Market demands and evolving technology have forced companies to transform at an incredible pace. Enterprises have adapted from product-based models to a service economy, and they’ve developed sales and communication channels that executives five years ago never imagined. Continuous adaptation is the modern currency, as customer preferences and demands shift and evolve. The companies finding success are those that have easily embraced adaptation and focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Corporate leaders recognize the vital role the cloud plays in anticipating and responding to the market. For years, executives saw the cloud primarily as a tool to reduce costs, a way to gain scale and powerful capabilities without expensive internal resources. They’ve since evolved their thinking, recognizing the cloud as the engine that can fuel their innovation, agility and business evolution. Executives today “get it.”
The challenge has been successfully moving from an approach that uses the cloud to one that aims to become a cloud-native, high-velocity organization. Change is hard, particularly where the cloud is concerned. Leaders have noted a significant gap between their expectations for cloud migration and the reality of their digital transformation. Embracing the cloud isn’t a one-time technical challenge, nor is it simply moving files from a mainframe. People have to work differently. Becoming a cloud-first company means changing the culture and moving from a static way of thinking to a dynamic mindset.
Executives have long cited lack of skills and an inflexible culture as their top transformation obstacles. Our recent global survey of 1,400 C-suite executives confirmed this, also noting additional challenges such as a lack of executive sponsorship and poor business alignment. If the biggest challenges to transformation have more to do with “the human element” than the technical ones, how can executives accommodate the social physics of their digital evolution?
Successful cloud-native organizational changes tend to follow several core principles:
- Start from the bottom up. Adopt application frameworks such as microservices; 12-factor applications; and operational models that promote speed, modularity, autonomy, resiliency and transparency. Begin with small groups of people who are not only passionate about the technology changes but are willing to work through the challenges of more collaborative operations between developers and operations.
- Start small, but expect to scale. It is critical to identify ways to create change that are small and can be completed in very short periods. This scope will help the early groups see success (or fast failure) and avoid paralysis by analysis. But, it is also critical for the early team to not bypass all “scalability thinking.”
- Choose visible, business-impacting applications. Successful transformation teams typically target a visible business challenge and apply the new technology to that problem. The implementation may be a new application, but it often also requires integration with existing business systems to truly be impactful.
- Measure progress. Successful teams measure for baselines and many variables throughout the transformation journey to determine their progress and areas for ongoing improvement. Often, the solution to problems will be different than a “gut feeling” and will only be revealed by examining data.
- Promote successes internally. Early transformations may be simple and small in scale, but promoting them is critical to gaining broader support from adjacent teams and management groups as the scope of the transformation grows. Internal stakeholders must both be aware of the progress and educated enough to buy into the changes. People inherently want to be associated with successful projects, so finding ways to be inclusive will help the transformation grow beyond the earliest stages.
- Identify executive and technical champions. Any cloud-native transformation is an ongoing process that eventually needs both top-down executive support and broader bottom-up team support. It is critical to enable these individuals to spread their excitement to more areas of the company with data and success stories.
These efforts will position enterprises for technical as well as “social” success. On the technical side, most companies’ infrastructure enables short and frequent deployments that deliver new iterations within weeks or days. Using custom DevOps solutions, leading cloud-native companies manage thousands of deployments per day, equipping them to better anticipate and respond to the market and accelerate their growth.
Yet technical success is only possible when the human elements are in place: the right culture, people and mindset to enable long-term change. One way to start is by helping executives see value, not “cost plus,” as the new driver for their cloud-native strategy. Companies that find value in innovating faster, improving scalability and reliability, and enhancing the customer experience are best positioned to truly leverage the cloud over time.
Wipro Digital has partnered with Pivotal Software to help companies realize that value. Our partnership enables clients to leverage the combination of a best-in-class platform with leading software development and strategic design, empowering businesses to deliver and scale and become cloud native.
Much as transformation is not a one-time event, the right partners empower clients to achieve success over both the short and long term. This requires partners to be true consultative guides, to bring the necessary roles and talent to enable a business to scale, and to help build internal capability through upskilling and training. With this formula, companies can fill the gaps required for digital transformation success, respond to market demands, and gain true self-sufficiency for their cloud-native future.