Most technology professionals today understand that their companies can’t afford for their IT shops to be stuck in “keep-the-lights-on” mode.

Obviously, it’s essential for technology departments to ensure adequate reliability, availability and performance for IT resources. But even if staffers are performing these tasks at the top of their game, an IT shop that stops there is still a cost center; it’s not doing anything to add new customers or grow the business.

There are startups aiming to disrupt nearly every industry, so it’s essential for IT shops not only to have a seat at the decision-making table with other lines of business, but ultimately to become centers of innovation providing an ongoing competitive edge. One high-leverage place to start is with an organization’s cloud strategy, which can lay a foundation that allows technology workers to shift away from routine management and maintenance tasks and toward activities that can help transform the business.

Consider these seven cloud plays to help your IT professionals embrace their role as innovators.

Offload Infrastructure

At organizations where IT staff spend the bulk of their time on maintenance and support, an excess of on-premises infrastructure bears much of the blame. Many organizations find that they’re able to redeploy IT workers to more strategic projects after migrating parts of their infrastructure to the public cloud. When determining the roles and responsibilities of technology workers, business and IT leaders should ask themselves, “Is this task helping to grow the business or create a competitive advantage?” If not, it probably shouldn’t be part of internal staffers’ job descriptions.

Get SaaS-y

Similarly, many organizations can free up time for more transformative projects by moving away from on-premises applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) removes most of the management tasks tied to supporting applications.

Plan Strategically

Sounds obvious? Maybe. But many companies’ cloud strategies focus on the “how” rather than the “why.” By establishing innovation and transformation as core goals of your cloud strategy, you can ensure that the cloud doesn’t become merely a new vehicle for delivering identical business outcomes.

Get Executive Buy-In

If a cloud strategy doesn’t even have executive sponsorship, it’s unlikely to make much of a dent in the organization’s business model. To truly drive change, a cloud strategy must have buy-in from the bottom of a company to the top.

Embrace Multicloud

Many organizations have adopted a hybrid cloud approach that integrates their on-premises IT resources with a single public cloud provider. However, not all workloads are a great fit for all public cloud environments. A multicloud approach that moves resources to different public clouds on a case-by-case basis can help organizations be more efficient. Currently at CDW, I’m working with a large multimedia company to migrate some of its Microsoft workloads out of a large public cloud environment and into Microsoft Azure, where the company can achieve a 20 percent cost savings.

Work with Partners

Cloud experts are in high demand, and it can be extremely difficult for many organizations to hire all the talent they need to implement a transformative cloud strategy. Working with a third-party partner for staffing and services can help companies fill this gap.

Put Yourself ‘Out of Business’

If your sector doesn’t already have its own disruptive Netflix or Uber — then it’s coming. One way to prepare is to become that disruptor yourself. The software company Kronos recently did just that, launching an internal startup called Project Falcon and setting out to build a cloud-native platform from the ground up.

No one knows your business as well as you do, and no one else is in a better position to disrupt it through innovation.

Want to learn more about how cloud services can turbocharge innovation at your organization? Download “The Modern IT Infrastructure Report” by CDW.

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