3 Cloud Disciplines to Fuel Digital Innovation

August 17, 2021

Contributor: Katie Costello

As a CIO, your support is crucial in scaling cloud to drive business innovation.

The onset of COVID-19 caused the most disruptive period of this millennium, but it also demonstrated the monumental power and importance of cloud services. 

Cloud computing continues to help numerous organizations rapidly respond to customer needs under the most strenuous of circumstances. Likewise, millions of people across the world are witnessing the power of cloud services firsthand as they now rely on cloud solutions to work remotely or connect with family and friends.

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“In many ways, cloud served as a bright spot coming out of the pandemic,” says Milind Govekar, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. “Yet despite high adoption rates, few enterprises have maximized cloud’s full strategic potential.”

Here are three critical cloud-adoption disciplines CIOs can master to scale cloud as an innovation platform for digital initiatives — and even launch new business models.

Cloud Transformation Strategy No. 1: Strategize and innovate

Technology-related change was the second-most-reported business priority among respondents to the 2021 Gartner CEO Survey, suggesting that CEOs plan to use technology to gain a competitive edge and outpace the rapid change that comes with disruptive business models.

Cloud can do just that: provide the services platform for driving innovation and disrupt markets in ways that will lead to growth, better customer retention and efficiency. 

Read more: CEOs See Growth in 2021, Marked by 3 Shifts

However, the business value of cloud cannot be realized without a fit-for-purpose cloud strategy that aligns cloud investment with the delivery of business objectives. A CIO’s first step here is to define the key elements of cloud costs and risks, since both are never far from an executive leader’s mind. Dispel the myth that “cloud is always cheaper,” and shift the focus toward the strategic benefits of cloud, such as optimized business costs and modernization.

Gartner recommends:

  • positioning cloud as a capability for platform business — which creates value through the exchange of data across networks and drives new digital revenue streams — rather than just another technology capability.
  • developing and communicating a business value framework for cloud.
  • implementing a cloud adoption framework to optimize business costs and risks.

Cloud Transformation Strategy No. 2: Mobilize and migrate

In the Gartner 2020 Cloud End-User Buying Behavior Study, 76% of respondents reported using more than one cloud provider. While this certainly opens the door to best-of-breed capabilities and more innovation, multicloud also brings increased security risks and operational complexity. It is imperative that CIOs balance the risks against the rewards of multicloud via strong decision governance and exploration of the emerging potential of distributed cloud.

Read more: The CIO’s Guide to Distributed Cloud

In addition, to achieve aggressive growth without compromising cloud objectives, CIOs must set clear expectations that mobilize improved cloud adoption behaviors, and track against these expectations with tangible metrics. Scaling cloud adoption is only possible if CIOs maintain strategic collaboration with business stakeholders throughout migration planning and bring in the expertise of third parties to assist. 

For example, task the cloud center of excellence (CCOE) to drive the creation of reusable migration accelerators such as architectural standards and best practices, and involve security experts early on to avoid unexpected delays when modernizing workloads.

Gartner recommends:

  • leveraging cloud choice to seize new opportunities and minimize complexity.
  • communicating migration objectives to mobilize safe and efficient cloud behaviors. 
  • accelerating pace by proactively planning for migration hurdles.

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Cloud Transformation Strategy No. 3: Govern and secure

While empowering developers and business units to innovate at a far faster speed than ever before, CIOs need to ensure that this innovation is accompanied by proper control mechanisms. For example, automation of workload placement policies and cybersecurity controls protect organizations from bill shock and security incidents.

Digital business enables real-time reaction and change in response to market events or conditions, too. CIOs must embrace these capabilities by developing automation of decision making and operational delivery, based on a standard set of policies predefined from the outset, into the operation. Vendors that offer infrastructure automation tools in this emerging market provide multicloud/hybrid cloud orchestration, support for immutable infrastructure and programmable infrastructure, self-service and on-demand environment creation, resource provisioning and configuration management.

Read more: Gartner Top 6 Trends Impacting Infrastructure & Operations in 2021

Accelerate organizational change to deliver cloud benefits by embracing a DevOps culture and introducing new skills such as site reliability engineering (SRE), or deliver rapid innovation for a cloud environment by introducing product life cycle management (PLM) methodologies.

Gartner recommends:

  • implementing strong governance and security controls as part of part of a pan-organization cloud strategy.
  • adapting and building governance policies through the CCOE.
  • reimagining the technical operating model in the cloud era.

Traditional IT delivery is struggling to meet digital business requirements for agility, speed and continuous value, but cloud can truly be a business innovation platform that creates new business models. Establishing a game plan that includes the three key disciplines of strategize and innovate, mobilize and migrate, and govern and secure will enable enterprises to accelerate the business transformation journey and attain digital innovation maturity.

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