Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer at global enterprise software provider IFS, reveals how a single strategy for cloud and digitalisation helps businesses maximise the rewards of growth.
Digitalisation equals transformation
Digitalisation and the business transformation projects that enable it are again on the radar for many businesses, particularly given the current macro-economics and potential recession being predicted. According to recent data from Research and Markets, The Global Digital Transformation Market size is expected to reach $1,302.9bn by 2027, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8% in the period 2021-2027.
This renewed focus on digitalisation is aligned to businesses accelerating cloud migration, including readily available SaaS solutions. The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report finds 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Both trends will go hand in hand as digitalisation and cloud migration continue to drive business efficiencies, process change and consumer service demands. Most organisations are aware of the potential rewards both business models can bring. This is because it is not the first time they are being talked about– this major transformational shift has already been in place for a decade. But some, wary of the disruptive impact of recent global events are holding back from implementing them. However, it is the wrong approach.
Disruption should drive digitalisation and cloud uptake rather than hindering it. Even in isolation, either moving to the cloud, or undertaking digitalisation, will enable faster decision-making, supported by greater compute power and more agile processes, generating faster output and enhancing customer service. Yet, to drive competitive edge, organisations need to combine cloud migration with business transformation and look to maximise those benefits. To do this, they must develop a single strategy covering both elements and move forward with a common approach.
Migrating to the cloud for business transformation
By digitalising, organisations have an opportunity to benefit from faster time to insight, enhanced business and customer connectivity, and operational efficiencies. It allows them to more easily collect and analyse data that they can later turn into actionable, revenue-generating insights.
Over time, they can go further and start to tap into the benefits of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). But it is the additional compute power and scalability of the cloud that helps them to maximise these benefits and fulfil the potential of digital technologies.
Cloud migration also includes adopting evergreen application (business process) solutions in the cloud with the many SaaS solutions that are available today. That’s why it is important that they adopt a single plan to migrate to the cloud and drive business transformation all in one. This tandem approach also avoids unnecessary customisation, making a business much more agile to change based on actionable data insights.
Adopting a single plan will, in itself, drive up efficiencies and drive down costs. But critically, the two must be linked to ensure that businesses maximise the benefits of the migration process.
It is cloud, after all, that helps businesses adapt to the new digital world, enabling them, for instance, to leverage out of the box business applications, digital analytics tools and low code platforms that deliver informed decision-making and reduce costs. But cloud doesn’t just maximise the benefits for businesses, it also accelerates them. Cloud has become the fulcrum of digital transformation, mainly due to its ability to enable innovation at scale and allow businesses that have digitalised to rapidly launch enterprise-ready products.
Without cloud, businesses will struggle to drive through timely updates to systems and processes. The costs of stakeholder management may ramp up. Moreover, moving to the cloud without doing it within the step-by-step structure of digital transformation risks mistakes being made, increasing the likelihood of data loss and security breaches through misconfigurations.
Optimising the benefits of digital transformation in the cloud
We have seen how important it is to adopt a single strategy for cloud migration and digitalisation and to execute them in tandem. But organisations also need to maximise the benefits of the combined approach. So how can they best do this?
First, they need to avoid procrastination and delay. The benefits of digitalisation and cloud migration working together are compelling – and senior leaders need to seize the initiative and kickstart the transformation. To get the ball rolling, they need to conduct a benchmarking exercise to better understand where their business stands in terms of its capabilities or gaps. This will help to decide where efforts and resources should be focused.
They then need to align their business processes with IT. That’s key as modern business models increasingly emphasise the digitalisation of processes.
They should begin by determining their goals and the systems, technologies, and processes currently in use to achieve them. Next, they need to brainstorm and document core business objectives before developing a cloud and digitalisation migration roadmap to guide their implementation. Measuring performance will also be crucial to optimising results. In choosing which metrics to analyse, organisations should concentrate on those that will most positively impact their bottom line or user experience.
Ensuring employees buy into the process of cloud-based digitalisation will also be key. Organisations should use cloud-based digitalisation as an opportunity to strengthen business processes and help employees switch to new ways of working which maximise the potential of the new technology.
Given all this, it is vital businesses don’t delay on their journey to digital and the cloud. Unfortunately, CIOs often struggle to know where to start with a cloud and digital migration strategy.
Before they begin, they often look to put a complete strategy in place up front. The truth is that it is not necessary. Instead, they need to get going and prioritise what’s most important. Pick one area, settle on a use case, digitalise, and move it to the cloud, demonstrate results – and then repeat incrementally. That will enable the business to showcase value and create momentum. Over time also, this single coordinated approach, will allow it to tap into a wide range of cloud and digitalisation related benefits – and ultimately to maximise the rewards.