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In cloud transformation, the cloud is just the beginning

Transforming your organisation means transforming your approach

Businesses across various industries have made significant strides in adopting cloud technology and are benefiting from the many advantages this affords. If your organisation has yet to embark on a cloud transformation journey, it’s likely that you will soon.

While the idea of the cloud may not be new, the challenges associated with cloud adoption have evolved. Powerful new technologies offer new capabilities but come with new demands. Bringing in the talent required to take full advantage, while navigating the complexities and organisational changes involved, requires strategic vision and steady leadership. To succeed in the digital realm, it's critical to keep the human factors top of mind.

New tech brings new challenges

It will come as no surprise that artificial intelligence has burst on to the scene in a big way. "We're seeing all sorts of use cases for generative AI, in terms of productivity, customer service and marketing," says Kevin Young, Cloud Transformation Leader and Partner, Deloitte Canada. "We believe AI will be the 'killer app' for cloud adoption and this year it got put on steroids."

In the coming months, Deloitte is expecting to see public cloud providers introduce more software and platform-as-a-service models that leverage the power of AI. In turn, business leaders will likely face new pressures to understand what this means for their cloud strategy and identifying capabilities they'll need to prioritise, if they are to fully capitalise on the opportunities AI represents.

Among those capabilities, an understanding of what people want will remain critical. "Organisations are being challenged to use cloud solutions to reflect the changing dynamics of how customers want to be engaged with," says Patrice Njoh, Senior Manager of Organisation and Transformation Lead, Deloitte Canada. For many businesses, ensuring their customers have a more meaningful, holistic, and seamless experience with their product or service has become a top priority.

On top of this pressure, cloud complexity is increasing. In Deloitte’s research report, Accelerating to the cloud: Breaking through the cloud adoption plateau, the Canadian cloud adoption survey reveals that 93% of organisations are pursuing multi-cloud strategies. For some organisations, this is a deliberate approach. For others, may be result of limited or decentralised governance. Business leaders should pay close attention to their level of operational complexity and expense if they are to avoid diminishing the value the cloud promises.

In fact, many organisations that have moved to the cloud are still struggling to increase agility, develop new approaches and reduce their costs, as seen in the Accelerating to the cloud report. One leading reason for this trend is that, while there's been lots of work to move to the cloud, many businesses are having a harder time pairing this with the changes to people, processes and technology that are required (refer to pages 20 and 23 in the report above).

A possible solution to all of the above is increased focus and investment – not just in the cloud or individual modernisation projects, but in evolving the organisation itself. It will enable the businesses to tap into the cloud's full value proposition. Unsurprisingly, it comes down to your workforce.

The search for talent continues

"There is pressure in terms of IT skills and competencies, and it's becoming more and more difficult to find people, especially in specialties related to cloud," says Alain Daya, Senior Manager of Human Capital, Organisation Transformation and Business and Cloud Transformation, Deloitte Canada. "The fact is, the exponential proliferation of technologies requires greater tech fluency across the enterprise, not just in IT."

To meet this challenge, organisations should consider the entire scope of the talent marketplace. Full time employees represent one solution. But there are other options out there, such as the gig economy, which affords additional flexibility.

Leaders should also consider more than just the specific skills and capabilities they want to build. They should keep in mind their organisation's ability to absorb that learning and to upskill. After all, it's hard for people to change. Building capability across your entire organisation is even more challenging.

Fortunately, there are several effective strategies for developing the tech fluency today's cloud-based organisations require. First, pay close attention to the learning curve and calibrate as your organisation's talent pool evolves. Additionally, be very deliberate and have a strong understanding of what you have versus what you need, today and into the future. Prioritise the development, training and hiring processes, making sure to build capability over time.

Finally, consider the idea of learning in two-week sprints. At the beginning of every sprint, bring forward one new behaviour, and have people demonstrate that behaviour on a regular basis. After two weeks, bring in another, and so on. This creates a discipline that instills new ways of working across your teams.

Success requires alignment

Of course, successful cloud migration depends not only on how talent is developed but deployed. In Deloitte's experience, the most successful cloud transformations were the ones in which everyone stayed true to the original narrative, protecting the value the project was intended to deliver and remaining on mission.

However, this does not happen on its own. Within your organisation, it's important to align on what the aspirations of your transformation are. Use this alignment to help anchor the everyday behaviours that inform how the technical, functional and business teams operate. When people lose sight of this, that's when the behaviours that underpin successful transformation can start to fade. Additionally, bringing product managers and IT people together to jointly own the organisation's technology roadmap can help promote unity.

However, while a unifying vision is important for the team, it's even more important for the leadership. Cloud migration projects are complex, multi-year transformations. Leaders may need an inspiring objective in order to sustain attention and focus over that time, and to help avoid making the trade-offs and short-sighted decisions that could impede success.

Leadership support is critical

Even with a unifying vision, it's a simple fact of life that nothing goes exactly as planned. That's when having the leadership support, as well as clarity around sponsorship and decision-making, makes the difference between staying on track and losing focus.

Organisations should have a clear, over-arching aspiration that reminds everyone where they're going. Not only does this help leaders and individual stakeholders, contextualise the strategy as it relates to their own projects and teams. It can also enable leaders to make meaningful strategic decisions that recognise how each component team plays a role in achieving the overall ambition.

When the inevitable curve balls do occur, leaders should ask themselves two key questions: Was I clear enough in terms of what I was looking for? And do I have the right contractor, who has the skills and the competencies to deliver on what I would like to achieve?

Your transformation is an opportunity

Achieving technological change is just one element of a meaningful transformation. The real opportunity is to change the way people approach the business itself.

Per the Accelerating to cloud research report mentioned earlier, one of the key levers in transforming the organisation for the future is to adopt a proactive, sales-oriented mindset. If you want to shift people from just being reactive, meeting exact needs or operating exactly the way that they've been doing, then pulling in elements of sales culture and predictive analytics nudges people to ask, how will I approach things differently?

The cloud can be a powerful vehicle for transforming IT, in terms of process and ways of working in organisational structures. The cloud can also enable a digital transformation for a particular channel or business area. But the larger promise is likely transforming how IT works with business, boosting the speed to market and enhancing the agility by which that plays out over time. This is what could pay dividends over the long term.

Every win helps

Still, success can't all come at the very end of the process. "The notion of chalking up a win, building some momentum to get others on board, is absolutely valid," says Young. "We've seen it work well." On the other hand, stumbles can build skepticism within an organisation – all the more reason to strive for early victories.

"There's value in having a success and being able to demonstrate benefits, especially when you're trying to shift perceptions based on previous transformations," agrees Njoh. This is especially useful as organisations consider where they are today, what makes the most sense for the business going forward and what the level of receptiveness is to a full-scale transformation versus an incremental one.

"Success is good to showcase," Daya adds. "But to build a compelling story, always ask, what do we want to achieve and what's the right solution to enable us to achieve that?"

By answering these key questions, building alignment and developing skills and tech fluency, business leaders should be well positioned to unlock the full promise of the cloud, and transform their organisations in the process.

Recently, three Deloitte transformation leaders sat down with Marco ten Vaanholt, Google Cloud's Global Head of Customer Community, to share insights on cloud migration and organisational transformation. Discover more about these themes and watch the full panel discussion from the C2C Cloud Adoption Summit in Toronto.