“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster…carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.” - Steve Jobs

Unlocking exceptional business value with Cloud - Creating transformed, resilient and agile enterprises

Enterprises are increasingly seeing Cloud as the underpinning of an outcome oriented digital strategy. Cloud goes far beyond reaping cost efficiencies with technological advancement - it now forms the core of business innovation as well as business agility and resilience. It is imperative for the CXO citizenry to build optimum value from Cloud and stay ahead of competition in an extremely dynamic marketplace.

Enterprises can up their innovation game with Cloud, as it goes far beyond scalable infrastructure. It is essentially a catalyst for digital transformation and growth. With an organization’s data, platforms and applications moving to Cloud, information can be shared in real time to create exceptional business value. For Cloud to become the central driver of business growth, it needs to come out of the IT function and permeate into the business. It, therefore, calls for the undivided attention of the entire C-suite.

Most studies indicate that organizations that have distinctly identified Cloud as a strategic focus area have the potential to grow at an exponential rate when compared to their rivals not armed with a digital transformation strategy centered around Cloud. A recent report states that the global Cloud computing market size is expected to grow from USD 371.4 billion in 2020 to USD 832.1 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.5% during the forecast period.

Cloud technology adoption is expected to increase in sectors where the Work From Home (WFH) persistence is helping to sustain enterprise business functions.

Additionally, businesses grappling with unprecedented operational challenges due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic have been deliberating their Cloud strategy. Armed with good business prudence and foresightedness, organizations that built strong Cloud-based capabilities even before the pandemic struck were clearly able to find their feet, and even accelerate their business during the pandemic.

At the other end of the spectrum, the dynamic business environment witnessed companies struggling to keep pace with the swiftly changing market trends, primarily due to the lack of robust Cloud-based capabilities. Both of these developments drive home the point rather vehemently that Cloud solutions are not on-the-fly IT programs - far from it!

Cloud remains the cornerstone of any digital strategy formulated for businesses to innovate, become resilient in the face of ruthless change, stay relevant and stay ahead.

How enterprises can optimize value with Cloud (Improving Cloud Outcomes-The Journey from Roadmap to Execution)

Cloud services have permeated all enterprises as part of the broader digital transformation strategy. Most organizations are now seeking answers to how rather than if they should migrate to or leverage the Cloud in a swift and agile manner, and the adoption has been quite phenomenal. Nevertheless, the pertinent question is “what makes some enterprises more successful than others at maximizing business value as they transition from outmoded on premise IT solutions to the Cloud?”

Outlined below are the pivotal value drivers:

Optimize value

Distinct Cloud Roadmap at the Outset - Defining the Glide Path

It is imperative for transformation leads to design a concise Cloud roadmap, in addition to an organization wide credible blueprint to socialize the plan. This will help gain executive sponsorship as well as a strong buy-in from IT and the business, all of which remain critical factors for successful transition to the Cloud.

It is also imperative for Cloud strategists to create an exhaustive business case with complete cost-benefit analysis that goes well beyond traditional indices like cost savings and ROI, to reinforce the critical change imperatives like accelerated growth, innovation, cost transformation and business agility and resilience in the face of unprecedented market conditions.

The exercise must be further refined to include business unit specific Cloud blueprints that establish distinct high potential opportunities within each area, and remain aligned with the overall objectives of the individual business cohort.

The Lock, Stock and Barrel Approach - Looking at the big picture beyond cost efficiencies to achieve Innovation, Agility and Resilience

Cloud acts as a growth engine in an organization’s digital journey towards growth as it integrates all value drivers, data, processes, people, partners and technology into a cohesive ecosystem, and offers a unified platform for enterprises to reimagine their operating model while creating a compelling value proposition for their customers.

Hence, the Cloud initiative must strive to instill a sense of drive and purpose across the organization, rather than being positioned as yet another IT project. Expressly, there must be an organization-wide understanding that Cloud will lead to a completely transformed, agile, collaborative and operationally efficient model fueling innovation and growth, not only today but also in the future.

  • Transformation leads and Cloud strategists must be able to distinctly demonstrate how critical it is to free up the organization from cumbersome legacy systems.
  • Technical experts must be able to clearly envision faster iteration and prototype testing, and actually look forward to the transition.
  • Product managers must be able to credibly recognize the much-needed responsiveness offered by Cloud, especially during unprecedented circumstances such as a global pandemic, enabling their teams to launch new products, experiences and services at extraordinary speed.
  • The remote workers and people managers must be able to appreciate the collaborative capabilities offered by Cloud when managing a geographically distributed workforce.
  • The partner-supplier-vendor ecosystem must understand that Cloud simplifies secure data sharing, effective application of heavy-duty AI models, designing bespoke business models and restructuring supply chains. The benefits are numerous, and call for aggressive advancement across the remodeled workspace.
  • From a productivity standpoint, which remains the single most important KPI for floor managers, Cloud remains the go-to platform for enhanced and informed decision making based on real-time analysis of data across functions - supply chain, procurement, pricing, inventory, marketing, sales and distribution.

Core Capabilities - Gleaning better insights with data, advanced analytics and A

Cloud remains the perfect platform for enterprises to swiftly tap into humongous reserves of data, leverage data at scale and generate expedient insights. Most Cloud ecosystems bundle advanced analytics and cutting-edge digital technologies like machine learning, deep learning and neural networks into the core offering, thus making the capabilities rather ubiquitous for businesses to consume.

Additionally, Cloud enables integration of large volumes of data, including erstwhile hard-to-use data (unstructured text/unlabeled information, random call notes etc.). Data mining for insights is also simplified as Cloud enables easy scaling up and down, rendering running AI models an efficient exercise, given that most AI models are computing power guzzlers.

To optimize outcomes from data and AI, enterprises must focus on the most critical data elements and prioritize use cases with potential to deliver the maximum business impact, or the typical low-hanging fruits.

Partnering with Public Cloud Hyperscalers for Success - Harnessing the Power of Experts

Tapping into the enriched ecosystem offered by public Cloud hyperscalers remains the real game-changer in an enterprise’s Cloud journey. Collaborating with hyperscalers ushers in an entire universe of innovation, cutting-edge technologies, capabilities, and services for any Cloud-struck organization.

As part of their transformation path, a majority of enterprises do join forces with one of leading public Cloud hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, primarily to leverage their scale, domain expertise and wide array of services.

A productive across-the-board partnership between enterprises and hyperscalers covering the entire transformation spectrum, right from initial migration to re-tuning for next-level opportunities as enterprises evolve along the journey, is critical to fuel not only cost efficiencies but also engineer innovation with custom-built industry solutions, adapting services for private Clouds, and sustainability through reduced carbon footprint.

Most enterprises would do well to select principal hyperscaler and work on the majority of their critical workloads by building core skill sets on a single platform, and also supplement the partner network with a few secondary providers based on specific regulatory, commercial or specialized workload demands.

Sustained Modernization and Customization - Fast tracking growth with futuristic systems and processes

For any organization to optimize its Cloud initiatives, it must build modernized industry solutions (applications, hardware and software) customized for a Cloud ecosystem on an ongoing basis.

The ever-evolving market conditions necessitate a strong architecture that enables swift repurposing of relevant and cost efficient Cloud applications in real time so as to support accelerated or dynamic demand cycles.

Technically, this requires Cloud developers to create agile and modular applications allowing seamless swaps across multiple components with minimal disruption. The principal infrastructure and platforms must facilitate a flexible construct at all times, and the Cloud leads must have a holistic view of digital data flows across the systems.

To be able to adapt to the dynamic needs and preferences of end-users, the business must warm up to remodeling their existing organization structure and technology base rather expeditiously.

The inability to have robust and flexible systems and architecture, and superior software engineering capabilities in place can grossly diminish the potential value enterprises can derive when partnering with public Cloud hyperscalers. It also requires strong software engineering skills to build Cloud compatible code that plays well with legacy systems.

The best bet here would be to do an application discovery assessment in a recurrent manner.

Talent and Change Management - Repurposing Resources and Navigating Psychological Barriers to Cultural Change

It is imperative for enterprises to not only upgrade archaic systems but also rigorously focus on upskilling and reskilling their existing workforce on skills as well as mindset. Talent, legacy systems and the overall organization design must all be neatly aligned with the broader Cloud strategy to realize optimum value.

Enterprises must harness the collective capabilities of resources across business units, and invest in repurposing existing resources which may be deployed for specialized tasks like product development, data and analytics and coding/re-coding existing digital data flows. A strong talent pool of data, operational, domain and technology expertise remains critical to executing a well thought out Cloud roadmap.

The talent strategy must empower employees with appropriate time as well as space and tools to modernize, test and scale up ideas that will fuel long-term sustained growth.

Additionally, for scalable value, it is imperative for the organization’s overall talent strategy to provision for, attract and retain top-notch experts specializing in domain as well as advanced digital technologies like Cloud, Machine Learning, AI, NLP, Data, and Analytics. A centralized Cloud Center of Excellence (CoE) comprising a robust talent pool of Cloud architects and practitioners, data professionals, design thinking experts, CX

Transformation experts, RPA experts, Cloud architects, domain experts and advanced digital technology experts remains a critical imperative here. The CoE must unify resources from all important functions - IT (all aspects including compute, storage, network, data management), business, finance and security, and must act in the capacity of a consultant offering a homogenous solution set to developer groups across the board.

set to developer groups across the board.

Lately, digital disruption has fueled this unprecedented need for speed, transforming customer expectations, and driving companies to swiftly get their products, services and new releases from concept to completion.

The critical business imperative for change practitioners is to make the journey towards change seamless by linking transformational outcomes to the overall business strategy.

Robust Governance - Roll it, then control it

A majority of the enterprises operate hybrid Cloud environments comprising a mix of PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, private Cloud and on-premise solutions. While a multi-Cloud environment enables targeted Cloud initiatives across the organization, managing and optimizing the diverse construct remains a challenge, and may lead to most Cloud journeys going off course.

To constantly measure and monitor the business efficacy of Cloud initiatives, enterprises must devise a robust governance framework encompassing sophisticated software and tools to track all aspects of the project - spending, consumption, financials and costs of scaling up/ down.

A transparent and effective shared governance framework offering management a hawk-eye view of value delivered, costs incurred and risks taken, coupled with a set of common guiding principles and policies, are pivotal to capitalize the full benefits of Cloud-native solutions enabling innovation while controlling costs and managing risk.

Scaling Enterprise Digital Transformation with Blue-sky Thinking - Unleash the full potential of Cloud

In the process of transitioning to Cloud services, enterprises must eliminate pertinent pitfalls like unwarranted customization, fragmented ways of working, legacy inadequacies and duplication of effort.

Viewing Cloud merely as a source of cheaper IT infrastructure is the main inhibitor in enterprises realizing the full business potential of Cloud computing, leading to almost two-thirds of organizations failing to tap optimum value from their Cloud investments. In fact, if organizations simply move existing workloads to the Cloud without refactoring them to leverage Cloud services, the cost to the organization to operate in the Cloud will often be more expensive compared to operating those workloads in a physical data center.

To overcome this stark reality, enterprises must refrain from linear thinking and view Cloud initiatives as key drivers of innovation, growth, operational efficiency, and enhanced business outcomes, against the cost-effective technological shift.

While charting the enterprise Cloud journey, the business playbook must expressly delineate the imperatives, establish the broader organizational strategy and aspiration, key value drivers, most responsive business functions, technological and infrastructural requisites, scale and speed requirements, competitive agility, marketplace dynamics and the precise impact on organizational structure, operating model, and business and customer outcomes.

Enterprise leadership must distinctly establish the broader outcomes that will empower the organization to outflank uncertain business environments, design new products, services and experiences, mitigate structural costs and reduce time-to-market relevant applications and services.

Creating a Cloud CoE remains critical to champion Cloud initiatives, from creating and evolving the organization’s Cloud roadmap to pre-emptive cultural sensitization, phased execution and driving seamless organization-wide adoption.

To learn more about how EXL Digital can help you pivot your innovation journey and unlock exceptional value with Cloud, please write to us at Cloud-Engagement@exlservice.com

References

1. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/ cloud-computing-market-234.html

2. Why Should You Care About Cloud Technology | Accenture

3. https://www.nutanix.com/theforecastbynutanix/ technology/cloud-native-computing-what-it-is-and-why-businesses-need-it

4. https://www.capgemini.com/service/cloud-native/#cloud-native-main-report

5. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/ cloud-computing-market-234.html

6. Cloud Optimization Strategy | Accenture

7. https://www.ey.com/en_gl/financial-services/6-ways-to-maximize-value-from-your-cloud-migration

8. https://pages.awscloud.com/GLOBAL-ln-GC-500-Cloud-Maturity-eBook-2021-learn.html

 

Written by

Neha Dutta
Cloud Enablement Leader,
EXL

Bill Heffelfinger
Digital CTO and VP,
Cloud Engineering, EXL

Keshoo Sharma
Manager, Advanced Digital Capabilities and Solutions,
EXL