Crawl, walk, run: How global companies can shift to the cloud
The following is a guest article from Akhilesh Tiwari, global head of Enterprise Application Services at Tata Consultancy Services.
Across industries, enterprises today are under tremendous pressure to adopt the latest technologies to stay competitive, improve efficiencies and drive down costs. While these goals are certainly relevant, global companies that have amassed a disparate, geographically distributed and often siloed IT system landscape can confirm that these are the hardest to achieve.
This is where the cloud comes in. As cloud technologies and platforms start to rapidly mature, companies are recognizing the role cloud can play in breaking down silos, simplifying a complex landscape, scaling to support business growth and driving process standardization.
Not surprisingly, leading global companies are beginning to adopt cloud technology to realize operational benefits in the near future with digital transformation as the ultimate goal.
Undergoing a digital transformation can seem daunting when one considers the level of change, implementation schedules, a diverse portfolio of existing technology systems, capital investments and the number of potential cloud options, including on-premise, pure cloud, hybrid or multi-cloud.
The good news? With a vast array of vendors, partners, and platforms, this effort doesn't need to happen in a vacuum — and the payoff once complete is well worth it. Shorter timescales, lower costs and reduced risk (at a faster and more scalable rate) are just a few of the benefits awaiting enterprises which tackle cloud-based transformation.
And the approach for integration is simple: crawl, walk, run.
Like all great ventures, shifting to the cloud is best done with a clear plan. Don't set off on a digital campaign without first understanding business objectives, goals and vision. Create a realistic, well-designed roadmap before starting deployment that not only gets buy-in from the leadership team but also seems feasible from an implementation standpoint.
As a company brings itself up to speed, be careful to select the right cloud platform and consulting partner for the job based on the distinct needs of the organization. At this point in the cloud journey, big achievements will include getting all stakeholders onboard and everyone agreeing to the overall vision.
While this may not seem much of a benefit, it is often the factor that determines the success of any cloud-based transformation.
Once a company feels comfortable with the plan, slowly begin transitioning systems and processes of the front office first. These can result in noticeable, desirable improvements to customer experience and the sales team. Let these initial cloud launches become successful in order to learn and justify further transformations in the business.
Work through the organization's mid and back office operations once a few "wins" are established with other departmental deployments. Now that the company has faced some challenges and unexpected difficulties, teams will feel more confident knowing they have learned from previous deployments.
By pacing the organization through the initial phases of the process, stakeholders will have more buy-in by the Run phase for the company to transform into a holistic "smart enterprise."
Customizing for business needs
The crawl, walk, run approach allows companies to customize systems to their exact needs and shift to cloud over time, giving their front, back and mid-office operations the unique attention they deserve.
With key steps like getting C-suite leadership on board, enacting organizational change management along the way and ensuring previously siloed software and systems come together in a comprehensive process roadmap, global companies of all sizes can implement digital transformations.
For example, recently a global enterprise enacted a wholesale digital transformation of systems, including ERP, CRM, marketing, sales automation and pricing, after going through a series of mergers and acquisitions which left the company with disjointed processes.
Since beginning implementation using the crawl, walk, run approach, the company transformed in the digital space on a global scale, managing cloud-based systems across 25 countries on a nearly 24/7 basis.
With a more agile and robust solution, it achieved key business goals of a faster budgeting process and sale opportunity conversion — something desirable for any global company looking to gain greater connectivity and visibility into business operations.
For enterprises looking to go the way of the cloud, it's all about setting a proper pace. Doing research on the best platform options for respective organizations, finding an ally in consulting partners, being honest with the timelines and challenges and making sure all stakeholders, not just the CIO or IT manager, are on board with planned achievements is important.
Participants of the transformation need to give themselves the permission to steadily plan and learn to allow their company to maximize the potential cloud offers to create a more agile, simplified and smarter enterprise of the future.