Part 1 in a new series on driving a successful cloud migration
“At this point, cloud adoption is mainstream.” (Gartner)
As an unparalleled enabler of agility, elasticity, speed, and innovation, the cloud is transforming how things are done across just about every industry.
As such, cloud computing is consistently among organizations’ most critical IT and network investment domains. The cloud migration services market is expected to reach $448.34 billion by 2025, and cloud computing technology is set to generate $411 billion in revenue by the end of 2020.
Evolving beyond connectivity
For communications and media service providers, cloud adoption is critical to being able to evolve and rapidly offer new innovative services at scale, and to avoiding the prospect of becoming just a connectivity provider. This is why many executives have vested interests in executing such a move.
But migrating to the cloud is no simple task. It impacts multiple stakeholders, not just IT and Network, but also Finance, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and others.
Naturally, not all of these departments’ executives perceive the advantages of cloud in the same way. There are multiple legitimate viewpoints on fundamental questions such as:
- What are we looking to gain by moving to cloud?
- Which migration strategies should be adopted?
- How should budget be spent?
Getting to a consensus on these questions often involves internal conflict.
It’s a question of leadership
This is why before getting too far down the road towards strategy building it is critical to decide who should actually be leading such a strategic undertaking as cloud migration.
Should it be IT, because of their technical knowledge? Or the Business because they drive revenue? Or perhaps Finance, because you need a critical hand on the purse strings? There are considerations in favor and against each. For example, Business understands the market and customer impact that the cloud can bring. But, can they make decisions about critical technology issues such as cloud architecture design or tooling? Technical experts may design a robust architecture. But, do they really have the requisite perspective and business insights to prioritize the migration of business applications or cloud use cases?
“Migration to cloud represents a fundamental paradigm shift, and implementing the technology alone isn’t enough.”
Another potential leader is Human Resources since, beyond technology and business, cloud migration is equally about the people, processes, and culture. It is the people who in the end deploy the technology and change the process and culture. And these must change significantly as part of reshaping the organization to adopt the new ways of working. Expertise in change management, talent management, internal communications, and other areas are required no less than expertise in apps and infrastructure.
So, if none of the business, development, infrastructure, or HR teams have an inclusive enough view and control of the multiple and complex parameters and objectives to effect the change that is a cloud migration . . . who does?
The ultimate change agent – the “Guiding Coalition”
According to Harvard Business School Professor Dr. John Kotter, the key to successfully effecting such a complex change is a “guiding coalition.” This coalition is comprised of individuals within the organization who are the “social leaders of the change initiatives.”
In his “8 Steps to Accelerate Change” eBook, Dr. Kotter notes that the guiding coalition: “consists of members from all layers of the hierarchy, represent all functions, receive information about the organization at all levels and ranks, and synthesize that information into new ways of working.”
This guiding coalition serves as the ultimate change agent dream team or steering committee for ensuring that the expertise of all involved groups is pooled together and that their interests are addressed.
One of its key mandates is to intentionally break the operating hierarchy of the organization. As such, it should always be free from having an internal (group) management hierarchy with no one individual semantically leading the coalition. Rather, it should be self-organizing, and as a unit, lead the cloud migration together.
Moreover, because the coalition represents a crosscut of the entire organization, it is ideally positioned to create the strategic business vision for the initiative, taking into consideration the broader cross-organizational mission, needs and aspirations.