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Want to boost cloud value by 60%? Migrate your people


March 1, 2022

What if you could transform your business to improve agility, speed-to-delivery, cost savings, productivity, collaboration, innovation—even customer experience—by an average of 60%? I’m not talking about the value of cloud technology, although the value proposition for cloud migration is very compelling. The transformation I’m talking about is people—specifically, the value of enabling your people to work in the cloud. It’s true. Our recent research of 1100 executives on investing in cloud workforce transformations—Modern Cloud Champions—revealed that those cloud leaders who invest in both people and technology are reaping on average 60% greater workforce and cloud transformation benefits, when compared to their peers.

People are a multiplier for cloud value, often dictating the speed, agility, risk, efficacy and cost of cloud transformations. Yet, cloud technology and people can easily get out of sync. Clients often migrate their technology to the cloud and leave their people “on premise,” by keeping organizational silos, waterfall processes, hierarchical decision-making, fixed mindsets, inattention to customer success, overly restrictive access to data, fear of experimentation, and a lack of digital and cloud fluency skills. It isn’t hard to see why migrating technology to the cloud, without transitioning people, might not yield the expected speed, agility and cost savings.

Ready to migrate your people? Start by engineering your human systems

Within a big company, people function a lot like technology systems. And just like you can engineer technology to drive a particular outcome, you can engineer human systems to work at cloud speed, with agility and innovation. By creating processes, infrastructure and the right environment for people to thrive in the cloud, you can focus your attention on the high-touch, personalized experiences that engage people.

At Accenture, we transform cloud talent with the same rigor, speed and agility as we do technology. We organize and engineer processes and skills, and we manage the culture on which our capabilities are built, just like you would manage the infrastructure in a technology system. By engineering for people, we create more value, including increased cost savings, faster migrations, more innovation, increased productivity, stronger collaboration, improved agility and ultimately, a better experience for employees and customers.

3 proven actions to engineer your human systems

1. Alignment: Architecting the cloud journey and operating model

The way people work together to drive cloud outcomes is—or should be—thoughtfully architected by leadership. When organizations migrate to the cloud, the operating model needs to be re-architected for the new outcomes that cloud can enable and the new ways of working it can inspire. There are several cloud operating model “blueprints” that are optimized for different results. For example, if speed is a primary objective for the cloud transformation, a first step may be removing silos and integrating business and IT product teams to eliminate hand offs and distributed accountability.

Once there is a cross-functional team in place, the next step is to increase their decision-making authority, by providing them with clear guidelines and access to necessary data, so they aren’t slowed down with unnecessary leadership reviews.

Accenture Modern cloud champions research indicates that cloud value leaders were almost 2x more likely to embrace these specific operating model changes: cross-functional collaboration, non-traditional hierarchy, democratized access to data, and team decision-making.

2. Ability: Continuous integration and continuous deployment of cloud skills and talent

The cloud skill gap is big—enormous, actually. There is a universe of thousands of cloud, cloud native, cloud adjacent, digital and emerging technology skills that change by the minute. No business will be able to hire cloud workers en masse because everyone is vying for the same scarce digital talent. And even if you could hire your way out of this problem, there is a good chance those skills would be obsolete by the time your new hires finished orientation. Also, hiring would likely end up costing more than it would to reskill your existing workforce. A better strategy is continuous integration / continuous deployment (CI/CD) of cloud skills and talent.

Our research shows that, when compared with their peers, cloud value leaders are considerably more likely to internally skill existing employees to address gaps. In fact, they are 4.6x more likely to build the skills necessary to transform into a cloud-enabled organization. And developing future-focused technical skills among the workforce is not a one and done deal. Building digital fluency must be an ongoing process that involves continually assessing workforce skills and providing people with continuous skill-development opportunities. It is essential to fortify your own workforce to power cloud growth, and—in addition—to hire selectively and strategically from the outside to bring a fresh perspective and to model new skills.

3. Adoption: Building a sustainable infrastructure of cloud-native practices

Adoption goes far beyond the use of cloud technology, and cloud value leaders work hard to change their enterprise behaviors and culture to be more agile and innovative. They embrace new mindsets, behaviors and ways of working in order to take advantage of the cloud and to build digital fluency. This means using core digital technologies to:

  • Make decisions faster by empowering teams to make more of their own decisions when they have clear priorities, guidelines and access to data.
  • Be more adaptable by having the technology, environment and policies that allow staff to work in a location that best suits the type of work they are doing.
  • Collaborate more easily by enabling more cross-collaboration and by building communities.
  • Experiment more and innovate faster by building the willingness and resilience to try new things, by actively learning from experiences, and by making changes to processes and ways of working.

Change is a permanent part of the cloud journey

A cloud-skilled workforce is the engine for navigating the future with resiliency. Companies must continuously invest in their people to build a digital workforce and prepare for unprecedented change and for effective growth at scale. Investing in people now and building a strong cloud capability will prepare your business for the next wave of technology breakthroughs and protect your company against future disruption.


Sarah Bartel

Managing Director – Cloud Change, Global Lead