CLOUD SUC­CESS IS ABOUT CHANG­ING YOUR MIND­SET

Suc­cess­fully mov­ing to the cloud is all about chang­ing how you and your em­ploy­ees think about tech­nol­ogy.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS - RYAN LEWIS IS PLAT­FORM BUSI­NESS LINE MAN­AGER AT SOLTIUS, AN AC­CRED­ITED AWS MAN­AGED SER­VICES PROVIDER, AND ONE OF NEW ZEALAND'S LEAD­ING IT CON­SULT­ING FIRMS.

Of­fice 365, Xero ac­count­ing, Ama­zon Web Ser­vices, Google Docs, Drop­box and a host of other of­fer­ings all demon­strate just how per­va­sive ‘ the cloud’ has be­come in to­day’s busi­ness tech­nol­ogy en­vi­ron­ment.

But while mov­ing busi­ness sys­tems to the cloud is no longer a nov­elty, suc­cess can some­times prove elu­sive, with com­pa­nies re­port­ing widely vary­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and ben­e­fits.

The irony is that suc­cess or fail­ure in the cloud is rarely about tech­nol­ogy, but in­stead is strongly de­pen­dent on ‘ tra­di­tional’ man­age­ment skills such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cul­ture and project man­age­ment.

Like any sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness change, suc­cess­fully mov­ing to the cloud re­quires plan­ning, anal­y­sis, in­ter­nal dis­cus­sion, along with clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion with all those in­volved or who may be im­pacted in one way or an­other.

How­ever, the sin­gle most im­por­tant guar­an­tor of suc­cess in the cloud, is chang­ing how you and your team think about tech­nol­ogy and its role and be­hav­iour in your busi­ness.

“Cloud lets you do things faster and with less in­vest­ment up front, which means if it's not right, you can af­ford to erase it and start again.”

Based on our ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with a wide range of clients across di­verse in­dus­tries, be­ing able to change your mind about tech­nol­ogy is the sin­gle best pre­dic­tor of cloud suc­cess.

In the early days of cloud adop­tion, many com­pa­nies sim­ply ‘lifted and shifted’ their sys­tems, mov­ing them from their own premises to those of a cloud provider, but not re­ally gain­ing any sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits along the way.

Lift­ing and shift­ing busi­ness sys­tems is not re­ally cloud adop­tion; at best this ap­proach is ‘re­plat­form­ing’ and while it may pro­vide a few short-term gains, it doesn’t pro­vide the trans­for­ma­tion that the cloud can de­liver.

A good anal­ogy is to think of cloud as a ‘lean’, in­ter­ac­tive process. Lean method­ol­ogy is a leaf that IT pro­fes­sion­als bor­rowed from man­u­fac­tur­ing’s book. The cen­tral, rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­cept was that qual­ity should be built into the prod­uct, and not thought of as some­thing that you check for, and rem­edy, later on. Orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by Toy­ota ex­ec­u­tive Tai­ichi Ohno in the 1930s, lean method­ol­ogy in­cor­po­rated the pol­icy that any fault on the pro­duc­tion line meant halt­ing the en­tire line.

To give this con­text, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that there’s noth­ing more ex­pen­sive for a man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany than stop­ping pro­duc­tion – it can cost mil­lions of dol­lars per minute of down­time. As a re­sult, the early days of man­u­fac­tur­ing, heav­ily in­flu­enced by Henry Ford, saw pro­duc­tion man­agers striv­ing for zero pro­duc­tion down­time. If a fault arose, the con­veyer belt would keep run­ning – con­tin­u­ous pro­duc­tion was the core tenet and er­rors would be ‘fixed’ later.

Toy­ota’s lean ap­proach turned this tra­di­tional think­ing on its head. These days in Toy­ota fac­to­ries, any worker has the power to stop pro­duc­tion. It’s this ap­proach of stop­ping and fix­ing is­sues as they arise be­fore start­ing pro­duc­tion again, that has re­sulted in the Toy­ota brand be­com­ing syn­ony­mous with qual­ity.

Toy­ota also saw a huge re­duc­tion in re­work be­cause of this ap­proach. These days plenty of man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies use a lean method­ol­ogy, but Toy­ota was the orig­i­nal pi­o­neer.

CLOUD EQUALS LEAN

Does that tra­di­tional, ‘Ford-ist’ ap­proach sound a bit like your com­pany’s ap­proach to in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to­day? Does your com­pany have to go back and fix the same is­sues re­peat­edly, with­out ever fully ad­dress­ing the root cause?

The good news is that the cloud en­ables you to bring a lean ap­proach to your busi­ness tech­nol­ogy. Cloud lets you fo­cus on fix­ing the root cause of is­sues, in­stead of con­stantly fire­fight­ing the symp­toms. Do things faster and with less risk. Fo­cus on con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and lever­age the cloud’s scal­a­bil­ity to try new ways of work­ing and im­prov­ing qual­ity for end users.

To best achieve this, you can’t look at cloud like it’s just an­other ser­vice you buy. For ex­am­ple, if your busi­ness is talk­ing about mov­ing from in­house sys­tems to Ama­zon’s data centre you’re po­ten­tially al­ready head­ing down the wrong track. Cloud is much more than a dat­a­cen­tre and it en­ables your busi­ness to do so much more than the tra­di­tional tech­nol­ogy mind­set al­lows.

A ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion that cloud de­liv­ers is the abil­ity to al­most in­stantly al­lo­cate re­sources as needed, so you no longer need to spend time (with your own team or your tech­nol­ogy re­seller) or­gan­is­ing the pro­cure­ment and in­stal­la­tion of new sys­tems.

Cloud lets you do things faster and with less in­vest­ment up front, which means if it’s not right, you can af­ford to erase it and start again.

Take, for ex­am­ple, a busi­ness with an e-com­merce site, where the mar­ket­ing team wants to run a Christ­mas cam­paign. For ar­gu­ment’s sake, let’s say its mid-June now. The com­pany does some as­sess­ments and fig­ures out that it will need ten new servers to sup­port the cam­paign’s ex­pected in­crease in traf­fic. By the time the com­pany pro­cures, sets up, de­ploys, tests and re­leases these servers, it’s likely that it is al­ready close to that Christ­mas dead­line.

And it then turns out the mar­ket­ing team’s cam­paign is so good that it goes ‘vi­ral’. They’re all very ex­cited about this, but they’re po­ten­tially now in trou­ble if the ten new servers over­load, re­sult­ing in poor per­for­mance on the web­site that sub­se­quently de­liv­ers a frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to now grumpy cus­tomers.

A cloud sys­tem avoids these is­sues, sim­ply be­cause it can scale up and down to eas­ily meet demand as and when re­quired.

As pre­vi­ously noted, suc­cess­fully mov­ing to the cloud still re­quires tra­di­tional busi­ness dis­ci­plines such as plan­ning, anal­y­sis and clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion. But you can ex­er­cise all those skills and if you don’t change the think­ing and be­hav­iour around IT, all you’ve re­ally done is move the gear some­where else.

BE­COM­ING A CLOUD NA­TIVE

Change the role and na­ture of IT and drive your busi­ness to­wards be­com­ing a true cloud na­tive. You’ll dis­cover a whole new level of busi­ness agility that sim­ply wasn’t pos­si­ble be­fore.

Imag­ine an en­vi­ron­ment where you can have a bright idea at morn­ing tea and by lunchtime you could be de­ploy­ing and test­ing a pi­lot project.

Doesn’t work or needs im­prove­ment? Tear it down and start on ver­sion 1.1. Test it with a se­lect group of cus­tomers and you might just find that all of sud­den you’ve got an ex­panded devel­op­ment team, where your cus­tomers are help­ing you de­velop the prod­ucts and ser­vices they want.

Morn­ing tea to lunchtime launch might be a slight ex­ag­ger­a­tion for dra­matic ef­fect, but ef­fec­tive use of the cloud re­ally will al­low you and your busi­ness to start think­ing and be­hav­ing along those lines.

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