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2 things are certain and they’re not death and taxes

Until recently, an organization’s IT departments’ had a simple relationship between its users and the Internet:  provide access and security for users who consuming Internet information sources.  Then came along the cloud computing paradigm which threw a proverbial spanner in the works.  The ‘techies’ love it - new toys!; the business loves it - agility, instant-on and a perception of little up front cost; IT operations groan - they still got to manage the old, new and anything between the two, and the IT assurance boys - they don’t like it much but then they are hard to please.  

Regardless of your point of view, 2 things are certain:  firstly, there will ALWAYS be change on the horizon, and secondly, there will ALWAYS be resistance to change.  Even if the drum beat of cloud computing was not reverberating through corporate and government corridors; there should be no illusion that something else would not be in its place.  The shifts in strategy are always responding to the same fundamental forces (below in no particular order) with only the relative priorities changing overtime.
  • New competition
  • Shrinking margins
  • Decreasing market share
  • Flat earnings
  • Lack of revenue growth
  • Opportunities that are very timely
  • Other relevant indicators of a declining competitive position
There can be no doubt that cloud computing is at the top of a its hype cycle which needs to prove itself as being a sustainable strategy and deliver expectations.  Cloud computing adoption is not an overnight change nor can it be achieved solely through the introduction of new technology.  In fact, a technology led approach has a very high risk of not delivering expectations or failure.  Usage of cloud computing services, whether these are consumed privately or publicly, can only be achieved through a transformation, rather than optimization; thus, making the future state directly dependent on your ability to change and the quality of the results.

The switch from an IT support function to a cloud computing delivery model requires a transformation of the IT organization, its governance and financial structure, as well as those parts of the business environment driving demand.  Whilst the accepted transformation approach considers an organization in only 3 dimensions:  people, process and technology, this is unfortunately a simplistic view of what is in fact a complex environment that can lead to uncertainty, unrealized expectations or failure.  The reason being the tendency for transformation leaders and stakeholders to subconsciously treat the in-scope environments as static; whereas, the reality is a complex dynamic interaction and behavior between multiple elements that makeup the environment.  
This may be obvious, yet, almost all transformation projects are executed as if the environment in which it operates is static, and cloud computing transformation is no exception!  Too much emphasis and measurements are given to the individual parts - management, people, knowledge, information, applications, infrastructure and workflow.  Instead, more consideration should be placed on understanding how these elements interact with each other within its environment, and the environments beyond to deliver the ultimate goals.  
For example: at the highest level, a transformation team needs to contend with 3 very different environments: current state, future state and the transformation project itself.  The fact that each of these environments is a complex system that continuously react to external and internal stimuli, is overlooked, or not anticipated.  Approaching transformations using systems thinking, rather than traditional element analysis and execution, will help to deliver expectations.  It should not come as a surprise if, over time, systems thinking becomes the norm for successfully providing and consuming cloud computing or hybrid delivery services.  We live in a world of systems, rather than one which is static and linear.
A transformation is a complex endeavourer which the transformation team, leaders and stakeholders must not lose sight of, undertake lightly, or treat as a static event.  It requires a great sense of urgency; a coalition of leaders and trusted advisers to create the vision, and empowering others to act on the vision to succeed.
  • IT Strategy and Transformation, which assesses a client’s IT environment in the context of the company’s business needs, recommends the type of environment that will best address these needs and crafts an IT strategy and associated transformation plan;
  • Strategic Service Management, which catalogues the services an IT organization must deliver to enable the company’s business strategy, identifies an appropriate funding model for each and crafts an organizational change strategy to facilitate the delivery of business value;
  • Business Value of IT, which delineates the business value of improved business processes, analyzes the risks of improving and not improving these processes and recommends a strategy to achieve these improvements;
  • Cloud Business Readiness, which evaluates the type of services that can be most effectively delivered as a shared cloud service, assesses the potential financial savings and works with CIOs to craft a business case for presenting opportunities to business executives; and
  • Mergers and Acquisitions, where it assesses the compatibility of a target company’s platforms, crafts migration and integration strategies, validates IT-related merger assumptions and calculates the impact on the financial value of the deal.


Anthony McBride | ‎08-08-2011 04:28 PM

An excellent and straightforward precis of the Cloud computing environment at the moment - especially the delineation of the current / future and transformation states. Recommended.

Nadhan | ‎08-19-2011 03:47 AM

Fully agree that change is the only constant.  Makes you wonder if Transformation is a journey or a destination.  Here is what I think: Top 5 Ways to simplify the Applications Transformation Journey

adrianvoss | ‎08-19-2011 02:18 PM

Thanks Anthony and Nadhan


@Nadhan - I agree that IT is continually 'transforming'; however, I would not use that word in all instances.  The reason being is that a transformation specifically deals with strategic change;  not tactical or continuous improvement activities.  All businesses go through a lifecycle where they are either organized for a transformation of some part of the business, but once complete, they then re-organize to optimize the maximum out of those processes until a point is reached that returns are not worth the effort.  At this point there may be another transformation.  The trick is to understand where the customer is in their business lifecycle - strategic or tactical change - so the correct effort is undertaken.

Ramakrishna G | ‎09-07-2011 06:28 PM

Quite a profound article. Elaboration on the complexities of the dynamic nature of the current and future states can help readers appreciate the importance of this.

Majority of the people in support functions are there to match their personal traits like comfort zone and risk appetite. The transformation expected of them in cloud computing could be too big a step for them.

adrianvoss | ‎09-12-2011 10:28 PM

This is true and there seems to be a slow realization that there is more to cloud than what comes in a box.

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About the Author
Adrian Voss is engaged in traditional and cloud tranformation programmes and experienced in leading multi-country IT transformation, IT outs...

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