Research by International Data Corporation (IDC) has revealed that 49% of CIOs across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (MEA) believe that the cloud has the potential to play a significant role in driving innovation, creating new digital products, transforming business models and refining revenue streams and this will influence their spend over the next 12-18 months.
Speaking at the recent IDC Cloud and Datacentre Roadshow, Jon Tullett, research manager for IT services for IDC Sub-Saharan Africa said there are two primary reasons why companies should be paying attention to cloud and making it a strategic priority in the current environment.
“First, making the best use of infrastructure is always going to be a strategic priority for the CIO and, in many cases, the cloud is the best infrastructure choice,” says Tullett. “Secondly, cloud services and business requirements evolve very quickly so there needs to be a constant process of re-evaluating the services that are in use and assessing whether or not they should be refreshed or migrated elsewhere.”
That said, if cloud is to be a strategic priority, it equally needs to be given the right resources to ensure that it operates optimally. IT teams need to take a holistic look at their cloud operating models so that they are assured that the spending and implementation meet business value expectations and enable the business across the essential pillars of speed, flexibility, cost and reliability. To ensure these efficiencies and optimisation strategies, several common elements need to be addressed.
“A consistent security policy along with common management and central reporting are three areas where the cost of getting it wrong is immediate and appears as additional overheads and reduced agility,” says Tullett. “If you dig deeper, this leads to discussions around API management and integration strategies that, for many CIOs, are easy investments in the future. They don’t add much cost today, but payout handsomely as company use cases expand.”
Cloud deployments can fundamentally help the organisation improve its operational efficiencies over the long term, particularly those that have not yet fully optimised their technology environments. This has already been seen in the measurable returns on investment and productivity found by companies already moving down the digital transformation road – they have realised benefits such as faster time to market, simplified innovation, easier scalability, and reduced risk. If a company can get its strategy and operating models in alignment then it will see improvements in these baseline metrics and overall operational capability.
“If an organisation is experiencing worse operational inefficiency after deploying into the cloud, then the cloud has been implemented incorrectly,” says Tullett. “As blunt as that may be, it’s the reality and asks that the organisation relook its strategy and approaches to turn this around. It’s not always obvious where the business is experiencing operational inefficiencies, however, so it is worth using the built-in telemetry in cloud platforms to assess performance.”
Use the tools and the third-party services that allow for the business to measure its efficiency. This will allow for it to measure and improve efficiencies as part of cloud key performance indicators rather than as guesswork and estimations. Also, do not stop assessing at the implementation phase when moving the software into the cloud because the real benefits only show themselves once the organisation actively leverages the advantages of cloud. These are, of course, agility, speed of deployment, inter-service integration, faster iteration, and consumption pricing.
“If you cannot express your cloud spend in these terms – across these benefits – then you may get stuck on first base,” says Tullett. “Then, once you have established these as your foundation, take these cloud advantages and overlay them over your entire IT infrastructure. You can get most, if not all, of these benefits with other technologies as well. Cloud is not the only option, it is a change in how you articulate business value and how the business aligns with IT.”
In the end, whether cloud, operations, implementation or transformation drive the business journey, every part of an organisation’s infrastructure needs to be held to high standards that prioritise strategic imperatives and align with mission-critical business objectives.