As businesses focus more on digital, the need to accelerate IT delivery is becoming more important. Recent research from Accenture reveals that companies that invest in digital technologies and improving customer experiences are able to identify new growth opportunities and enhance performance.
Companies that lead in the use of IT understand how new digital capabilities can be applied and set their sights beyond operational effectiveness and IT productivity, and invest more in technologies to drive future growth. Adopting the cloud can be a key enabler for this and while many organisations have initiated proof-of-concept and pilot programmes, non-technical constraints can often limit the pace at which the full benefits can be realised.
It is clear that businesses crave the agility that the cloud has promised, however, central IT departments are sometimes seen as ‘getting in the way’, potentially tempting the business to avoid established processes and controls and go it alone. The ‘turnkey’ appearance of cloud services can encourage this behaviour; however, the devil is still very much in the detail, with process and organisational issues sometimes taking months or even years to fully address, causing some cloud projects to get side-tracked or even grind to a halt.
To help avoid delivery dead ends, IT needs to set a clear vision and a holistic roadmap for adoption, addressing the constraints across a broad front. This should extend beyond IT itself and be positioned as a broader programme of business change targeting incremental and phased delivery. The change to each area will need a tailored approach, especially given that non-technical areas can present the greatest opportunity for unlocking IT agility and delivering quick wins but also present risks of an early stumble.
Some Key Areas to Consider
- Finance: A move from CAPEX to OPEX is often seen as undesirable and requires new approaches to budgeting cycles, forecasting and cost control, and reconciliation. Impacts to capitalisation and depreciation will need to be considered, along with possible long term impacts to balance sheet and profit and loss (P&L) reporting. Approaches also need to be agreed for recovery of necessary costs on top of publicly published ‘list’ prices from cloud service providers such as service management, security integration, network connectivity and IT management. Rather than be seen as a ‘tax’ from central IT, these should be seen as an opportunity for IT to demonstrate the value it is delivering in these areas - each of which are essential for an effective, end-to-end service.
- Programme Delivery & Governance: Greater levels of flexibility are likely to be needed in project governance to quickly draw down and reallocate budget allocations within a year, and where project teams may need better models to forecast variable costs for delivery environments - traditional budgeting approaches can often lead to traditional outcomes.
- Procurement: Buying pay-per-use services against unpredictable volumes may be unfamiliar and comparing competing cloud services increasingly needs an understanding of the quality of the end-to-end service rather than just the unit price of a cloudy widget.
- Security: A risk-balanced approach may introduce new and unfamiliar complexities and challenges given the need to better understand new threats, the classification of all data being protected and legalities of data privacy and contracting terms.
- Enterprise & Solution Architecture: Accelerated delivery needs should be factored in from the outset, with greater adoption of catalogues of standardised services, components and architecture/design patterns. Investment is needed up front in these areas, otherwise the agility of cloud may in fact result in a more fragmented situation and unnecessary cost.
To build and maintain momentum, dependencies should be decoupled where possible - for example, changing a company’s annual budgeting process may take months or years, therefore short and medium term tactical approaches will need to be agreed to at an early stage.
Given the complexity of this broad portfolio of change, executive sponsorship will be key for momentum across multiple departments. Where possible, some ‘permission to fail’ should also be sought to reflect the rapidly evolving landscape of opportunities, and the need to customise the way in which you use the cloud to your own organisation’s needs.
Tackling the challenges above in a holistic manner, can help build momentum in a cloud programme and presents an excellent opportunity for IT departments to demonstrate its crucial role in driving and enabling change within the business as it becomes ever more digital.
Posted by By Gwil Davies, Accenture’s Infrastructure Cloud Lead for the UK and Ireland
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