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An incremental approach to cloud adoption ensures digital transformation success

By Bruce Arnold, Chief Executive Officer at Pivotal Data

As the key enabler of digital transformation, the business case for cloud migration is clear. Accordingly, cloud computing currently dominates boardroom discussion around the need to create future-ready businesses.

While most these discussions generally pertain to ‘when’, rather than ‘if’, CIOs, CTOs and CDOs still grapple with the complexities that surround cloud migration.

Considerations around the costs, governance implications and the pace and scale of cloud adoption define how organisations make the transition to the hosted environment. More specifically, the questions of ‘what’ and ‘where’ tends to keep C-level executives up at night, as they attempt to quantify the impact that a rip-and-replace cloud transformation project will have on their business.

Thankfully, the practicalities around cloud adoption can be greatly simplified when organisations embrace a phased and augmented cloud transformation roadmap.

Importantly, a cloud migration strategy implemented in stages ensures business continuity and uninterrupted operations, as nothing needs to be switched off. Services are simply switched over.

And by first migrating non-core strategic applications into the hosted environment, such as a contact centre solution or collaboration suit, organisations immediately create a more agile operation that is better positioned to respond and adapt to shifting market conditions.

This piecemeal approach also offers businesses the opportunity to sweat the sunk costs and investments they made into legacy technology to maximise return on investment, while retaining control of their core systems.

When a business is finally ready to fully transition away from legacy, monolithic, tightly-coupled systems into the cloud environment, a hybrid model is best. This ensures they retain control of mission-critical systems or applications by deploying an on-premise cloud solution, while also creating opportunities to integrate with other systems hosted in the public cloud to access functionality and capabilities that can deliver an immediate competitive advantage.

A move into a private cloud with existing licensing, before transitioning to a public environment with new application licensing models also allows businesses to get comfortable with the idea of handing the management of their systems over to an expert managed services provider.

This blended private and public cloud deployment model empowers organisations to better manage their risk exposure during digital transformation projects, and allows them to take a drip-feed approach to change management within the organisation.

This is vital because this process is not just about the technology. Rather than a failure of technology implementation, most digital transformation projects fail to achieve their objectives due to a lack of buy-in and adoption from employees.

When approaching cloud migration in a strategic manner, companies must address the people and processes in the equation to build a workable and, ultimately, successful cloud operating model. People naturally resist change, which is why companies should slowly introduce new user experiences and functionality at a pace and scale that staff feel comfortable with.

To ensure success with this incremental step-change approach to cloud adoption, companies should start the process with the internal IT department. Once the in-house technicians are comfortable with the technology, they become the internal champions of the transformation process. This serves to instill trust and confidence among the rest of the workforce and accelerates buy-in and adoption throughout the organisation.

And once all staff are on board with the concept of accessing and using certain cloud-based applications or systems, organisations can start to accelerate the rollout and delivery of end-to-end cloud implementations, effectively moving from a piecemeal experimentation phase to widespread adoption.

However, none of this is possible without thorough planning and expert implementation. Given the complexity and mission-critical nature of cloud migration, companies require a clear vision and strategy to plot their journey to the cloud.

It is, therefore, imperative that businesses take a consultative and collaborative approach to digital transformation by partnering with expert providers that have the skills and a proven track record in the hosted and managed services space to help plan, orchestrate and execute the strategy.

When any business, from SMEs to enterprise customers, opt for a strategically-driven incremental approach to cloud adoption over time, they greatly increase their chances of success. This is vital because transitioning to a cloud-enabled business has become a strategic non-negotiable to ensure continued growth and competitiveness in the digital economy.