Many local government organisations that my team at Capita and I work with have demonstrated a cautious approach to adopting cloud for enabling digital strategies.

There are many valid reasons for this. But this caution could actually prove advantageous if you’re ready to learn from the experiences of those who made the leap early on.

What we’re seeing now in the private sector, is that early cloud adopters who migrated too quickly, and without a well thought-through cloud adoption strategy and business case didn’t always gain as much value as they expected. In fact, our recent cloud survey of 200 UK IT decision makers[i] found 43% believed cloud migration had over-promised and under-delivered.

The advantages of being a late adopter

What we can see, is that the first wave of migrators focused very much on getting to cloud as quickly and simply as possible, usually through a ‘lift and shift’ approach[ii].

Often, organisations started out hoping for little more than initial cost savings. But this approach doesn’t automatically provide the true benefits – such as improved business agility, enhanced productivity, long-term cost savings and innovation. By failing to focus on really modernising and modifying their applications and processes to run in the cloud, these early adopters didn’t always achieve the bigger benefits and opportunities offered.

A new wave of cloud migration is about to start

All this is set to change in the second wave of cloud migration – if the forecasts hold true.

As the global public cloud services market explodes in 2020 to become fully mainstream, growing 17% to $266.4 billion in one year[iii], this new wave will be 90% focused on digital disruption and business innovation[iv]. Among businesses there’s a growing awareness that digitisation is a necessity for business survival in the modern digital world.[v]

This gives LGOs an invaluable opportunity to learn from the experience of the first cloud migrators – and progress with more conviction, better honed resources and greater overall chance of success. One of the first things to get right will be to recruit the right skills for the journey.

One of the problems of the early lift-and-shift approach was that such projects failed to develop the cloud-native skills that most migrating organisations would need once they had successfully migrated. As the demand for skilled digital professionals currently outstrips supply, it’s having an effect on every industry.

The sheer number of product and feature announcements from public cloud providers is almost impossible to keep up with – with hundreds of updates each year. It means there simply isn’t enough time and resource to train and certify the number of people needed to fulfil the demand for skilled cloud professionals. Indeed, to stay agile and respond quickly to new innovations the best approach may well be to bring in the expertise of a third party.

In our research, 90% of IT leaders encountered one or more unforeseen factors in the cloud – illustrating how essential it is to have the right experts to hand at each stage of the process to help manage and mitigate risk.

What skills will you need?

The range of skills required for cloud is vast – covering many disciplines – from having a good understanding of the cloud market, to specialist skills for design and architecture, migration performance, application modernisation and coding, as well as operating, optimising and innovating once you’re in the cloud.

Many of these are unique skillsets and particularly hard to find. According to 451 Research, the cloud skills gap has nearly doubled in the past three years[vi].

In reality, the most effective way to support and accelerate future cloud initiatives will be to bring in a third party specialist to supplement your existing staff – one who can support you with closing various skill gaps, so you can focus your IT function on delivering against your desired business outcomes – both today and in the future as council needs change.

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[i] Vanson Bourne: Trends of Cloud Migration survey, conducted for Capita, Sept 2019

[ii] Gartner – Predicts 2019: Increasing Reliance on Cloud Computing Transforms IT and Business Practices

[iii] Gartner

[iv] Gartner

[v] Filling the digital transformation skills gap, CIO magazine May 8 2019

[vi] 451 Research – Demystifying Transformation: Where Enterprises Should Start, Sept 2019