If emerging digital players walking on their turf was not enough...
The pandemic has forced large and established businesses to accelerate their digital transformation to maintain their competitive edge and retain customers.
In most cases, this will require a migration to the cloud, which is more easily said than done for organisations that have huge IT legacy infrastructure under the hood. In fact, legacy infrastructure is still mentioned as one of the key barriers to cloud adoption. But despite the obstacles, ANZ businesses have been prompt to embrace the cloud, with an estimated 43% of IT systems in the region already migrated.
Looking at large companies driving their migration, those that best managed the transition usually follow the same principles that are instrumental in a successful cloud migration, and broader digital transformation.
1. Consider hybrid cloud models
Every business has to consider which model is relevant for them based on their operations, processes, industry, and customers. But hybrid cloud frameworks offer benefits most large companies recognise, and a recent study shows that 78% of businesses list support for hybrid or multi-cloud as a must-have when looking for cloud providers.
So why the hype? Migrating to the cloud is rarely about moving all systems to one cloud. A hybrid cloud model means running each business application, process or department it aims to transform on the infrastructure that will best address the efficiency, data, workload, privacy, security or access requirements, whether it means using public cloud, private cloud or on-premise resources.
Nowadays, relying only on data centres is not flexible enough, and a hybrid framework allows for:
- Old and new systems to operate together. No need to transform all infrastructure in one go.
- Leveraging the scalability of the cloud to support business and computing resources’ growth without having to invest heavily in hardware.
- Quickly changing systems and solutions where and when needed. That agility is a welcoming move to rapidly evolving customers’ needs, new market trends or the kind of disruption we have experienced with the pandemic.
Finally, a hybrid cloud model brings businesses more control over their systems, as they’re not tied to a single cloud provider.
2. Understanding that static data = static business
Despite the praise about the benefits, many businesses are struggling to drive value from their hybrid cloud investments. This is because they omit another necessary transition: shifting from data at rest to data in motion.
In order to create omnichannel, state-of-the-art digital services that are synchronised, it requires large amounts of data to flow quickly and seamlessly between all systems and technologies involved in a hybrid cloud structure. For example, a customer may buy a product on a website, and the information about this purchase (invoice, tracking, order history) has to synchronise instantly with the app, even if the website and app may not run on the same systems / clouds. Data has to be in motion for this to happen.
It is with this objective in mind that Apache Kafka was created. Kafka is a software framework that sits at the intersection of all systems within a hybrid infrastructure, allowing data the company owns and generates to flow between them. With all data streams flowing through one system, organisations can monitor and act in real-time to improve digital services, and customer experience.
3. Taking baby steps
Another barrier to the cloud that organisations often mention is the uncertainty around costs and capabilities. Just because the pace of digital transformation requires quick turnarounds to stay competitive, it would be a mistake to prioritise a speedy migration to the detriment of a test & learn phase, which is essential.
Starting with a small cloud project addressing a specific business case or application is a much easier first step into the cloud world, and provides more certainty on costs, infrastructure design and skills. Once companies are more comfortable with how they can harness hybrid cloud and data in motion, they can start maturing and consider larger projects and migrations.
4. Old and new complement each other
A common mistake for traditional businesses is to adopt a rip and replace approach. Some commentators promote the benefits of this approach, but existing systems can still bring a lot of value in a new infrastructure, and getting rid of them is losing their potential contribution to that infrastructure, and therefore part of its value and initial investment. As a best practice, it is recommended to explore how the old and the new can complement each other to implement the key technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine-Learning or the Internet of Things, that will modernise different aspects of the business and the customer experience until the old becomes obsolete and needs to be replaced.
5. Outsource what you don’t need to do in-house
A cloud migration is not a project, it is a journey. In order to go from point A to point B, do you really need to buy your own car, or have you considered using a ridesharing service? Companies shouldn’t try to drive all these changes with in-house resources.
The current skills gap in Australia is simply too real, and gathering a technical team that could drive the entire migration alone is a challenge. Between long recruitment processes, and high salaries, the only human cost of the migration could be very high.
Rather, companies should look for technical project managers acting as the point of coordination between the company’s leadership and the partners that would help drive different aspects of the migration. Businesses that manage to get the right partners at the right time in their journey are often those who manage to achieve the two key efficiencies of a cloud migration: innovation and cost-efficiency.
These are broad trends that tend to impact the digital transformation of businesses positively. Ultimately, the success and digital impact of our businesses in Australia is also defining the country’s influence in the digital ecosystem, which will be instrumental in defining a country’s competitiveness in the future.