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Cloud Transformation – It’s not a destination

The very term “cloud transformation” implies there is an end. When everything is transformed to cloud, we can move on to something else, right?... well not quite.

There are, on average, 20+ new services released every quarter just by the three hyperscale cloud providers, not to mention hundreds of new complimentary services created by the ecosystem.

The successful organisations of the future will have a business-integrated, agile cloud capability that can rapidly evaluate, design, adopt and operationalise these new services, in the shortest time, to deliver positive business value.

Cloud is much more than a set of technology services, the benefits we’re all familiar with are achievable and unquestionably valuable but the impact is more than technology deep.

Here are 5 ways that cloud creates business value:

Much focus is given to the shift from CapEx to OpEx as a function of cloud adoption, however, the implication of this is typically associated with cost reduction, rather than business agility and competitive advantage. Designed and governed correctly, cloud provides organisations with an opportunity to align technology investment more closely with the creation of competitive advantage and resulting business value (e.g., revenue, market share, etc.). 

In practical terms, cloud enables iterative service/product development at a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches and in a much shorter timeframe. The increased velocity at which options can be developed, market-tested, quantified and adopted/discarded increases the percentage of options that ultimately deliver positive sustainable business value.

In an environment where mergers and acquisitions, machinery of government changes, and general operational re-alignment are a constant, a well-designed and implemented cloud capability enables (almost) infinite flexibility and scalability.

As popularised by Google’s SRE framework and the concept of an error budget, successful organisations see change as a positive necessity, driving innovation and growth. Without embracing a culture of change, organisational agility, growth, and profitability are severely constrained. Cloud provides both the flexibility and scalability to underpin a culture of constant change as well as the structure to support the largest and most complex change agendas.

We all know that organisations are in a battle for great talent, especially in cloud and related areas such as cyber, data, etc. However, we must change how we think about the talent challenge. The question shouldn’t be how do I attract great talent to work on my cloud? but how do I use my cloud work to attract great talent?

Simply put, there is a quantifiable correlation between how cloud-enabled an organisation is and its ability to attract great talent. In the same way my generation wasn’t rushing to learn COBOL (although in hindsight with today’s shortages, it may have been a smart move), today’s technology professionals aren’t interested in configuring storage arrays or building windows servers. 

An organisation that has adopted cloud in a meaningful and business integrated way, demonstrates a culture of forward-thinking, innovation and ability to execute. All of which attract great talent.

Even in today’s most modern organisations, there is still a natural order of things. IT sits behind the scenes delivering technology “services” and the business faces the market delivering digital “products”. Cloud provides an opportunity to merge these two worlds creating a consistent internal and external experience. Cloud provides the tools and the canvas to enable IT and business to work more closely together, with a consistent value-based approach, building and maintaining products for customers and employees alike.

Successful organisations will build and foster agile cross-functional teams that build these digital products for the organisation and the customer in the same way, leveraging a product mindset and thinking about the entire product lifecycle.

A successful organisation recognises that cloud provides opportunity for significant commoditisation of technology and services. They also recognise there is no differentiation (and therefore value) between organisations at the commodity infrastructure layer, and therefore no value in reinventing or extensively customising these services.

Once an organisation identifies the technology service commonality with its competitors, it can then look to drive maximum commoditisation and automation into that service, minimising resource allocation and cost profile diverting scarce resources to those areas that create true competitive differentiation and associated business value.

Fundamentally cloud enables organisations to embrace new business models and ways of working, underpinned by technology capabilities that are value-aligned, flexible and scalable.

Real business value comes when organisations move away from the technology of cloud. Instead, embracing it as a catalyst to challenge the operational status quo, changing the way they operate to align with rapid iteration, a common product focus, and business value as the primary measure of technology investment.

If you would like to learn more about digital transformation in government, visit our AFR Government Services Summit 2022 page.