3 strategies to ready your organization for cloud innovation

After years of heeding warnings of disruption, giant corporations are finally taking action and are now behaving a lot like startups. At Allstate, for instance, projects that used to take a year are now turned around in a week, reported The New York Times.

Cloud innovation is driving this agile approach from the inside and outside. Internally, cloud technologies have made it possible to try new ideas almost immediately, with only a modest investment. Externally, the cloud has fostered consumer expectations for brands to offer mobile interfaces that integrate seamlessly with a brick-and-mortar presence.

All this frenzied activity can yield hit-or-miss results. Failure is inevitable, even laudable. Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” mantra has companies betting on new ideas and concepts, with the belief that not taking risks is the biggest risk.

This agile workplace is as much about mindset as it is technology. As companies evaluate strategies for cloud innovation, here are three strategies to keep in mind:

1. Adopt a “hurry-up offense”

Moving some, most or all on-premises computing into the cloud often hastens a company’s pace. A cloud platform layer that enables companies to pick from a menu of options helps create a “hurry-up offense.” Choices include the ability to jump-start mobile, AI, social and big data services. For instance, if you want mobile, analytics and social, the cloud innovation platform enables you to pick those options from a catalog, quickly select, provision and instantly run them with those services. Previously, such provisioning took months.

Being able to do things faster isn’t necessarily a recipe for success, though, since some companies dive in without a strategy or a road map. If you’re going to increase your speed, it’s even more important to know where you’re going. Companies should make sure enterprise agendas and goals are in sync.

Learn how to create a culture of experimentation

Many companies don’t realize the full benefits of the cloud because they aren’t investing in a holistic approach. For example, imagine a medium-sized financial services firm is feeling competition from a FinTech startup that has created a smart robo advisor. Simultaneously, it’s nervous about a regional bank that has developed high-end mobile apps as part of its banking experience.

The instinct might be to push business units to start creating new mobile apps using whatever tools they want, then have another group explore cognitive robo advisors. When everything is thrown together, the IT department is left to figure out a back-end integration strategy and hope it all works. A more strategic approach would be to step back and take eight weeks to develop a plan. For the millennial market, you’ll want to organize in DevOps style using decision-makers from business and IT. That group would come up with app clusters and a wave plan to move legacy apps to the cloud, then pair them with new, millennial-focused apps.

When linked with a cloud security and infrastructure strategy, the apps could be deployed after two or three weeks of testing. At that point, it’s not a matter of hoping it all works. You’ll know it all works.

2. Challenge systems and structures

Though a cloud-based framework helps a company become more agile and innovative, it must also shift to a more agile mindset.

“When was the last time you talked to a CFO who said we’re actually budgeting on a monthly basis?” asked Peter Burris, head of research at tech consultancy firm Wikibon. “There’s a mismatch between how money gets allocated and how the corporation’s trying to build out some of these systems.”

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April 27, 2017 at 08:55AM