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May 12, 2016
Decision-making in the cloud: Always know why
By: Matthew Johnson

So you’re ready to introduce a new cloud application to your enterprise environment. How do you know which application to choose? It’s an important question that shouldn’t be answered lightly.

Rationalizing Your Cloud Decisions

Finding the right cloud applications for your business should come down to more than what’s popular or what’s been around the longest. Rather, you need to base this decision on several factors, including your current enterprise environment and the improvements you hope to make by adopting the new technology.

Consider Your Enterprise Technology Environment

First, you need to consider what your enterprise technology environment looks like.

For example, let’s say you want to implement a new request solution for internal services and you’ve narrowed it down to extending an IT service management solution beyond IT and extending an external customer service solution to internal operations. How do you choose?

Start by asking where you have existing investments. If you’ve invested a lot in building your ITSM capabilities, going with the service management solution that builds on that platform would be a natural choice. Similarly, if you’ve invested a lot in automating your customer service capabilities with a CRM platform, extending that solution might make more sense. In other words, a lot depends on what infrastructure you already have in place and the return you hope to realize on those investments.

Evaluate Your Desired Improvements

Second, you need to evaluate what you hope to achieve by adopting cloud technology. Specifically, this entails identifying why you are replacing an existing solution (or adding a net-new solution to your technology stacks).

Answering this “why” question is essential for developing a clear vision of what’s driving your move to the cloud. If you don’t clearly define this vision, your journey toward realizing your desired goals will be measurably more difficult.

I’ve seen it happen too many times—businesses move to the cloud simply because they think it’s the right thing to do, and once they get there they don’t have a clear roadmap to guide their progress. Although they may have actually had a good reason for moving to the cloud, let’s say to increase agility for IT or drive growth for the business, they never made those reasons clear, and by not doing so they got off on the wrong foot before they even started.

So what is a good reason for moving to the cloud? Certainly not because it’s what everyone else is doing. There are actually six factors that might drive your migration, three of which are driven by the business (growth, efficiency and experience) and three of which are driven by IT (agility, cost and assurance):

  1. Growth: Driving business growth might include increasing sales, market share or even productivity so that you can do more with the same amount of resources. How you define growth is important, and it will depend on the maturity of your organization.

  2. Efficiency: Improving efficiency generally focuses on streamlining processes to get work done faster. Efficiency can then fuel growth by allowing you take on more work or reduce costs by lowering resource requirements. Improved efficiency can also impact the customer experience.

  3. Experience: Customer experience is critically important in today’s digital environment, and this experience extends to both external and internal customers. A positive experience can contribute to growth by improving customer loyalty and contribute to efficiency by decreasing employee turnover.

  4. Agility: Increasing agility helps IT change and scale at a faster pace in order to keep up with demands from the business. Making IT more agile can also impact the agility of end users.

  5. Cost: Often confused with efficiency (which can lead to cost savings), cost can encompass reducing the IT footprint, reducing technology costs and restructuring capital expenditures for IT.

  6. Assurance: Assurance passes IT responsibilities like disaster recovery and protecting against security breaches and data center crashes onto a dedicated third party provider. Doing so should improve your protection in these areas and free IT to be more strategic, thereby feeding increased agility.

Once you identify what’s driving your move to the cloud, you need to balance your drivers. That’s because, as your cloud program matures, more and more drivers will come into play and some of these factors can conflict with one another. For example, providing the best customer experience doesn’t typically lead to efficiency gains or cost reduction. So when it comes to experience vs. efficiency and/or cost, you need to have a clear map in place that tells you which factor is more important to your overall strategy. The key is to find a way to balance all of these drivers that satisfies your long term goals.

Managing Your Cloud Decisions Long Term

Beyond evaluating what makes the most sense based on your enterprise technology environment and identifying what’s driving your move to the cloud, you also need to be prepared to manage the results of these decisions long term.

A key part of this management is ensuring alignment between IT and the business on these decisions. The impact of cloud technology is so far reaching that having only IT drive the strategy won’t cut it—the business needs to be on board for these decisions as well.

Get the full details on the six possible business and technology drivers for going cloud. This opens a new window.

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