds those enterprise that do dive head-first into cloud services – going all-digital from the ground up – are seeing impressive gains as a result of their moves. The survey, which involved 902 executives and was co-developed with Longitudinal Research, finds about 20% of enterprises these days can be considered to be running on “cloud-native” infrastructures.

The report’s authors define cloud-native applications as those “built to perform optimally in the cloud,” and are composed of individual microservices that are independent of one another, versus monolithic on-premises applications. The leading companies highlighted in the survey consists of those building 20% or more of their applications within a cloud-native environment. (On average, 43% of new applications)

On average, one-sixth (15%) of respondents’ firms’ new applications are built today in a cloud-native environment, and 32% of new applications will be cloud-native within the next three years. “The key driver for this is the desire to improve agility and scalability and increase velocity, thereby reducing time to market,” then report adds.

The cloud-native leaders, the Capgemini team explains, “are developing and deploying applications faster than the others and are further ahead in monetizing their application programming interfaces.” For these leaders, the results are impressive:

  • 84% say cloud native has increased revenue and reduced operating costs
  • 83% say they are ahead of their peers in terms of financial performance
  • 87% say cloud native has enabled better customer experiences
  • 80% say their time-to-market for new products and services is down.

Of course, one can’t simply drop a new technology on top of a calcified, moribund organization and expect miracles. The change has to come from within first; an organization with forward-looking, forward-thinking leaders can expect the best result from technology.

The Capgemini authors provide advice for enterprises seeking to develop more robust portfolios of cloud-native applications:

Change attitudes and practices before changing technology: Going cloud native is “less a matter of technology adoption and more one of inculcating new skills and changing old attitudes and practices,” the Capgemini authors state. Of course, being a catalyst for such high-level transformation may be a challenge for many cloud proponents, who may not necessarily have training in persuasion and negotiating. “Convincing business peers of the value of cloud native is likely to be as tough as overcoming monolithic-era attitudes within IT,” the report cautions.

Build up new skillsets: In the Capgemini study, skills emerged as the most significant challenge to going cloud native, cited by 70% of executives. The report advises companies to acquire new sets of skills, such as Platform-as-a-Service. It isn’t just technical skills that are needed; cloud proponents will need to “become adept at communicating the value of cloud native to the C-suite and the rest of the business in understandable terms.” For instance, the report states, developers “must learn to be business thinkers, articulating value propositions, and demonstrating their revenue generating potential, as well as managing project costs and timelines as before.”

Lay out a cloud roadmap and ability to deliver growth. Cloud proponents will need to “challenge perceptions of the IT function as a cost center, and reposition their teams as innovation partners for the business, rather than simply custodians of existing systems,” the report advises. The key is to position the cloud infrastructure as the gateway to a nimbler, digital business.

Start small, and scale up. Start with a single program and small team to prove the value of the cloud engagement, the Capgemini team advises. “Skills learned from these pilot projects can then be fed into further initiatives on a more ambitious scale. The early pioneers can be leveraged as trainers, mentors, or evangelists when new team members take their first steps in agile development.”

Promote and facilitate a culture of innovation, collaboration, testing and learning. This ties into the first point, which points to the need to change the underlying culture of the organizations. To make use of fast and innovative technologies, the organization underneath needs to be innovative and fast.

Or, as the noted organizational consultant Mike Hammer one said: “Automate a mess, get an automated mess.” An enlightened corporate culture will produce enlightened technology.

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