The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the cloud agenda from aspirational to an urgent mandate. The gap between digital leaders and laggards has widened to a chasm basically overnight. Enterprises are recognizing that cloud is their ticket to scalable operations, cost-effective infrastructure and competitive advantage, and that it offers access to the latest and greatest digital technologies via hyperscaler services.

For many, the pandemic has been a catalyst in this respect. It's brought home the need for greater scalability, flexibility and resilience in IT infrastructure in a very direct way. When organizations needed to massively scale up digital operations and network connectivity overnight, many quickly realized their on-premises data centers simply weren’t up to the task.

However, knowing you need to be cloud first isn’t the same as understanding how to get value when you’re there.

The fact is, across emerging markets in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America, there are still a large number of enterprise “late bloomers” when it comes to cloud. Only in the last few years have large organizations in sectors like financial services, manufacturing and energy started to get serious about their cloud first journeys. Even now, they’ve really only dipped their toes in the water.

These organizations recognize that a new requirement has emerged to achieve digital transformation and leadership post-COVID: Every business must be a cloud first business. They realize the urgent need to accelerate their cloud first journeys and start exploring the vast range of higher-order services and innovative capabilities that the cloud hyperscalers now provide.

Here are some of the key things you and your company should be thinking about as you prepare for a cloud first journey.

Culture, culture, culture

The first thing to do is to make sure your organization is ready and willing to undergo a genuine cloud transformation. And that means looking at your culture.

Culture can be hard to pin down, let alone change. But when it comes to cloud, it’s vital to address it. In practice, it means ensuring you have the right people, with the right skills and the right attitude, to deliver cloud innovation in your organization. You need a range of skilled professionals, including business cloud practitioners, certified cloud solution architects and delivery specialists.

It’s important to recognize that cultural change needs to be embraced at all levels of an enterprise. So, it’s absolutely vital to elevate the cloud conversation beyond the IT function. You need to get alignment across the C-suite, right from the very start, and use that buy-in to infuse a cloud culture throughout the enterprise.

Your organization also has to be willing to see the cloud first journey as something much more important and complex than a technology upgrade. It’s about getting the rest of the business intimately involved and understanding how cloud can create new value for your company.

Don’t spread yourself too thin

One potential pitfall to avoid is focusing too much on the price point and not enough on the transformative potential of cloud. We frequently see companies starting their cloud journeys getting fixated on the idea of playing different cloud providers off against each other in the hope of ensuring the lowest overall cost.

Ultimately that’s not the way to do it. In fact, it’s counterproductive. Whatever the initial benefit, you ultimately risk hamstringing your organization with unnecessary complexity. You end up having to establish a different set of internal skills and processes for each cloud provider, complicating your organizational structure and even creating additional cost.

To maximize the value of the cloud, you need to commit to a relationship with a cloud provider. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be all-in on a single hyperscaler. But it does mean viewing each relationship as a partnership in which both sides are making a bet on the future success of the others’ business. 

Start small, think big

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of a cloud transformation, and all the possible routes and destinations it could take. Even some of the world’s largest and most advanced organizations are still figuring out how to work through their cloud journeys.

But the important thing to remember is you don’t need to jump all in straight away. You can start small, maybe even with a single dataset, and build from there.

We saw this happen for real during the pandemic. Many organizations had to act quickly to prevent their call centers from getting inundated by a sudden surge in demand. One banking organization, for example, saw call volumes increase by 65 percent. We were able to help them by quickly implementing a cloud chatbot solution to take on around 30 percent of the volume and alleviate the burden on call center agents.

But what happened next was just as interesting. The success of this one discrete change started a much broader set of conversations throughout the business about using data in the cloud. That included looking to transform customer service with capabilities like predictive analytics – anticipating call center demand much more accurately.

Time to take cloud to the next level

That’s ultimately the key point here. When you’re all in on cloud, the possibilities for new innovation and business value really start opening up. Even a small cloud technology change can trigger something much bigger—eventually transforming the way you operate and manage your business.

But it can be hard to see the potential until you’re there. That’s why working with a partner like Accenture can really help: understanding the value and the outcomes that your organization wants to achieve from the very start and planning a cloud first journey that gets you there.

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“It’s absolutely vital to elevate the cloud conversation beyond the IT function. You need to get alignment across the C-suite.”

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Eric Grayson

Lead – Accenture AWS Business Group, Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East & Latin America

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