6 Ways to Accelerate the Value of Cloud

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Companies in the Asia-Pacific region have begun to acknowledge the transformational effect that new technologies can have on business operations and are investing heavily to help them become digital, customer-centric organizations.

IDC forecasts spending on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of business practices, products, and organizations would be USD 375.8 billion last year and increase at a CAGR of 17% over a five-year period ending in 2022. The next great challenge in the next two to three years that IT leaders across the globe must be prepared for is a disruption that Gartner notes, "will force them to take action if they wish to emerge stronger on the other side of a 'turn' in business conditions.”  

This steady increase in technology adoption will lead to many businesses questioning the best ways to migrate to the cloud, and manage cloud use as business needs change, while also retraining employees to use new technologies. 

The transformation opportunity 

Enterprises today are bombarded with customer, employee and stakeholder demands, with the expectation that everything can be customized as a service for their unique needs at any moment. However, the exponential expansion of data available from new devices, increased mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving potential business insight to new heights.

To lead in this environment, businesses must deliver value by creating new, optimized operational models, speeding up the delivery of products and services, improving agility, delivering superior customer experiences, fortifying security, and addressing compliance. IT must take the lead to deliver on these transformative opportunities with a cloud-based digital strategy driving growth of the business. 

In 2018, Hong Kong was considered well positioned to adopt the cloud, ranking second for cloud readiness in the region.  Despite this support from the government, in the way of infrastructure, security and regulations, businesses remain slower to move from simply embracing digital to making technology a greater part of operations with digital plans. An HSBC study of enterprises in Hong Kong found that only 28% of companies had plans in place in 2018.

A well-designed hybrid or multi-cloud strategy delivers the broadest selection of the latest technologies. These technologies including traditional and SaaS applications, new application and service development tools, artificial intelligence and machine learning frameworks, data and integration technologies can all be deployed to the right private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid environment. The right strategy also eases migration of traditional IT applications and data that need a cloud foundation to meet the demands of today’s everything-as-a-service digital world. 

The result is an integrated and agile digital platform that is the foundation of the future of the business. One that supports new business processes, delivers the agility provided by DevOps processes, scales services to meet widely variable workload demands and data flows, and optimizes the economics of operating a business.  

The fraught journey 

With the explosion of cloud applications and the rise of hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures, complexity has begun to overwhelm many organizations. Challenges include complex applications and infrastructure that are difficult to integrate with the latest technologies, ineffective business processes that don’t align with the modern way of work, expensive data centers that divert focus from core processes and applications, and operating models that don’t support cloud. Internal resistance to change and a lack of experience and resources further exacerbate those challenges. 

So, while the opportunities are boundless, the journey from traditional IT to a hybrid or multi-cloud environment can be difficult.  

The transformation solution  

These steps can ensure that businesses can push themselves further along the transformation journey and deliver business value to today's disruptive environment.  

1.     Define the right cloud and digital strategies. With the right strategy and understanding of where they are on the journey, enterprises can drive efficiency through operations automation, grow revenue through innovation, modernize applications and realize cost savings by shifting towards agile, use-based, pay-as-you-go pricing models.

2.     Accelerate your digital transformation. Turn transformation inhibitors, such as earlier generation infrastructure, out-of-date operating models and resistance to change, into opportunities to lead. Companies should position themselves to speed up their next business evolution to delivering IT as a service to end users and customers through agile, integrated services. 

3.     Power IT needs at every stage of your journey. With technology evolving at an unprecedented rate, organizations taking a DIY approach are feeling the operational burden and cost of self-management. Develop a strategy to access the process knowledge, people and technology you need, when you need it. This will relieve the burden on IT teams of optimizing applications and infrastructure, managing day-to-day operations, and maintaining security, and enable organizations to concentrate on transforming the business.

4.     Modernize applications, data, cloud, and your organization. Being ready to capitalize on the digital economy requires more than a single IT solution. It requires a holistic view of application modernization — from human resource skill sets and new application development and integration paradigms to hybrid IT operating models. 

5.     Secure your digital presence across applications, data, hybrid, and multi-cloud services. Get a multi-layered security strategy that is laser focused on your company's environment and able to provide detection, response and remediation when that environment is in jeopardy. Enterprises must also take steps to augment IT teams with security professionals who can provide support from evaluating the existing environment, to creating, managing and monitoring a compliant cloud. 

6.     Optimize spend across applications, data, security, hybrid, and multi-cloud services. Self-managed cloud solutions are susceptible to runaway costs, thanks to misunderstanding workload usage, poor cloud architecture or poorly performing applications. Cloud cost optimization is achieved by creating a managed hybrid environment for now, and in the future. This requires a realistic assessment of the cost and ROI of different platform choices, and an understanding of what drives those choices.  

Transformative initiatives are crucial to becoming a leading digital enterprise that delights customers, responds to the accelerating rate of opportunities and threats and drives new revenue and value streams. Company leaders should seize the opportunities managed cloud services and applications present to become an innovative digital business faster, and with less risk. 

James Hung, managing director for North Asia at Rackspace, authored this article.