Whether you’re familiar with it or not, cloud computing has changed how companies operate. Every department is experiencing the effects of “the cloud”. As with any change that affects the entire enterprise, executives are expected to understand the impact of cloud computing and ramifications on the business in order to successfully guide the company to continued profitability.
This is often easier than it sounds. To help, Google recently put together a report for IT leaders and the C-suite that outlines how cloud computing has changed the business landscape. The report provides insights into the overall impact on business as well as recommendations on how to navigate these changes.
What are the Impacts for Business?
We all know by now that change is constant. And with the speed at which technology is evolving, you need to be agile to meet customer expectations. To handle this new paradigm, DevOps (the combination of software development and IT operations) is now an adopted practice at 60% of companies globally. DevOps is necessary to optimize cloud computing speed, efficiency, and quality.
Data is another area that is being impacted. Big data is a term that has been around for some time, but the ability to effectively analyze all of the data companies are producing has been improved with cloud computing. “The cloud’s real promise lies in its ability to unite batch and streaming data inputs to run real-time analyses using machine learning and AI. IoT devices, customer interactions, social media, and environmental data – to name just a few – all provide signals that, when properly analyzed, can create a single view of a customer, product, or interaction.”
Cloud security is another area that has been impacted by cloud computing. It is either a driver of cloud adoption or a barrier to it. As long as you understand your responsibility in the cloud, it is arguably safer than an on-premise data center. “Cloud computing makes security management possible in a porous and varied ecosystem of platforms, users, and devices. By centralizing data and IT infrastructure in the cloud, companies can scalably and continuously manage every single asset, user, and configuration.”
Cloud computing is changing how we work. DevOps is a culture shift and when done properly, builds collaboration. According to the report, “When people feel like they have each other’s back – or that the tools, the continuous integration/continuous delivery, has their back – they’re more likely to take risks; they’re more likely to create; they’re more likely to move faster.”
How Should Leaders Prepare?
In the next few years, IDC expects the top four cloud providers will host 80% of IT infrastructure and platform workloads. Through hybrid and multi-cloud approaches, the cloud is coming to you, rather than you having to go to the cloud. There will be different options to choose from to find the best way to manage your data and applications. “Organizations have seen, from their experience in the public cloud, that they can develop faster, iterate faster, and bring solutions out faster,” explains Stevens, Google Cloud’s CTO. “The modernization happens naturally as they increasingly integrate cloud services into their IT toolkit. It’s become not an if or a why; it’s become a how.”
Additionally, take advantage of open-source software. It provides more interoperability across your on-premise and cloud environments. Open source is one of the primary drivers of standardization for technologies, and it helps eliminate the risks associated with vendor lock-in. Technology will continue to evolve and you need to know your tech-stack will continue to work well together in the future.
Security is one of those areas that companies always feel like they’re behind, that the bad actors will always be a step ahead. Consistently patching and good employee cyber hygiene can help reduce your vulnerability footprint, but you need to be vigilant. Think about IT security on a constant basis, “Development will need to move into a continuous feedback model so that code can be pushed (refreshed, fixed, and updated) at any time. The benefit is that if there is a security issue, it can be dealt with immediately as opposed to waiting quarterly, yearly, or any other time down the road. This will reduce and eventually get rid of the periods of vulnerability when an adversary can exploit the company.”
The number one thing to remember as an executive is that change is hard for people and you have to model the right change management practices. “Harvard Business Review found the vast majority of decision makers (83 percent) believe that a change-embracing culture is extremely important to their organization’s ability to successfully adopt new digital technology capabilities quickly. For most companies, making the transition to the cloud will require not only rethinking talent strategy and organizational structure, but also a reconsideration of a company’s overall culture.”
Cloud computing is changing how we lead. It enables us to automate routine tasks and create higher-level jobs that contribute more meaningful work for employees and companies, as well as better serve customers. It also affords faster more collaborative innovation if departments learn to work together. While every company will have a different path based on their tools, processes, and culture, by embracing cloud computing, you’re improving your odds of sustained growth for the foreseeable future.
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