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Businesses Adopt Cloud at an Unsteady Pace

December 01, 2015

Although it seems inevitable that enterprise cloud deployments would become mainstream, it’s rarely a smooth ride. As part of the shift, traditional business processes and apps are being automated, hosted off site, and causing disruption throughout organizations and their external partners.

“Everyone has gotten the digital-business memo,” Ben Pring, VP and Co-director, Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, said at the recent Cloud Business Summit in early November. The current emphasis is on moving quickly to refine data and drive cloud acceptance at all levels.

Survey data from Saugatuck Technology/ISG, which sponsored the conference, shows the accelerating pace of adoption. CEO Bill McNee said that

by next year over 50 percent of business transactions will be in the cloud.

For service providers jockeying for new business opportunities, that’s sanguine news. But for IT departments that are still struggling to figure out their role if they’re not delivering corporate data services, it’s slower going.

During one panel discussion, Bruce Guptill, Senior VP at Saugatuck, summed up the discomfort by saying that moving internal operations to cloud providers isn’t about transition, “it’s about replacement – and that’s not what people want to hear.”

Internal Cloud Providers?

Joe Fuller, CIO, at Dominion Enterprises is in the eye of the storm. He noted that internal hosting is down three percent at his firm, leaving many employees worried about their future. “We need to lay out a plan for how they can be trained to become cloud providers. That’s the big challenge for 2016.”

Pring said there’s a gap and “tension between business-readiness and available technology,” requiring some to seek a “safe, sandbox environment” to test out cloud apps before they scale up and out of the corporate setting. Many spoke about, “plugging into the ecosystem,” because teaming up with partners can help ease the pains. According to Steven Hall, a Partner at ISG, organizations are asking: “How do I find partners with specialized services or industry expertise?” In addition, businesses are scrambling to adopt dev ops and digital business platforms for better internal IT efficiency and in preparation for cloud-based services.

Even though the some observers view corporate cloud migration as a certainty, many in the IT trenches still have to demonstrate standard metrics and KPIs to their top executives. Scott Henry, EVP and CTO at Madison Square Garden, noted that it’s easy to list benefits from cloud-based offerings in the abstract, but he still has to prove ROI to get corporate buy-in for each contract signed. Moving apps and operations to the cloud is “shaking up the traditional way of doing business.” He encourages leaders in all enterprises to offer clear, top-down messaging that gets everyone on board.

Jayne Aboyoun, VP Technology at the New York Public Library, is already over the hurdles. “In 2011, IT and finance weren’t  in sync,” she said, but “IT drove cloud implementation and functionality and convinced finance” to go along. The CFO was on board, but the board was very nervous, especially about security. Since making the move to cloud services, however, the library is unified around the mission of becoming a digital organization and concerns have eased.

As CTO Johnny Dranchak, of GE’s Core Tech App Studio said during one panel discussion,

“cloud is not rocket science; making it happen is tougher, however. Lots of cultural change is required.”

Echoing that sentiment in his presentation, K.R. Sanjiv, CTO of Wipro, acknowledged that change management is always difficult, and transitioning to a digital business is especially complex. Partnering can help, along with creating a road-map of what you want to accomplish. Above all, “speed, agility and elasticity are all fueling digital business. [For many], this is clearly not business as usual.”

Read more on the Cloud Business Summit.