Cloud technologies truly found value for businesses in light of the pandemic. It enabled whole organizations to rapidly shift operations, communications, services and products into a virtual, easy-access environment, whilst leaving those companies yet to make the transition, scrambling to cloud vendors. This delineation between the haves and the have-nots was a case study in foresight and technology investment.
With Brigid Nzekwu moderating the roundtable debate, the speakers include:
- Ashish Arora, VP UKI & Benelux, HCL Technologies
- Darren Miles, CIO, Centrica
- Paul Coby, CIO, Johnson Matthey
- Jacqui Lipinski, CIO & Director of Digital & Technical Services, Royal College of Art
Cloud technologies and vendors
Providing the vendor perspective for the roundtable, Ashish began with what he had noted from customers of HCL Technologies. And although different customers were implementing Cloud in myriad ways, he listed three areas in his mind where he thought Cloud technologies needed to be evolved.
“The next shift of Cloud is to a product-orientated operating model,” said Ashish. “This move should align with the underlying Cloud platform, where end-to-end services deliver those values back to the business and end customers.
“Next, over the last two years some customers have either lifted and shifted [their environments to Cloud], modernized, or a combination of these, but now there’s a need for cloud native services to improve the consumer experience. Right now the power of Cloud is still not at the scale of where these customers would want.
“And third,” he added, “cost optimization of Cloud is an imperative. What is the real cost of Cloud technologies to the business and how is that reported in a decentralized way?”
Exploring the value
Centrica is already well into its Cloud and SaaS transformation, according to Darren Miles. With nearly 80% of its environment in some form of the public cloud, the energy firm has seen its workforce be more productive, agile and flexible, whilst also controlling costs and releasing new product lines. The next step for Centrica is to learn what worked and didn’t work over the last two years—the platforms that were ready to flex as the industry went remote, for instance—and consider a cloud-always strategy, rather than a cloud-first approach.
In this way, “Centrica can create the product we know customers want because [a cloud-always strategy] has allowed us to automate the processes right up until that moment,” Darren explained.
Both Paul of Johnson Matthey and Jacqui, newly at Royal College of Arts, were highly specific in their review of the Cloud technologies policies one needs to secure value moving forward—although they approached the challenge from two different perspectives.
Johnson Matthey recognizes not just where Cloud can deliver value, but where it won’t. As its CIO, he’s more concerned about a Cloud policy that doesn’t dogmatically enforce the technology without a cost-benefit analysis. There are three areas where he sees that analysis checking out, financially.
“Where you can have global services in the Cloud, such as communications and Zoom in the Cloud, when you are looking at specific applications that add value to the company based on its Cloud integration, and when you want to build a Cloud-first community within the organization, like a digital task force, that helps you understand what to grow and how Cloud technologies can play a part, are the three areas we see the most value for the technology.”
In a very different sector, Jacqui noted that historically, technology and the business haven’t always been aligned, which had made any investment in solutions such as Cloud a far more complex affair than it ought to have been. Across her five-point plan she shared with the roundtable on what should happen next for businesses and their Cloud strategies, many focus on honing the business, technology relationship.
“The first area I would consider is cultural change,” she said. “Business and IT should work very closely together in order to make Cloud a success. Second is capabilities and skills, so understanding what sets are required right now, and what need to be evolved to make the best use of Cloud technologies. Third, data. What single source of truth do you have and how can the insights be used for your unique selling proposition to market to customers? Fourth, governance models, in which a business moves away from multiple committees making decisions, and fifth, analyzing the supplier landscape. There is amazing innovation coming from that space and you need to be made aware of it.”
This roundtable on Cloud technologies was sponsored by HCL Technologies.