Most organizations don’t do very much strategic thinking around “power generation.” And they shouldn’t. Power is generated through regulated utilities—and the days of factories and businesses having their own power stations (which go back to the late 19th century) are long gone. Unless you’re Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc., you don’t need to pay any attention to the ins and outs of managing a massive power grid. But now there’s another shift in “grids” happening, and it’s better known as the “cloud,” along with its evolving array of “stack” services that organizations of all sizes will increasingly utilize, but not own. For businesses who want to be relevant 20+ years from now, digital transformation is essential.
Today, you’re looking at how things like containers, machine learning (ML), and multi-clouds play into your corporate strategy—not what’s happening in “the boiler room”—and you’re looking to retain some level of control of your own resource allocations. What this means for 99% of us is letting go of our proverbial application and data “power stations” and moving to a more cloud-centric set of services. Digital transformation in the 21st century begins with acknowledging the shift that has taken place, moving business ecosystems to the cloud and managed services.
The level of scalable capabilities available today is what can allow brilliant products and services to be built at a fraction of the cost (over time), and for organizations to reimagine the future of everything from government to medicine, education, transportation, and beyond. It also frees businesses to amp up their competitiveness as they reallocate resources to more productive, strategic, customer-centric activities.
The question is no longer, “Should we move our IT activities to the cloud?”
The question is, “We’ve decided to move aggressively to the cloud—now what’s the most effective way of successfully making that transition?”
4 Steps to Successful Digital Transformation
1. Since cloud services have commoditized the virtual data center, you must commit to an “all-in” strategic planning process that asks what moving everything to the cloud can do to transform how we do business.
Any organization building and owning their own data centers without a strategic plan to do away with this burden will be hampered moving forward. It comes down to questioning how you can best serve your customers. How you compete as an organization in a world where hosting services are becoming commoditized is by doubling down on innovations that are dependent upon your own subject matter expertise. By transforming into cloud-based services, and no longer expending resources maintaining easily replaceable data center infrastructure, you now can bring more value to market in more unique, less constrained, and more scalable ways.
2. Create a strict timeline for your transition and focus your investments on competitive, customer-centric applications and services built on top of resources from your cloud-provider partners.
Once a data center becomes transformed into cloud stack services, it is time to start refocusing your investments. The reality is, you can’t keep all of the talent and resources previously allocated to managing the “the lower stack” as part of your IT investment. By freeing up these areas and, instead, leveraging technology provided by the major cloud providers, infrastructure that might have cost you millions of dollars every year to keep up, can now be thoughtfully redeployed.
Your focus should then be investing heavily in people, products, and services with deep subject matter expertise that can significantly leverage these rented cloud services—thereby pushing the company’s truly innovative efforts forward.
Telehealth is a terrific example. The industry of Telehealth Communications, and the companies pushing innovation forward, are not conventional data centers. Instead, they have chosen to leverage the capabilities provided by companies like Microsoft so they can specialize in the software that runs on top of that infrastructure. This allows them to spend 100% of their focus and resources on serving the patient, the true “customer.”
3. Ensure that, in addition to the companies providing cloud services, you are responsible for your own internal and external data security.
One of the things we do here at Reveille is work with companies to provide software to monitor the performance of internal content management systems, and look for early warning signs of a content access breach. Monitoring both employee and external user activity and access to high-value content allows customers to quickly identify trends, misuse, and potential insider threats.
At the end of the day, if you are providing a mission-critical service on behalf of your customers, Google or Microsoft isn’t “completely” guaranteeing the safety of your data. To some extent, they are, but that doesn’t mean you should defer responsibility entirely. Instead, cloud-based companies of the future also need to create an internal layer of security and protection. This means putting measures in place to protect file access, monitor browsing behaviors, identify malicious trends, and stay secure for compliance audits.
4. Build a Cloud Ready Partner Network to expand the reach of your business’s capabilities.
“Digital transformation” isn’t so much a destination as it is a continued process.
Organizations looking to remain relevant over the next ten or twenty-plus years are going to need to continue exploring new opportunities for growth, finding creative ways to avoid “reinventing the wheel” and, instead, building on top of someone else’s infrastructure.
For example, we recently launched a partner program to help amplify our software offerings. What we do is look for companies that have what we call “vertical expertise.” These are businesses that work very intimately in industries such as healthcare, government, banking, insurance, utility, and financial services. We then, by developing our own subject matter expertise in content management visibility and security, work with these partners to combine our specializations with their own, and work together to ensure clients and customers receive the highest level of service possible.
Partner networks can easily extend the scope of your capabilities without you needing to reinvent too far beyond your domain of expertise—allowing you to spend more time, energy, and resources on serving your target customers.