Most enterprises have started shifting workloads to the cloud or are in the process of doing so. As enterprises look to leverage the value of cloud, it is imperative to look beyond the traditional scale, security, and public vs private approaches. Though they are important aspects of figuring the how’ part of the cloud, the paradigm has to shift to business values, newer business models, and opportunistic revenue streams created/enabled by the cloud. It is critical that enterprises bring the business dimension to cloud strategy and integrate business units as key stakeholders in the conversation.
Imagine a large retailer commoditizing their mature transportation heuristics and optimization in the cloud, a distribution company integrating supplier and partner ecosystem in the cloud to create a marketplace to barter and trade, an oil and gas company enabling new upstream exploration operations in quick time.
Ford Motors is integrating cloud technologies with transportation experience as part of the connected transportation vision which was showcased in the recently concluded Mobile World Congress (Ford goes hi-tech with new vehicles). Pitney Bowes uses cloud-enabled business service to better meet the needs of small businesses by providing pbSmartPostage, a cloud based service for printing stamps and shipping labels. Boeing takes to the cloud with an innovative marketing solution which drives the user experience across multiple form factors. General Mills uses cloud to create a new business channel for offering gluten-free products and information directly to the consumer.
These are the new found realities of what the cloud offers with its scale, elasticity, and agility to enable business opportunities.
India is emerging as the fastest growing market for adopting newer technology paradigms due to sheer size of the market, challenges with and/or lack of traditional infrastructure, changing market dynamics, and need for rapid growth.
We see adoption of innovative solutions both in enterprise segments and in SMB organizations for faster relative time to value. Microsoft has helped organizations such as Essar, Symphony Services, and Gradatim realize newer business opportunities with superior scale and reduced cost.
With the advent of the cloud, CIOs would now be expected to play the part of a strategic executive who would work towards bringing about business transformation through innovation. The CIO would also be expected to aptly guide the leadership on the development and the execution of a cloud strategy. The in-house IT team would hence need to focus more on using the cloud to quickly meet the business needs rather than configuration and implementation of application on in-house hardware. Cloud provides that window of opportunity to CIO’s – a unique and sustainable way to enable business value, innovate, and differentiate in the marketplace.
Addressing the Opportunity
As you embark on the journey to realize greater business value through cloud, it is critical to understand the drivers and challenges for such a market behavior and adopt a well thought out approach.
Our significant experience in helping clients adopt a business roadmap for cloud adoption coupled with industry insights and research distills the approach into seven major principles to realize greater synergy and deliver optimal value to Business.
#1 Create Unified Charter and Establish Common Framework: Recognized cloud extends beyond just a technology paradigm. Cloud strategy and planning spans across multiple business functions, technology solutions, and the enterprise ecosystem. It is critical and prudent to create a unified charter with business units and drive initiatives jointly.
#2 Segment Business Functions and Technology Assets: Along with business stakeholders, complete a review of the business and technology portfolio. Focus should be on segmenting your business functions.
#3 Align Cloud Approach and Workloads to Business: Size the cloud needs in terms of compute, storage, and network relative to the business functions/use cases. Segment monetizable business functions in terms of public, private, and hybrid cloud units. Such a segmentation approach would need to be tailored for each enterprise based on their core beliefs, commercialization aspirations, and the monetization process.
#4 Rethink Customization: Customization takes a new avatar with cloud. Point solutions defer integration costs and scale concerns. Back away from best-of-everything’ approaches, take advantage of cloud-simple functionality wherever possible. Intent should be on finding right solutions and working with providers to provision features that can be switched on and off.
#5 New Dimensions of Risk: As enterprises look to the cloud for services that have been traditionally managed internally, they must also deal with new dimensions of risk, from new providers, ways of doing business, compliance, payment, and more – the balance between risk and reward tips in favor of reward in well-managed projects exploiting cloud opportunities. Strike a balance between opportunity and risk. Integrate mitigation approaches including partnering on SLAs, underwriting of risk and models to integrate BLAs with maturity.
#6 Optimization of Non-organic Assets: With cloud, you will have the luxury to quickly provision resources to meet demands of the market place such as realizing newer revenue channels enabled by an M&A integration, alliance or partnership. Similarly, non-core assets can be quickly de-provisioned with the elasticity of cloud. Rationalization of such core and non-core assets and ability to integrate in a service oriented model is critical to realize such opportunistic synergies.
#7 Roadmap to Realize: Finally create a roadmap to realize opportunities. Identify and intersperse quick wins for better rainmaking. Incremental approach is a natural phenomenon. Plan the roadmap and integrate for scale. Modularize and leverage the ecosystem of suppliers and partners.
The emergence of cloud along with evolution in complimentary technologies increases the opportunity of creating disruptive business models which will transform the way enterprises do business. Global pressures continue to demand more flexibility, greater agility, and better quality across entire enterprise value chain.
Cloud provides the right platform to enable and realize such opportunities. It is imperative to look at the cloud journey holistically and evolve a value based approach for creating robust enterprise fabric. Creating a unified charter, aligning workloads to business functions, and adopting an incremental approach as part of the roadmap would drive value realization optimally.
The author is enterprise strategy