Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Sudhir Kesavan, SVP of FullStride Cloud Services at Wipro Limited.
If you don't know where you're going, any road will surely get you there.
"Alice in Wonderland" taught us that, with the Cheshire Cat providing such elegant wisdom in Alice's moment of despair. CIOs are well aware that enterprise journeys to the cloud are not unlike Alice's predicament: Between the next milestone and the organizational vision lie unknown elements of business transformation.
Aligning the evolving business and technology strategy, at the enterprise and product-line levels, is key to successful transformations. At the heart of cloud adoption lies the transformation of the enterprise's operating model itself.
Technology's accelerated intrusion into the business model drives this shift, but how do CIOs go about aligning an evolutionary and challenging transformation journey with the cloud adoption road map?
It's difficult, sure, but not impossible. Instead of thinking about the cloud as an IT thing, dynamic CIOs think about the cloud as a capability stack. The cloud is your enterprise's unique business technology stack, provisioned through an enterprise-scale (and scalable) computer. Because of this, the cloud is able to add capabilities and extend existing ones.
Sometimes, it's a good strategy to see what other CIOs are doing in their cloud evolutions to get a handle on what's possible. IDG reports that some 92% of organizations have at least partially moved operations to the cloud, so there are plenty of reference points to consider.
Here are a few examples that should reinforce the benefits of aligning the evolutions of enterprise capability and cloud capability.
IT's ways of working:
The cloud can catalyze automation of IT's ways of working. Standardization offered by the cloud lets organizations radically automate development and operations processes.
Through DevSecOps, DataOps, MLOps, and AIOps adoption, companies can automate and streamline their application, data, and analytical model delivery, as well as run processes. This radical automation creates a step-change in the time-to-value equation.
Further improvement is also possible through the intelligence that can be embedded in these processes. This enables how technology gets delivered in your company.
Democratizing advanced analytics
The best example for thinking about the cloud as an enabler of your enterprise's capability stack is to look at the data capabilities that cloud can unlock.
New database technologies are providing enterprises new ways of harnessing data, including process-specific models, distributed database technologies, and enterprise search and streaming capabilities. Leveraging these capabilities requires a reset of data processes and data consumption.
As the organization becomes data-driven, it can harness more data capabilities. Process-specific models enable further acceleration of an enterprise's intelligence capabilities.
Enterprise as an ecosystem: distributed cloud
As CIOs help enterprises adopt ecosystem-centric business and operating models, the public cloud is also evolving into a distributed cloud.
This model allows for the enterprise to have a seeming anti-pattern of the earlier definition of the cloud: a physical location. In an ecosystem operating model, that location, too, will be a part of the distributed cloud offering. This is done through packaged hybrid offerings that provision public cloud capabilities to distributed physical locations, including the edge.
This enables significant value for the enterprise by delivering low-latency compute where needed while still ensuring administration through a single pane and retaining the advantages of the public cloud.
Enterprise digital strategy before cloud strategy
The above examples are merely three of a multitude of capabilities that the cloud enables.
As CIOs look at industry-specific models, 5G-aligned capabilities or logistics, supply chain capabilities, and many more, it becomes apparent that there is significant competitive advantage in aligning an enterprise's technology evolution with its cloud capability evolution. This is true for both horizontal and industry-specific verticalized capabilities.
The key is to pace the enterprise's capability evolution so that it accelerates the enterprise's digital transformation, not to keep pace with the capability evolution of the cloud provider. Enterprises that have a focused business tech-aligned road map have a competitive advantage over their peers.
Having said that, this is certainly a challenging journey. To achieve the full potential of the cloud, enterprises need to focus on a non-trivial set of operating model, technological, operational, security, and financial capabilities.
Technology and people muscles
If an enterprise is to exploit the potential of the cloud, it needs to build the human muscles that enable this shift — from technical skills all the way to collaboration muscles and cultural shifts.
These muscles include business and technology interdependence, new skills that are relevant for a cloud operating model on one hand and business tech-linked product management on the other.
As an organization's internal people muscles develop, it's key to convert them into technological and operational capabilities that can be provisioned as part of a cloud operating model. To ensure people muscles and technology muscles remain supportive of each other, the underlying processes need to also be adaptable and resilient.
Many people and technology road maps have been waylaid because the underlying processes did not keep pace with the evolving capability road map.
Aligning the business technology strategy and execution road map is key to building this muscle, as it enables the conversation to go beyond IT efficiency toward business value creation. Once IT can support business's ability to envision the business tech future, an enterprise can truly create a coherent digital transformation strategy.
As the internal business technology muscle develops, it becomes easier for the enterprise to have a collaborative dialogue with the cloud ecosystem, including public cloud providers.
Internal alignment can catalyze the ecosystem in favor of the enterprise, and ultimately accelerate the journey. This internal coherence acts as a gravitational force that aligns the ecosystem in favor of the enterprise.
CIOs understand that no transformation journey is easy or similar to any other, but leveraging the cloud as a catalyst for digital transformation can become a stepping-stone to enable and drive digital transformation forward.