One of the greatest things about product releases and the excitement they draw, is the opportunity to sit down and talk with customers. Yes, customers want to talk to us about what’s new, but more importantly, they want to share incredible stories about their journeys. As you listen to these stories, it becomes crystal clear the “technology knife fights” vendors get into pale in comparison to the economics and business realities these businesses face. Let’s unpack what this means.
Digital Transformation – it’s not just a buzzword, it’s the new reality. Every organization in every industry is taking big strides to apply technology to their business. The truth is, it’s not even a choice anymore; it’s a key vehicle to gaining competitive advantage, and in many cases, a mode of survival. I remember a few years ago when Walmart, on a financial analyst call stated, “we are a technology company”. Yes, they know retail better than most anyone, but their future success was dependent on transitioning to this digital age. Data is now one of the most critical and valuable assets organizations can own, but only if it is leveraged to drive operations and delivers insights.
Digital transformation presents an interesting dilemma for businesses – they have substantial technology investment decisions to make, and concerns about their ability to consume and onboard that investment in technology in a manner that isn’t overly disruptive. Cloud becomes one of the most obvious solutions organizations look to – consume only what you need, scale up to meet growing demands, and put the power in the hands of employees – what an incredible promise. But there are organizational realities that must be accounted for, especially when injecting technology like cloud.
Skillsets and Process Mismatches
Most organizations have already made substantial technology investments and as a result, resources have been hired with the skillsets tied to those investments. New technology and sweeping changes require new investments in reskilling and can be bad for employee satisfaction, morale, and retention. Additionally, existing processes likely add tremendous value and are often the product of extensive research and applied learnings over the years. Will you miss these processes if they are removed? What should they be replaced with? If these questions are not answered for both your skillsets and processes, then the result is often the injection of a lot of risk into the organization, or costly remediation efforts.
There is vast competition for technical talent. These resources are being bombarded with tantalizing offers to join the big brand tech organizations and up-and-coming startups. Your business could potentially face an uphill battle securing the best and brightest. It could necessitate the need to pay a premium for some tech roles. This can result in not having the right skillset in house to make use of all these new technologies.
Putting Innovation on Hold
The whole point of digitally transforming is to apply technology to the business and leverage data as a competitive advantage. The longer it takes to digest the infusion of technology into the business, and apply it to business activities means the longer it takes to see the fruits of your digital transformation. The larger the scale of the change, the longer it takes if your IT staff get bogged down in a protracted migration or re-platforming effort that can have a material impact on a quarter or fiscal year.
Elevating Your Cloud Strategy
It is essential for your organization to land on a pragmatic cloud strategy that applies a filter that looks at your people, process, and objectives while selecting the technologies to onboard and to what degree. It’s not so much what “operational nirvana” looks like. It’s a matter of what can feasibly be accomplished.
- Take a look at your existing processes and see what can be leveraged and ported to the cloud to lower the friction of adoption and lower the complexity of the shift to a new operating environment.
- Don’t get sucked into bleeding edge technologies and the promises they might hold if there isn’t a corresponding way to incorporate them into your business. Search for solutions that align with your organizations’ resources or for widely adopted technologies that offer a wide selection of resources.
- Cloud offers a lot of great things, but you shouldn’t let cloud exuberance get in the way of an orderly transition to this new environment. Applications should be vetted, strategies should be clear, and early wins should be established before attempting massive overhauls.
It is important to keep your options open by deploying in hybrid environments that offer portability and reduce the management overhead of maintaining two or more clouds. Many CIOs we’ve talked to indicate that even when they make a substantial investment in the cloud, they have maintained facilities to mitigate the risk should a cloud exodus be required later.
By applying a methodology that accounts for business imperatives and sustainability in your technology selections and investments, you can avoid the pitfall of over pivoting in your desire to put a compelling technology in place. At the end of the day, technology needs to serve the business need, even if you’re now a technology company.