How to Take a Strategic Approach on Your Journey to a Cloud-Enabled Future

According to Dell’s 2015 Global Technology Adoption Index, 97 percent of respondents are either using or planning to use cloud solutions. Small wonder. That’s because such benefits as flexible costs, usability, manageability and agility make the cloud a most compelling destination.

But ad hoc approaches can have unintended consequences. Fully embracing a strategic approach to cloud adoption means taking the long view without sacrificing your ability to make smart and assertive moves in the present. And that’s where IT leadership is needed.

The problem of ad hoc adoption of cloud services

Too often enterprise IT organizations must share the same rewards and frustrations that police face in doing their jobs: Individuals, working groups and lines of business (LOBs) welcome IT when some technology or app goes awry and needs fixing. But when IT tries to enforce policies, standards and best practices, they may not be so welcoming.

What’s behind this phenomenon? The divergent missions of people outside IT and IT itself. For example, lines of business (LOBs) generally seek to drive innovation, performance and responsiveness, but they’re under less pressure to reduce risks and costs — or worry about integration and interoperability. Yet, those latter concerns, which IT typically owns, are equally important objectives for the overall welfare of the enterprise.

For years now, IT has had to contend with non-IT groups unilaterally deploying cloud services to pursue their goals and objectives. Whether it’s a collaboration, HR, CRM or some other service, a department or LOB can often easily purchase and expense the cloud app via a company credit card. And somewhere in the rationale is the old canard that “it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission.” 

But this ad hoc approach can have unintended consequences such as security holes, sub-optimal cost and performance models, and patchworks of vendors, each then trying to enlarge its “share of wallet” within the enterprise. The result can be silos of cloud services that eventually will need rationalizing. It’s why IT intervention and leadership are becoming increasingly critical today, but a strategic approach is best advised.

Four principles driving a strategic approach   

A strategic approach to cloud adoption can help business and IT leaders to meet their respective goals, while driving enterprise performance forward. Four key principles should guide this approach:

1. Grounded in business objectives. This requires all stakeholders to understand and accept that cloud-based services must address business challenges or opportunities. Business leaders must be fully engaged and supportive if these moves and investments are to produce solid business results.

2. Subject to IT guidance and governance. IT guidance and governance are critical at the outset of any cloud initiative, if unintended consequences are to be avoided. But in the rush to gain access to the benefits of the cloud, many organizations have a tendency to overlook the continued involvement and oversight of IT. The key is to have everyone on the same page, with their interests visible and respected.

3. Committed to flexibility. If anything, cloud models are flexible. Private clouds can best address some business issues, while public clouds can best address others. On-prem cloud capabilities can integrate with off-prem ones. Clouds can operate on their own platforms or rely on managed services providers.

4. Committed to future-readiness. A cloud governance framework can enable organizational controls to consistently apply to all adopted cloud technologies. Future-ready options create flexible vendor relationships and avoid vendor lock-in.

Your cloud journey at your own pace

Cloud services are ultimately about bringing technology closer to users in time and space while enabling those running that technology, especially IT, to maintain control over it.

With cloud usage moving beyond early-adopter stages into the early-majority phase, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all model. And with private, public and hybrid options available, there doesn’t have to be. That’s because every enterprise has its own needs and limited resources, so its path forward must be at its own pace.

The key is to take a strategic approach for the sake of keeping longer-term enterprise goals in view, while executing day to day with a coordinated plan. A strategic partner with cloud expertise can help. Dell and many of our own cloud partners can provide that guidance.

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About the Author: Sam Miller

Sam Z Miller serves as Vice President, Inside Sales for Dell’s North America Commercial business consisting of small and medium business commercial, public education and government customers. In this role, Sam is responsible for leading sales teams, driving a winning internal and customer culture, and operationalizing Dell’s strategy to enable growth. With 15 years of experience at Dell, Sam has a deep expertise of working closely and strategically with customers, partners and team members. His passion for his people and customers success is the foundation of the culture of his organization. With a focus on talent and experience of building world-class teams, Sam is well equipped to lead Inside Sales. In his previous role, he was Executive Director, Inside Sales for Dell’s Preferred Accounts Division and Emerging Business Division for four years. Other roles within Dell include Regional Sales Director, NAC SMB Acquisition and US Medium Business Sales for 6 years, various sales leadership roles, Account Executive within GCC and almost every inside sales role. Inspirational Leadership and talent development is a key priority for Sam and he is committed to building an inclusive and diverse multi-channel organization that puts the customer first.