How can SMEs Ensure a Successful Cloud Migration Journey?

by | Aug 12, 2020 | Change enablement, Cloud migration

As cloud computing is now the new norm for enterprise IT, SME owners and their networked teams have to strategise in order to win their journey to the cloud. As Gregor Petri, Vice President Analyst at Gartner has noted, CIOs must develop a formal strategy to assist placing individual cloud decisions in the context of the company’s strategic goals.

But often, the benefits and costs combined with the immense pressure to jump on the cloud bandwagon are outweighed by the security challenges involved in migrating customer’s private data to the cloud. With the global shifts we are seeing now, moving to the cloud is however becoming increasingly vital.

Another less-talked about but much greater challenge exists however, in mindset. Organisations migrating to the cloud have a tendency to focus on the technical with complete disregard for the culture of the organisation. 

The Dark Side of Cloud Migration

Let’s take a step back and review the traditional advantages of migration to the cloud: easy access to updates, scalability, significant reduction in time and cost, automatic downloads, and process optimisation. Not to mention the consequences involved if enterprises choose to remain ‘on premise’: higher cost, lack of agility, and being perceived as lacking innovation. 

Then there’s the double-edged sword: there are many customers, who don’t trust organisations which move their data to the cloud. At the same time, agile customers demand fast and innovative services and don’t care if their data sits in the cloud or not.

How can Cloud Migration be Smooth for SMEs and Satisfy Customers?

To answer this question, I would first pose the question: What do we mean when we talk about the importance of culture of an organisation? From my experience working with enterprises and startups, I would describe it as the human factor, a dynamic process created and recreated by interactions amongst and between leaders and their networked teams, including employees and freelancers and, specifically the trust between the different parties. Migrating to the cloud involves trust not only in interfacing data and networked teams but also trust between all of the employees within an organisation.

The challenges related to trust in the journey to the cloud might include:

  • violation of the confidentiality and integrity of the data
  • security of the infrastructure and architecture
  • non-compliance with a national or international regulatory body
  • reputational risk in case of a data breach
  • trust issues with the subcontractors
  • bankruptcy of the provider

​​Beyond the listed challenges, neglecting the necessary organisational transformation by not taking into consideration the mindset of the employees and management can cause massive delays, which in turn, result in an increase in cost and a huge risk to the reputation of the decision-makers. 

Ensuring Successful Cloud Migration with Change Enablement

So, how do you ensure your organisation’s successful journey to the cloud? The answer lies in change enablement, which essentially, is enabling your enterprise, its networked team and management, to adapt their work behaviour in order to adopt new ways of working. ​

Many have privately lamented to me: “migrating to the cloud is so complex and daunting for us and the team, we would not even know where to begin.” The reason for this is a lack of change enablement within the organisation which starts well before adopting new technology to your enterprise. Change enablement continuously assists your organisation by constantly defining more efficient ways of working and in proving the value the migration will bring to your team.  

For instance, if an organisation wanted to encourage the adoption of a new cloud service, it might first communicate the purpose and benefits of the cloud service to its networked teams  and management through internal project marketing. It might then pursue training and further education with the people development team and only then develop an external communication strategy with the assistance of its marketing team. On the technical side, it would develop a Proof of Concept (PoC), which would outline the advantages of the migration to the technical team and gain buy-in from decision-makers.

To ensure success in adoption of any new cloud project, decision-makers must be organised and communicate their needs effectively with their team. Here is a quick preparation list for decision-makers to keep in mind when collaborating with the change specialist: 

  • Sharpen the cloud strategy. Develop guiding principles for your enterprise IT cloud strategy. Analyse the key people involved in the journey across departments and support a common understanding of benefits from the cloud roadmap and support process to reach management buy-in.
  • Align with your brand identity. Make sure your internal and external communication with regard to the goals of your cloud migration strategy is also aligned with your unique brand identity
  • Engage the key people involved. Assign them as change agents that can disseminate the message in the organisation.
  • Develop a common cloud glossary comprehensive for non-techies. It is important that everyone throughout the organisation can refer to the same terminology and speak the same language.
  • Analyse the impact of the cloud strategy on existing job roles. Everyone on the team should be aware of what to expect.
  • Describe potential skill gap. Develop an employee training plan to meet this gap. Identify relevant skills for future cloud operations.

Understanding the Impact of Cloud Migration on Processes

Remember that at the end of the day, the technical IT project is merely the vehicle of your digitalisation journey. Before delving into the technical details needed to pursue the migration, you should develop a Proof of Concept (PoC). PoCs are typically implemented in one business unit or in one geographic region to illustrate the advantages of the journey in a low-risk way, to learn from the experience, and to gain the necessary buy-in from decision-makers as well as disseminate the message across the organisation.

Think of it as a way to harvest low-hanging fruits after the implementation of the project.

The PoC should include documentation on the impact of current processes and tools, describe the interfaces between IT functions, the impact on operations, governance and sourcing, and define the billing and cost distribution model. Providers must also present documentation that meets the industry standards. In contrast, most providers’ platform-driven business models only offer high-level hyperlinked pieces of information on compliance required by the decision-makers in the legal departments of enterprises for a thumb-up to migrate to the cloud. In the highly regulated financial services industry FSI, for example, the fragmented style of presentation of much needed legal details is insufficient.

Cybersecurity + Privacy = Cybercapacity

Change enablement also requires tackling some underlying obstacles of many organisations – a smaller cybercapacity. Chief Information Security Officers, or CISOs, have often disclosed to me that many employees are even unaware if the software they use is hosted in the cloud or on premise. That’s a concern that spans issues involved in cybersecurity and privacy.

Migrating to the cloud requires that enterprises build capabilities to mitigate cyberrisk caused by human behaviour, as well as reducing opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit human weaknesses. Raised awareness of our own behaviours as well as our own superior cybersecurity and privacy should be an integral element of the workplace culture.

This includes a change in mindset on cybersecurity and on privacy – in essence the development of your organisation’s cybercapacity. You’ll need to analyse the skill gap, develop an employee training plan to meet this gap, and identify relevant skills for becoming cybercapable.

Transforming into a Cybercapable Organisation with Cloud

Transformation of the workplace culture is vital for a successful journey to the cloud. It all starts with change enablement and empowering your networked team employees to adopt new ways of working. Gaining buy-in from decision-makers through internal communications and a PoC is key. When your organisation is successful in empowering change in the culture, you’ll be able to enjoy the many benefits of cloud migration while minimising – if not fully eliminating – its dark side and thereby maximising the bright side.

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About the author:  Priya E. Abraham

Priya E. Abraham is the founder of Cyberconnecting and author of ‘Your Cyberpower. How to Safeguard Your Remote Business’. She is a digital transformation strategist, privacy advisor, and mentor. Priya brings 20+ years of experience in global business across industries, working with established enterprises and start-ups. In addition to holding a PhD in Business Anthropology and an MBA, she is an accredited Data Protection Officer. Priya has lived and worked in Europe, Russia, the U.S. and MENA. Her experience in all things remote is brought to life in her products and services.