Although more than a decade has passed since the likes of Amazon and Google started really pushing the notion of cloud computing into mainstream consciousness, the hype has yet to die down.

While the original rush to ‘go cloud’ was really kick-started by the aforementioned tech behemoths back in 2006, Gartner notes that investments continue to grow, with spending on public cloud services set to hit $57.7 billion in 2020.

Today, cloud plays a central role in the IT plans of most organisations; IDC forecasts that by 2025, more than half of European organisations will have modernised core IT using the cloud. However, our own research suggests that at the moment, businesses are realising that simply ‘buying’ cloud is not guaranteed to have a positive impact. In our From Cloud Migration to Digital Innovation report,  42 percent of UK IT leaders told us that cloud had ‘overpromised and underdelivered’.

Cloud brings a lot to the table, so why are some businesses left feeling short-changed after they invest time and effort migrating? The answer lies in a quote from musician Dave Mustaine – it’s not how big your pencil is, it’s how you write your name. Simply put, it doesn’t matter how much businesses invest in cloud – if they do not put it to use in the right way, ROI is far from guaranteed.

Rather than narrowly viewing cloud as a way to make initial cost savings and store data, the IT function must think more broadly and align its application with the goals, vision, direction, and mindset of the wider parts of the business. But if they’re breaking new ground and have no existing ‘best practice’ to follow, how can businesses be sure cloud has been adopted and applied in the right way? Here are six steps they can follow:

  1. Guarantee cloud governance. There’s a danger cloud spending could spiral out of control when it starts to be adopted and put to use by different lines of business. As such, governance must be a fundamental component of the strategy – rather than being a one-time event, this needs to be reviewed and managed on a continuous basis to ensure you maintain control and remain fully optimised. 
  2. Know exactly why you are using cloud. It would be wrong to automatically migrate your whole estate – stop to consider whether cloud is the right fit first for each application use case. Cloud can be particularly effective for applications that need to be highly scalable, deliver innovation, improve business agility, or enhance productivity (for example, through RPA and AI).
  3. Find the quick wins. Prioritise what needs to move to cloud right away, and what can wait until later. Avoiding a 'Big Bang’ style migration makes it possible to achieve quick wins, allowing an organisation to see maximum business value in the shortest space of time.
  4. Modernise applications. While it is possible to ‘lift and shift’ existing applications, this approach does not automatically deliver upon the benefits of cloud and can often to lead to increased costs if the architecture is not designed with optimisation in mind. Businesses should consider which existing applications they want to migrate, then assess which ones need to be modernised, so they are fit for purpose.
  5. Identify skills gaps and address them. Skills gaps must be identified from the outset, so they can be addressed to avoid issues that may de-rail your cloud adoption plans. If necessary, businesses must be willing to use specialist partners to accelerate the upskilling process and mitigate risks, such as gaps in cloud architecture, migration, security and engineering expertise, which may come further down the line.
  6. Embed an innovation mindset. Whether it’s the introduction of new services, or the merging of two vendors, the cloud market will never stand still for long. It’s absolutely critical that businesses keep in step with these shifts – otherwise they will fall behind. If they can get the entire organisation to adopt an innovation-driven mindset, businesses will be able to take advantage of new features and functionality, enabling them to progress on their digital transformation journey.

By taking these steps, organisations will be better able to unlock the potential of cloud so it can drive them towards achieving their business objectives. Whether they want to use cloud to deliver increased business agility or innovate using, power AI, robotic process automation (RPA), complex data analytics, or machine learning - with a strategy in place, they can be confident in meeting their goals in a timely, cost-effective and successful manner. 

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