There's no need to convince CIOs that the cloud is instrumental to their businesses' digital transformation initiatives. The trick is setting off on the right path.
Businesses executives are still struggling with digital transformation
at their organizations and the cloud's ability to accelerate the process. A big part of the problem is the sheer number of solutions vying for a slice of enterprise IT budgets.
At the corporate level, "there is absolutely a problem with understanding the technology," Evangelos Simoudis, managing director of Corporate Innovation Ventures, told those gathered at the Cloud Business Summit today in New York. Except for technology executives, "corporate leadership is absolutely overwhelmed with the range of technologies now that appear to be relevant to their work."
Partnerships are key to successfully implementing cloud-enabled, business-transformation strategies.
The conversation has changed in recent years from acquiring and retaining talent or wholesale outsourcing, said Steve Hall, partner, Information Services Group, an IT advisory firm. "Today, the dialog is, how do I plug into the ecosystem?"
Increasingly, Hall and his company are advising clients to seek out partners in "big innovation centers" like Silicon Valley; Austin, Texas; and Bangalore, India. The tactic enables them to find their footing in a rapidly changing IT landscape and take advantage of the latest business-boosting technologies and expertise, particularly surrounding analytics.
For some CIOs, it may require asking some tough questions and arriving at some sobering realizations. "To be successful, how do you plug into the ecosystem? How do you pull together a series of partners that can plug you into the right technologies? Because the reality is, none of us has a lock on it anymore."
The important thing is to get started, said Simoudis. "It is important to find one or two areas [of the business] to focus on." He often stresses the difference between operational key performance indicators (KPIs) and what he terms "innovation KPI." A singular focus on ROI can rob organizations of the experimentation that is often required to push their businesses forward in meaningful ways.
"There's a tension between the real numbers but also the need to do real, genuine innovation," said Ben Pring, vice president at business process outsourcing specialist Cognizant. Forward-looking corporations are already creating teams and launching programs where failing fast to arrive at innovative business solutions is encouraged, he noted.
Naturally, the cloud also is casting its shadow on IT organizations, causing some fundamental shifts on how to deliver technology services.
"We're seeing a big acceleration in DevOps," said Hall. While still tasked with maintaining their computing systems and business applications, IT managers are also making significant investments in focusing on digital initiatives that enable their enterprises to "constantly reinvent and drive product down."
In short, the cloud, along with enterprise mobility and analytics, is transforming IT departments into a lynchpin for effective digital businesses processes. And that requires branching out a little. IT organizations are "moving toward a product-lifecycle mentality versus [being] focused on traditional IT," affecting how they organize and structure themselves, Hall said.