A successful digital transformation that leverages Cloud technologies is about more than simply slashing the capital IT budget and handing over the operational costs to business units. And it’s about far more than simply changing where your applications run. Moving to the Cloud is an opportunity to transform your business operating model into one that is able to respond to new challenges faster than before, that can embrace new opportunities and empower the business to enter new markets.
- Further reading: Introduction to Enterprise Cloud Operating Models.
But that promised land isn’t one you simply arrive in by accident. Achieving a successful Cloud-enabled business transformation requires a rethink of how your business runs. It’s not about transplanting your systems but changing your organisation’s DNA. You can’t use the same processes and practices you would in a traditional data centre scenario. You need to optimise your operating model for the Cloud, or you’ll miss out on the speed, agility, and cost benefits that the Cloud promises.
A new relationship between technology and business
Many organisations are made up of people who are used to working in traditional ways. That’s why it’s natural that they fall into the trap of replicating what they are used to when moving to the Cloud. They think in terms of ownership, such as datacentres, hardware, licensing software (owned outright). For example, they rely on an accounting program that needs a commercial database system running in their data centre, with their own facilities management to ensure everything is secure, that the accountants can depreciate its value, etc.
These issues are covered off in a whitepaper from Contino called Introduction to Enterprise Cloud Operating Models.
However, in the Cloud world, a business could choose to leverage someone else’s platform, rather than doing all the heavy lifting themselves. If you aren’t in the business of IT, why would you want to run an IT business? The way this is run is via a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to deliver an application as part of a subscription, or provide the computing power and platform to run your application — sometimes called Platform as a Service (PaaS). But the Cloud has emerged as a proven strategy for the traditional, regulated enterprise.
Instead of taking existing applications — which traditionally are difficult to develop and update to changing needs — and moving them to the Cloud, it’s possible to rethink the entire application lifecycle. Businesses can start with a customer-centric business requirement. They can use software components and automation provided by Cloud providers and develop bespoke solutions that can be iterated later.
Rather than relying on complex, monolithic processes, businesses can create more agile and flexible applications that can more easily be adapted to changing business opportunities and challenges.
How many times has someone in your business asked “Can we do that?” only to be told the applications you have are too hard to change, or a new application will take too long to procure or develop?
The Cloud can change the answer to that question. But it requires a new way of working — where business units, software developers and infrastructure experts work together in cross-functional teams. This partnership between the development and operational teams is at the heart of DevOps.
Build a lighthouse
Going on a cloud journey might be new to the organisation, so to win the hearts and minds of people, you must prove what it can deliver and bring people on the journey. “Think big, act small” to start, which means building a lighthouse — a small proof-of-concept project such as a new application on a new Cloud platform under the new operating model. This will be a beacon for the business that shows the new model can work.
Working with a trusted partner, like Contino, your staff can undertake a reskilling journey so that they lead the lighthouse project with you, and become advocates for your new operating model and the adoption of Cloud technologies to the rest of the business. They can then coach and mentor their colleagues and help establish Centres of Excellence to ensure the lessons they learn are shared as best practice for your business.
Start at the top
The first step in the journey towards a new operating model is Leadership who can nurture the beginning of the cloud journey e.g by providing executive sponsorship and education including establishing a common language. A great business case needs executive sponsorship in order to highlight its importance to the organisation. Without senior management support, it is extremely difficult to engage the business to change and recognise that the new operating model is superior to the old ways of working.
It’s critical that enterprises start the process of executive engagement and planning their lighthouse project early. It can take a long time to acquire the skills, modernise the architecture and change the processes in order to maximise the investment. The faster you engage the leadership, the faster you realise the time to value for your Cloud-based operating model.
Where to start?
So what is the right lighthouse project to start your Cloud transformation journey?
According to Craig Howe, Managing Director APAC at Contino, “At Contino, we define lighthouse projects as the ones focused on implementation, fast delivery and creating a positive culture for transformation. The right lighthouse project is short in duration, with clearly defined outcomes, has high business sponsorship and importance, is small in size and measurable success metrics. These lighthouse projects serve as a model for other similar projects within the broader digital transformation initiative.
Howe says that as lighthouse projects must be metrics-driven, they are opportunities to prove to your organisation what could be achieved by taking advantage of new transformational technologies and new ways of working.
“Ideally selecting a lighthouse project that will have executive buy-in and high visibility, with clear goals and success metrics.”
Businesses should look for a partner and not a supplier, says Howe, who through shared responsibility and outcomes, building their capability and upskilling of their people, can ideally help you operate on your own in the future.
“At Contino, we advise, build and upskill our customers. To achieve this we have a unique approach, which is exemplified by our squad model. We work with our customers through a cross-functional team, from every area of our business may it be technology, sales, marketing, talent, people, and finance,” he says.
“We support our customers to build their own skills and capabilities, and our consultants work side by side with them to train and upskill their teams. This approach results in a scalable delivery model which forms the future foundations of clients’ digital transformation projects. It also improves customer experience and fosters innovation, as well as delivering cost savings. Most importantly, it enables us to form genuine relationships and strong partnerships with our customers.”
Howe told Which-50’s Digital Intelligence Unit, Contino works closely with partners like AWS to ensure that it customers have access to deep cloud expertise and some of the best technology available to make their transformation projects a success. “Contino is very invested in our partnership with AWS, being an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and having achieved four AWS competencies in Data & Analytics, DevOps, Migration and Financial Services. ”
This article is published by Which-50’s Digital Intelligence Unit (DIU) on behalf of Contino. DIU Members pay to share their expertise and insights with Which-50’s audience of senior executives.