By Allan Brearley, Enterprise Services Cloud Practice Lead, ECS
Back in the swinging sixties the Rolling Stones’ track Get Off Of My Cloud vented the band’s frustration at the pressure heaped upon them to pen a follow-up to the global hit (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Today many business leaders are feeling the pressure as the effects of the pandemic turn the spotlight firmly on their cloud investment playbook. With 2020 having exposed large faultlines in the resilience and flexibility of enterprises’ Business Continuity Planning (BCP), Get *Onto* My Cloud, has become the boardroom anthem of 2021.
In pre-Covid times annual IT planning and budgetary cycles were the norm. The pandemic steamrollered through this model, throwing plans up in the air and forcing a new roll of the dice. Large businesses shelved projects and diverted money and resources into accelerating existing cloud investments and kickstarting new ones including supporting remote working.
There have been winners and losers. The winners tend to be organisations with a customer-first outlook – such as those that prioritised migrating their contact centres to the cloud, making it possible for contact centre agents to work from home and handle the rapid rise in customer queries despite depleted workforces.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Jumping into the cloud has the power to serve as a catalyst for change in the way organisations plan, measure and budget IT. As businesses become cloud-first, annual sessions are out, replaced by the lean and agile approach favoured by digital-native firms.
This more dynamic model with its focus on continuous improvement makes it far easier to run the gauntlet of changing internal priorities as well as coping with unforeseen external hurdles – including pandemics. And it’s a lesson we must all learn because keeping traditional ways of working while using cloud platforms will be an expensive mistake.
Here are four ways you can squeeze more out of your cloud investments:
- Engage the Beasts of the Boardroom
Today, technology is a boardroom issue. But board members who are cloud illiterate can stymie a firm’s ability to succeed. The most effective way to overcome this is to ensure that the board members understand, are involved in, and agree with the cloud journey.
- Shine a Light – on cost optimisation
It might seem obvious, but only invest in the right cloud projects – ones that help achieve your corporate goals. For many organisations, one of the drivers for cloud investment is to reduce costs. But this rarely starts smoothly.
Many organisations report ‘bill shock’ after moving to the cloud because they have failed to establish guardrails to prevent enthusiastic overuse of AWS accounts and instances. We have also seen the opposite happen, where large organisations turn off everything in AWS, stifling innovation.
The focus here needs to be on establishing a robust set of controls that don’t block use of cloud services but set boundaries. You can put in place alerts and controls when certain quotas are met – for example, when a developer has racked up £500 worth of AWS time on an experiment.
- Start Me Up (again) – BCP in the cloud
It might seem overwhelming but you need to kickstart a wholesale cultural reset to achieve digital transformation. BCP is one area that definitely needs to be approached with a fresh mindset.
A cloud-first business operating with an inflexible BCP drawn up at the start of the financial year – and then forgotten – is the antithesis of lean and agile. To help with the mindset shift, you might even mothball the term BCP altogether!
In any case, the requirement is very different – plans for fast failover to backup data centres and tape storage for data backups are unnecessary when you are using cloud platforms correctly.
Instead, the goal is on identifying the right strategies to give employees secure access to everything they need as they move between office, train, home and coffee shop, without missing a beat.
While business continuity for users is key, organisations also need to ensure data continuity. Public cloud providers such as AWS have this nailed, offering data replication across multiple zones and regions.
As you reassess your cloud strategy, consider the following:
- Align the leadership team and identify the resources and people needed.
- Resist the urge to scale up multiple siloed pilot programmes and focus instead on building a cohesive digital engine.
- If you are able to invest now, consider spring-boarding promising pilot programmes that play to the needs of the business climate, or upskilling teams.
- If cash is tied up in business-critical operations, use this time to undertake cost optimisation exercises and surface insights that boost efficiencies in IT spending.
Building the correct cloud strategy is a bit like piecing together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. But once it is finished, your organisation will be far better prepared to act faster and to mitigate risk.
And while the ability to be as flexible as Jagger strutting his stuff on stage may be a move too far, your newly found business agility will help your organisation lick the competition.
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