I have spent a lot of time talking to customers and analysts about Cloud solutions and the value they bring to the market.  As a result, I have seen countless instances where customers have achieved great success with their Cloud initiatives.  Unfortunately, I have seen far more examples where organizations have walked away from spectacular results simply because they failed to approach the Cloud the right way.

When customers come to me and say they are interested in moving to the Cloud, I ask the same two questions.

  1. “What is your main reason for moving to the Cloud?”
  2. “What do you hope to achieve?”

Unfortunately, everyone answers these questions by repeating the benefits the Cloud vendor community has so effectively marketed to us. These include:

  • Reduce costs
  • Consolidation
  • Simplification
  • Shift capital expenditures to operational expenses

While these are solid benefits and I agree that the Cloud can help achieve these results, I don’t believe they should be your primary reason for making the leap to the Cloud.

A Rainy Day Strategy

Your business probably does not exist to buy products, even if they exist in the Cloud.  I would assume, like most of my customers, you exist to create value.  Adopting Cloud for cost savings, consolidation and simplification alone is a “Rainy Day Strategy,” not a Cloud Strategy.

Cost reduction, consolidation and simplification are things you do when business is down or when things aren’t going your way.  They are strategies you apply to give yourself breathing room so you can regroup and focus on what your business does best – creating value.

I encourage customers to think of ways Cloud can impact the main drivers behind the business’s existence.  How can Cloud accelerate your ability to create value?  How can Cloud give you an Unfair Competitive Advantage?

Head in the Clouds but Feet on the Ground

Since we already know that your business should be a huge part of your Cloud strategy, I feel we should explore why it is important to stay grounded in your Cloud journey.  “Head in the Clouds but Feet on the Ground” is a great way to approach this venture.

The customers who have seen the greatest success in their Cloud initiatives are those that have used Cloud to connect and extend their on-premises solutions, data and intellectual property.  Cloud solutions bring a lot of value in and of themselves but they are far more powerful when they are firmly grounded in the things that made your business great to begin with.  Only when connected this way will you find yourself with extended reach, greater agility and an all-around more effective way of running your business.

Nobody likes a Vacuum

If you’re still with me and you are a believer that Cloud can provide you with that Unfair Competitive Advantage, then I truly hope you heed my last piece of advice and DO NOT make the fatal mistake of building everything in a vacuum.  So many organizations get everything right up to this point only to fall down.  They devise a plan and then IT takes it and goes into stealth mode for six months.  When they emerge with the results, everyone wonders how we strayed so far from the original vision.

If Cloud is to truly transform and accelerate your business, then the business must be involved in its implementation from the very beginning and throughout all the dirty details.  My first expectation to customers is that they must have a Business Decision Maker, from each line of business that is impacted, assigned to this initiative.  Without this focus, you will only achieve meager results.

A Final Word

I want to be very clear. If you purchase a cloud solution and follow the normal route of consolidation, cost reduction and simplification, you will achieve results.  Those results may even be significant.  I won’t take away from that.  However, you will not achieve an Unfair Competitive Advantage under these circumstances.  You will find yourself with a little more breathing room but what you do with it is up to you.