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A five-phase journey is used by organizations to achieve cloud-based digital transformation.

How top performers approach digital transformation

To succeed at digital transformation, enterprises must learn to speak cloud.

9 September 2016

By Ronda Swaney, contributing writer

"The biggest lesson I've learned in my career is that you need to take a step back and look at the forest through the trees," says Jeanne Morain, principal researcher and consulting strategist at iSpeak Cloud. In her recently published book, iSpeak Cloud: Embracing Digital Transformation, Morain distills prescriptive insights on cloud and digital transformation from nearly 60 interviews with IT leaders.

In the book, Morain notes that for many organizations, digital evolution has occurred haphazardly rather than intentionally. At the high-performing organizations she studied, there was more planning, and successful transformation meant spending more time on creating a smart strategy than on delivery and execution. And for that planning to be effective, she says, IT leaders must be actively involved.

"Look at the strategic goals and objectives of your company, then consider the people and processes already in place," she says. "Once you've got those parts figured out, then you can adapt technology to fit your needs. Tech is always more adaptable than people."

The foundation of a successful vision

The book details a five-phase journey used by successful organizations to achieve cloud-based digital transformation. The first phase is to create a cloud center of excellence, a cross-functional team that defines strategies and policies. From there, businesses create a roadmap, evaluate costs, and reconcile vision to reality—then they execute and evaluate. It's not easy (the details literally fill a book), but underscoring it all is a business/IT alignment that makes the process possible:

  1. Business and IT goals must intertwine. When the business is charged with driving growth and innovation, but IT is tasked with cutting costs, you have misalignment. "IT ends up cutting costs on critical areas so they can feed the requirements and budget for innovation, or they apply budget to areas that are starving," Morain says. "As a result, you have critical initiatives that never see the light of day."
  2. Senior sponsorship provides top-down direction. "Without a high level of visibility, you won't have the budget or influence to make this change," Morain says.
  3. Leaders articulate a vision that aligns business and IT. "Communication is the number one factor in success or failure. Everyone in the company has to see the vision," she says. "Everyone has to be behind the change or it simply will not happen."
Technology and process shouldn't be done to users; they should be done with users.

 

That communication is vital—and it's about more than dictating a message. It's about engaging the support of your employees and/or customers in a user-in approach. "You must take a user approach to digital transformation," Morain says. "Technology and process shouldn't be done to users; they should be done with users. The core of this process is people. You have to understand the people side of it best of all."

Process and technology, she says, are much easier to redesign. "The only thing you can't control are people's actions and attitudes," she says. "If people aren't following, using, leveraging, and supporting the technology and processes, your transformation will fail, and you'll be on the sidelines wondering why."

For Morain's step-by-step approach to five phases of a cloud evolution, download the digital version of iSpeak Cloud: Embracing Digital Transformation to learn how leading IT organizations drive success.

Ronda Swaney is a professional healthcare and IT writer, blogger, and content marketer.

 

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