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How to adopt cloud with conviction

How to adopt cloud with conviction

Accenture’s Jordan Griffiths offers some advice

The uptake of cloud computing in Australia is on the rise – we have one of highest adoption rates in the world. In fact, 88 per cent of APAC directors identify cloud as a business priority.

As organisations move away from traditional data centre computing, they are recognising the flexibility, cost savings, security and control provided by this IT ecosystem.

Netflix, Spotify and Airbnb are just a few of the world-renowned brands born on the cloud. They are universally admired for their ability to adapt to changing marketplace conditions.

But it would be unfair to compare these new entrants against companies that are tied down with old and complex legacy systems. Many Australian companies race ahead into the high-speed world of cloud and assume the job’s done, when it’s only the beginning.

Australian companies can’t simply flip a switch to put their operations on a cloud migration. Leaders need to integrate their new, agile cloud organisation with their legacy operations. This is a critical process, which may require leaders to reengineer their legacy business.

But it doesn’t stop there. Leaders must also retain the institutional legacy knowledge (and data), while developing new skills and strategies for the future.

Achieving the right balance can be challenging, but several companies have successfully integrated legacy and agile resources. Take Netflix, who began life online allowing customers to rent movies over the internet and then receive their DVDs in the mail.

After a significant drop in business in 2015, Netflix transformed its legacy DVD mail business to a cloud-focused live streaming system. In making this move, Netflix proved it could support a new business with a new operating model without facing major legacy conflicts.

This company demonstrates that moving to the cloud takes time. In many cases, it can take up to three years depending on the scale, existing legacy infrastructure and chosen environment (private, public or hybrid cloud). This is a critical transition period that requires strong leadership, operational alignment and a clear roadmap. But most important, it requires leaders to adopt the cloud with conviction.

Without these elements, the project can stall and face stumbling blocks, leading to major cost implications and widespread inefficiencies.

A recent survey of 140 executives revealed problems their private clouds faced. Over 30 percent, by far the largest response, said their company’s failure to change their operational model was the primary stumbling block. Clearly, agile clouds need agile processes, and people can either become supporters or roadblocks on the road to cloud integration.

So how can organisations ensure seamless integration, agile processes and behavioural change during this critical period?

Accenture believes that there are three ways you can effectively manage your cloud strategy while always keeping your legacy organisation in mind:

Get your employees serious about the cloud

Getting your employees serious about the cloud starts with education. Leaders need to start implementing programs that upskill and train employees in relevant solutions, tools and apps. It is imperative that leaders make a “cloud first” pledge to plan future innovations with the technology as their base.

For example, NAB’s Cloud Guild is a cloud skills training program for NAB employees. The program is focused on Amazon Web Services’ offering and will cater to a range of skill levels. It aims to provide NAB employees with the relevant skills, across architecture, security, developers and big data.

Go agile

Leaders must also create a top-to-bottom agile organisation. This agility must move beyond the development phase, and should permeate every element of the company, including human resources, legal, finance, procurement, sales and marketing.

For example, leaders should manage projects and services using “sprints and scrums”, which is one of the most popular agile frameworks. Leaders should also clearly assign ownership responsibilities to create urgency and bolster speed.

Get rid of baggage

To reduce IT drag, leaders should embark on a mission to create leaner workloads. By doing so, leaders can minimise wasted capacity, improve operational efficiency, and achieve huge cost savings. For example, leaders should tackle “IT4IT” projects first and plan to decommission services the company no longer uses.

As Australian companies reinvent themselves for the digital age, their leaders need to consider how (and whether) to integrate their established legacy operations with their new emerging agile organisations. They need to retain institutional knowledge on the legacy side while also developing new skills for the future.

Achieving this goal will require them to adopt the cloud with a clear operational strategy. But most importantly, it requires leaders to adopt cloud with conviction.

Jordan Griffiths is Accenture’s Operations Lead for Australia and New Zealand.

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