May 6, 2019 By Albert McKeon 3 min read

The term “cloud first” has different meanings for different organizations, and no two companies’ journeys to a cloud-first position are exactly alike.

That’s why outlining a cloud strategy road map, a thorough guide to embracing the cloud, can help organizations prepare for their specific needs.

A cloud-first strategy shapes how enterprises handle both technology and business decisions. It considers the nitty-gritty of operations and sets a foundation for larger pursuits, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), to help enterprises pursue business initiatives without hesitation.

Before implementing a cloud strategy, it’s important to set out a road map to ensure your early steps toward a cloud-first initiative are on sound footing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on that journey.

“Cloud first” doesn’t mean “cloud only”

Many assume “cloud first” means every new technological project must be vetted for the cloud. Others argue that while many tasks are well suited for the cloud, critical applications should stay on premises for the sake of control.

There’s benefit to keeping certain technologies in-house, but that doesn’t mean an enterprise can’t adopt a cloud-first mentality. Being cloud first pushes organizations to always review how the many advantages of cloud technology, including improved scalability, more effective resilience and easier capital cost management, can more quickly deliver products and services. It’s a conversation worth having for every business opportunity.

View cloud strategy as part of both IT and business

The efficiency and flexibility of a business rely a great deal on technology; and, as such, decisions surrounding them should be intertwined.

That’s why it’s critical to not view cloud first as simply an IT strategy. Pigeonholing technological decisions that shape outcomes can overlook the value that business leaders provide when they also review cloud initiatives. HR leaders, for example, might know all about the upsides of a particular cloud technology after attending a conference. IT isn’t always directly on the pulse of business functions and could underestimate the disruption a sudden technological change might cause.

Form a “cloud center of excellence”

To ensure all voices are heard, follow the lead of other enterprises and create a committee that oversees the study, implementation, management and evolution of a cloud-first strategy. Some organizations call this body a “cloud center of excellence”, or a CCoE. The committee should align to company practices and goals with the proper cloud-based services.

The CCoE should set goals and deadlines, spearhead training programs and look for new opportunities. It should consistently cheerlead the use of cloud technology, but with a full measure of reasoning about why it matters.

The CIO, CMO, development and operations, HR leaders, data scientists, and other key roles within an organization can belong to a CCoE. However, don’t forget to include front-line business managers, too. These roles will have ground-level insight into how the cloud can improve key revenue-generating functions such as sales, marketing and customer experience. Demonstrate how a potential cloud application can enhance their work while accepting their feedback.

Go at your own pace

Even if your organization goes all in on a cloud-first strategy, it doesn’t have to immediately shift everything to the cloud. You have some time to wait.

As workflows and applications become more mobile-centric — and because AI and IoT are conducive to how products and services are developed — it’s only natural that organizations will increasingly turn to the cloud. The flexibility of cloud services may prove particularly appealing for enterprises that need to make big architectural changes in order to accommodate new technologies.

These steps can help you avoid some of the most common obstacles that stop a cloud-first strategy in its tracks. That strategy will likely evolve as business pursuits and technology change, but a well-thought-out cloud strategy road map will provide the foundation for a seamless transition to the cloud.

Looking to help your organization create a cloud-first strategy for the future? Register to learn more about finding the next-generation cloud platform that will work best for your business.

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