“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,”
said the [Cheshire] Cat.
“I don’t much care where —” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wonderland conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat has echoes for many discussions about cloud strategy. “We need to move to cloud” is a constant refrain. Less often does one hear the question, “Why?” The truth is that before you can answer the how or indeed the if of cloud, you need to be clear about the “why,” i.e., where you want to go and where cloud can take you.
Surveys of industry executives (for example, by BCG, McKinsey and KPMG) show that the majority of cloud journeys fall short when it comes to delivery of business outcomes. A principal cause of this failure is lack of clarity around business outcomes: Either outcomes are not clearly defined in business terms to start with, or whatever clarity exists for the CEO and CIO is watered down as the “imperative” to adopt cloud and cascaded through layers of the organization. As a consequence, too many cloud journeys end up as “IT for IT’s sake.”
The only variation on the adage about “a hammer in want of a nail” is that in this case, there happens to be more than one hammer (IaaS, PaaS, cloud-native and so on). People just want to know which hammer to use. To extend the metaphor: You should first be asking where to hang the pictures, or perhaps even whether to move the walls.
DXC Technology is producing a series of papers on Leveraging the Hyperscalers to help enterprises realize the potential of cloud. One paper explores how enterprises can build business capabilities in a new way by assembling components from the cloud. This current paper explains how business leaders — CEOs, COOs, CFOs and business unit heads — can ensure that their journey to cloud is focused right from the start on delivery of business outcomes. This paper provides a structured approach (Table 1) to ensure you never lose sight of these business outcomes when designing and executing your cloud program.
Business outcomes: Looking to the horizon
In deciding where you want to get to, it is of the utmost importance that you set your destination in terms of business outcomes — not IT goals. For instance, you might ask:
• Which markets do we intend to enter or exit?
• What cost structure, fixed vs. variable, do we want the business to have?
• Where do we most need agility to speed up the release of new features and products?
• What new business models can we create for our enterprise, or (more radically) for our customers?
• Who are the new customers that we can create and the new markets that we can be the first to discover?
The reason for framing outcomes in business terms instead of IT terms is that, as we will show, cloud has the potential to contribute so much more, beyond enhanced IT.
Set your future vision by looking to the horizon, taking a long view where you see cloud as a multi-year journey that takes your business where you want it to be in, say, 5 to 10 years. A Cloud Right™ approach can help on the journey, with a hybrid platform that is valuable for enabling short- and long-term business goals.
This long-term perspective is vital for several reasons:
• It’s a journey of a thousand steps. View your journey not as a revolution, but an evolution made up of countless small steps. Benefits will be delivered along the way, but if you are demanding rapid breakthrough results, look elsewhere.
• You must think far ahead. "There are problems that are impossible to think about in two-year terms — which everyone does — but they’re easy if you think in fifty-year terms.” The inventor and scientist Daniel Hills had in mind some of the most challenging problems in science, but this fundamental observation is true for cloud if one substitutes 50 years with five to 10 years. The series of steps that make up a journey to cloud can only be mapped out if one knows the destination.
• You will have to burn your boats. Disposing of your IT assets (hardware, data centers and investment in legacy applications) amounts to burning the boats. Does everyone accept there is no turning back?
• Perseverance will be needed. The journey will require sustained funding and senior management focus. Moreover, cloud entails experimentation; as not all experiments work, you will encounter a few blind alleys. Are you prepared to stay the course?
• The future is a foreign country: They do things differently there” (with apologies to L.P. Hartley). Cloud operates according to fundamentally different models that can often prove uncomfortable. Security and control form particular stumbling blocks: Automation takes humans out of the loop; you will depend on very few vendors; your data will be off-premises; if there is an IT failure, business continuity relies on recovery that is based on software, not on hardware; and many security decisions are outside your control — in good hands, but outside your direct control. There is no point in starting the journey if, when the time comes, you are not ready to let go and cross over into unfamiliar territory.
• Make sure the destination is worth the journey. The most fundamental reason for taking the long view is that, as we will show, cloud has the potential to alter the trajectory of your business by creating value for customers in new ways. Why settle for less?comes, you are not ready to let go and cross over into unfamiliar territory.
• Make sure the destination is worth the journey. The most fundamental reason for taking the long view is that, as we will show, cloud has the potential to alter the trajectory of your business by creating value for customers in new ways. Why settle for less?