Cloud maturity – steps along the journey

Cloud computing is now at the point of becoming ubiquitous. It is everywhere we look within the business and consumer worlds, keeping our data secure up in the virtual ether and making our work and personal lives more convenient, more agile and more flexible. But a term that is becoming more common lately is ‘cloud maturity’, and it applies specifically to the business world. So why is understanding your cloud maturity important?

What it refers to is establishing and measuring where enterprise organizations are on their cloud journey. Basically, not all, but most organizations are now ready for cloud. They know the benefits cloud delivers in terms of efficiencies and costs, and are now having to make decisions about moving mission-critical applications into the cloud. Cloud maturity is about assessing what cloud services are working well within a company – plus which are not – and analysing where improvements to the overall business can be made.

A journey not a destination

This is one of the key elements of cloud maturity. It is a continuous process that can be subject to continuous improvements – it’s about aligning it to business strategy and operations. When thinking about cloud, many organizations make the mistake of a top-down approach, with IT departments simply doing what they are told by those above, working under the assumption that this is what the business side of the organization wants and needs. This damages companies. Because while IT isn’t taking a proactive approach to cloud, the business side of the organization is quite possibly going ahead and doing its own thing, seeking out a quick-fix solution to its cloud ‘need’, because they have not had a fast enough response to the issue from IT. So this means you have IT and shadow IT coexisting in a business environment – which might be good for business in the short-term, but long term it is not good for business and IT.

And this is the crux; cloud maturity is a journey, not a destination. It is about becoming an organization that focuses less on cloud technology, more on cloud relationships. Enterprises need the right skills in place that let them coordinate cloud activities – not just ‘manage’ them. Think of cloud as an enabler rather than infrastructure and you’ve made a good start. Develop a smooth integration between business and IT, and you’re making your journey to cloud maturity an effective and worthwhile one. The workload in your cloud will be widely adopted, and your cloud will be utilized effectively and efficiently by tech-savvy IT users, business users, internal and external users.

Asking the right questions

So how do organizations begin to make these steps? Well, they can start by asking themselves the right questions. What is the maturity model we want and what does it do for our business? One example I have seen in the real world was an organization where the IT department deployed cloud technology and it was not accepted by the business department – a pretty key part of the planning process you would have thought.

If it is deployed incorrectly cloud might be disruptive to traditional ways of doing things, and it is perhaps normal for business to look for ways not to accept something new, no matter how successful the deployment is technically. So before deploying you have to ask – what does the entire organization want from our cloud deployment? What does business want out of it? Will we be able to measure revenue growth, cost savings, reduced time to market when launching a new product – after deploying cloud? Once you have deployed cloud, can your workload be transferred easily from one cloud to another with minimal disruption? Whatever your cloud delivery model is, your workload needs to be flexible enough that it can move from one model to another, or from one provider to another, with the least possible disruption to the business. These are all proof points, indicators that decide a successful cloud initiative – so when planning, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Changing nature of relationships

As mentioned above, cloud maturity means changes in the relationship between IT and business. There has to be a commitment to quality - effectively IT has to provide business with SLAs. It must operate like a service provider to the business; if a server is down, IT has to have it back up and running inside an agreed number of minutes. If an interface breaks and impacts on business operations, what is that damage per minute and how soon will it be repaired? This kind of proactive thinking delivers cloud maturity, improves the business and ultimately impacts positively on the customer experience.

Because customer experience is vital in the big data era. It really matters. IT and business working together, proactively, on the journey to cloud maturity is not merely about enhancing operations, it is about heading off potential problems before they happen.  A poor customer experience is quickly amplified via social media, shared and commented on quickly and exponentially.

First steps

So be prepared. A cloud readiness assessment can help organizations address many of the factors listed above. Companies can then take cloud to the next stage of the journey by combining state of the art pre-validated architecture, making it an innovation enabler, focusing on integrating business processes with IT workings, and ultimately making cloud a revenue generation device within a well-functioning overall operation - with the added bonus of IT cost reduction. Cloud is not an answer to everything, but it is a catalyst for business growth and a positive impact on the company bottom line.  A successfully deployed cloud is not a destination, it is just a beginning of a journey to digital transformation, and organizations need to make sure the journey is an effective one.  So how are you planning to execute a successful journey?

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Setu Shah

I am a Business Solutions Manager at Orange Business. I have over twenty years of experience in strategic planning, positioning consulting and globally out-tasked solutions for Fortune 1000 multi-national corporations. I have a strong focus on solving client’s various business needs with technical solution especially in digital transformation. I work with sales teams to develop and execute strategic client account plans to help clients achieve their goals. When not working I enjoys community work, spending time with family and watching cricket.