Is culture 'clouding' our vision?

Linda King, Chief Marketing Officer at Brightsolid, looks at whether it is people, not processes, that are the biggest roadblock to successful adoption of cloud strategies.

Cloud computing is on the up. Adoption continues to grow, with a recent Intel survey suggesting that 80% of IT spend will be devoted to cloud within the next 18 months. In addition, by 2020, 95% of organizations will be using cloud to support core business operations (moving beyond experimental and nonstrategic use of cloud) – (Gartner, 2018)

But when you think about cloud computing adoption, what’s the biggest obstacle you think you would face? Ensuring you had the right technology and right cloud solution to get things done? Getting the right processes and security in place?

When industry analysts Gartner recently surveyed IT leaders who attended their 2017 Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre summit and were asked the question: ‘what was the biggest obstacle to adopting Cloud?’ – the answer was clear (and surprising!). The biggest obstacle to successfully adopting Cloud Computing is PEOPLE as opposed to process, technology or information — as the greatest issue.

Over 44% experienced cultural issues of some sort; resistance to change, absence of trust, lack of motivation, cloud confusion and more; and more than 21% experienced people and skills related issues.

This evidence creates a challenge. It clearly shows that there is not enough focus on the cultural and people element of cloud. But why is this?

Cloud computing is often considered a technical and process based change as opposed to a culture change. In addition, often decisions and transformation programmes around cloud computing are made and managed by leaders who are very technical in nature. It’s the natural instinct (and comfort zone) of those with a deep technical background to start and often end transformation initiatives with the ‘How’. For example; ‘How do we leverage Cloud computing to launch new apps’, ‘how do we leverage cloud computing to enable our bimodal IT strategy’?

This clearly puts the cart before the horse, because the context, need for the transformation and the reasons for implementing cloud computing are not thought through and communicated effectively. In this overfocus on ‘how’, the two most critical starting elements — the “why” and the “what” — go missing!

To successfully address the cultural and people issues, IT leaders need to start with the ‘why’. They need to explain the vision, including the justification and rationale behind any cloud-based transformation. It’s really important, in order to overcome cultural barriers, that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding why this change is being instituted, and exactly what the transformation or initiative is, before they need to know how to undertake it.

The ‘what’ creates the clarity which is so often missing in cloud transformation initiatives. Cloud computing might not be new, but it continues to be surrounded by confusion and misunderstanding. If a clear definition is not provided, it can result in confusion within teams, where various people define an initiative in different ways

Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ can be used as a tool to communicate transformational cloud computing initiatives and motivate key stakeholders. Taking this approach can help leaders articulate to everyone involved clearly why working practices must change, what they should change, and then how they should implement the change.

Cloud computing success requires a focus on strong leadership, communication and ultimately culture to succeed.