Technology changes all the time, but one aspect remains constant: The hype around new platforms, tools, and applications can lead to unrealistic expectations. Cloud is a good example. Research says that more than 75% of midsize and large organizations will adopt a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy this year, if they haven’t already. Yet many organizations have been dissatisfied with their cloud experience thus far. They spend more than anticipated on implementation, and the user experience doesn’t meet expectations. They feel like they were sold a BMW and only get the experience of a Pontiac. Talent is one part of the problem, but a bigger issue is the degree of customization. If companies can make clear-eyed, objective decisions about these parameters, they can capture the benefits of the cloud.
Talent is a major constraint. Developing and implementing software-as-a-service requires new skillsets and expertise that simply may not exist in a company’s IT department. Software engineering skills are a must, of course, but because the range of potential applications is so significant, companies need business analysts and consultants who can analyze the current operating model and determine where cloud can deliver the biggest benefits. And because cloud represents a significant transformation, companies need strong change management skills to get the implementation right. Given that most large companies across regions and industries are moving to the cloud, all of these skills are in high demand and short supply.
A complicating factor is that the decision to implement a cloud app is often made by business leaders, who soon realize they need IT to help implement and manage the new solution. As a result, the IT function is caught unaware and needs to source talent with specific expertise on short notice.
Related to that, cloud solutions often trigger a culture clash in organizations. Cloud solutions require a very agile approach to the software delivery lifecycle, but many organizations still use the traditional approach: the business side provides requirements, and IT delivers.
The biggest disconnect lies in the degree of customization that companies can expect. Companies that want to move to the cloud typically have dozens of established processes, in areas ranging from operations (procurement) to HR (hiring and onboarding) to product development (design to manufacture). The typical thinking is that these can be shifted to the cloud as-is—the same process that users know and are comfortable with, simply made more accessible.
That’s only possible if companies build custom software to meet their needs, an approach that is prohibitively expensive. If they’re going to use established software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from a cloud provider, they’ll have to adapt their existing processes accordingly. In that way, custom cloud development is like hiring a private chef—that person can cook any dish, any way you want, but it’s expensive. Using a cloud provider is more like getting takeout. You order from a preset menu of options, with some degree of flexibility and adaptability.
To get there, companies need to understand that their processes will change in order to become standardized. Some aspects will change dramatically, requiring a change-management program to ensure adoption. This isn’t as much of a drawback as many company leaders think, particularly for back-office processes that are often quite similar across organizations. In fact, by aligning with standardized processes already in place at leading companies, many organizations—particularly incumbent players with deeply ingrained ways of working—can actually improve the user experience with minimal effort. The processes at these companies have evolved over time and are largely centered around functional needs such as compliance or processing. They worked in the past, but they don’t delight users anymore.
In redesigning and standardizing these processes, companies can catch up to the industry standard and deliver a better experience to users (both internal and external), while also capturing the cost and accessibility advantages of the cloud. There are talent implications as well: companies will find it easier to attract or train teams that are familiar with standardized processes and ensure that these systems can be effectively maintained over time. That’s a marked change from the current situation, where “tribal knowledge” about how very specific processes happen lives in the heads of employees—and leaves the organization when they do.
To accelerate the implementation of cloud solutions, Wipro applies a three-part framework.
- Alignment—Companies start by prioritizing key capabilities, adopting industry-established best practices, and developing a vision of what success looks like (supported by quantifiable KPIs).
- Velocity—Next, companies identify the right tools and solutions for cloud delivery, establish transparency and control over the cloud program, and apply modern implementation approaches.
- Adoption—Throughout, organizations focus on a clear set of end-user personas and experiences, track performance via KPIs, and allocate resources to change management, particularly in terms of training and communication.
Throughout the implementation process, organizations need to adopt an agile approach, with cohesive, cross-functional teams—comprising both business and IT—running the initiative together.
If companies can calibrate their expectations and move from a mindset of customization to one of standardization for most processes, they can mitigate the challenges of talent constraints and high implementation costs. Moreover, they can get to the cloud more quickly, meaning a faster path to begin capturing value.