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Measuring enterprise cloud maturity

What the data tells us and how you can apply it in your organization.

Organizations undertake transformation initiatives because they expect that, once the transformation has been completed, the benefits will outweigh the costs and risks. Along the way, they will face opportunities, challenges, and decisions. The key to success is not in eliminating risk but in understanding and managing it, and taking strategic risks where the outcomes can be predicted.

A transformation and adoption framework gives you a structure and common language to understand where you are in your journey, benchmark against best practices, and prioritize the right next steps for your organization in a methodical way. An effective framework will be broad in scope, covering the strategic, organizational, people, and technology components of transformation.

A framework for cloud operating model adoption

Over hundreds of engagements spanning public cloud and on-prem cloud transformation, IT modernization, and edge computing, we have formed a strong viewpoint on the areas organizations need to focus on to succeed at transformation. Our edge-to-cloud adoption framework identifies the capability domains you need to progress in to build an operating model that supports your business goals (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: HPE Edge to Cloud Adoption Framework

Through experience in customer engagements, we've identified eight domains of enabling capability that are critical to effective operating model transformation:

  • Strategy and governance: Perhaps the single most important determinant of transformation success or failure: You must understand what direction you are taking and why, with clear objectives and buy-in.
  • Innovation: Enabling new innovations faster is one of the key goals for many organizations' move to a cloud operating model.
  • People: Adapting to cloud-everywhere ways of working and the skills required to do that may be more complex than you think. Your people can be the best catalyst—or the biggest obstacle—to transformation success.
  • Operations: Adopting a single, consistent operating model from edge to cloud simplifies operations and allows you to bring greater agility and effectiveness to existing operations.
  • Innovation: Enabling new innovations faster is one of the key goals for many organizations' move to a cloud operating model.
  • Applications: The right application strategy involves progressive, data-driven processes for identifying the right mix of platforms for your workloads based on performance, cost, and risk parameters.
  • DevOps: Agility happens when you can accelerate your software engineering cycles. But you must evolve processes, tools, and behaviors to make this a reality.
  • Data: Data can be the basis for your digital advantage. But you have to be able to make data available to data consumers in a timely fashion to extract value from it.
  • Security: Security must be baked into every part of your edge-to-cloud estate. This requires the right tools, processes, and people working together with the same goals.

A progressive path to maturity

We use this common language of the eight-domain framework in customer engagements to evaluate each customer's maturity. Each domain is comprised of a number of capability areas against which an organization's landscape is evaluated.

Please read: Modernizing applications for the cloud experience everywhere

Overall customer maturity in each domain is evaluated on a five-point scale as follows:

  1. Ad-hoc: This is the lowest level of capability. The customer may have low or no cloud operating model capability or isolated instances of cloud capability.
  2. Adapting: There is evidence that the customer is progressing in cloud capability beyond isolated instances.
  3. Cloud-enabled: A customer at level 3 in a domain possesses the capability in that domain to have an effective cloud operating model. For many organizations, level 3 is a valid aspiration, depending on business goals.
  4. Optimized: The organization is progressing to optimizing its cloud operating model capabilities to achieve greater value.
  5. Maximized value: The organization has achieved best practice cloud operating model capability in the domain, as evaluated against peers and industry benchmarks.

Objective measurement of the extent of capability development in each domain is used to establish a view of the level of completion of each maturity level. An example of how this evaluation looks for a typical customer engagement is shown in Figure 2. Capability progression usually works in a linear way, so that 100 percent completion of level 1 capability in a given domain provides the foundation for the customer to start working effectively on level 2 and so on.

Figure 2: Example customer maturity readout

What the data tells us

We examined maturity data from our most recent transformation engagements. The data represents 34 engagements, across manufacturing, financial services/insurance, healthcare, chemical/process, energy, and healthcare/life science industries in North America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe.

Across the population, average maturity across the eight domains still has a lot of room for improvement. Most organizations still have work to do to achieve mastery of the level 1 and 2 capabilities in most domains (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Average customer maturity progression

Best practice organizations are progressing beyond cloud-enabled capability in selected domains. The top 20 percent of organizations in our population are on the way to maturity at the third level across all domains, with work to do in selected areas.

Typically, organizations will prioritize a subset of domains to focus on based on their business goals. For example, a chemical industry company looking to accelerate product and service innovation decided to focus on progressing DevOps and innovation capabilities.

Please read: Why compute management is moving to the cloud

The level of capability progression of the most advanced engagement in each domain is shown in Figure 4. In almost all domains, progress to a cloud-enabled operating model has been made, with the greatest progress in DevOps, which tends to be low-hanging fruit for most organizations.

Figure 4: Best practice maturity by domain

Significant variability exists across domains and organizations, but the People domain is universally the most challenging to progress. With an average maturity score of 1.74, People is the weakest domain across the sample population (see Figure 5). Across years of experience in transformation engagements, we have found that deficiencies in people-related capabilities are usually easy to identify but difficult to solve—partly because the challenges can be slow to change due to inherently embedded cultural factors but also because of leadership reticence to take on the time and financial investment needed to enact cultural and workforce change.

Across our engagements, organizations tend to prioritize initiatives that touch the Security and Operations domains—and there we see progression of capability beyond 2.0 on average and beyond the "cloud-enabled" minimum benchmark of 3.0 in the more advanced organizations. Both Security and Operations domains are complex but benefit from well-defined best practices and frameworks.

Please read: How enterprises are securing themselves with zero trust

The Applications, Innovation, and Data domains lag in average maturity, partly because they often require a foundation in the Strategy, Security, Operations, and People domains to be present before significant progress can be made.

The most advanced domain across our population is DevOps. The technology and practices are clearly defined and well-established. It's easier to observe results faster in application teams when DevOps is properly adopted and positive reinforcement of success comes more readily.

Figure 5: Average maturity attained by domain

Bringing it all together

A structured approach to understanding your cloud operating model capabilities gives you a way to prioritize the right transformation moves for your business and helps you understand the progress you are making against both your own history and best practices. With an understanding of what the blockers to progress—or the accelerants of it—are within a domain, you can push past obstacles to take your transformation to the next level with confidence in the outcomes.

But the real "so what" is how you can use the framework to take your organization forward, including:

  • Align around a common language. Effective transformation requires everyone to be on board. A common framework can help you develop an organization-wide ability to communicate priorities, align around goals, and exchange ideas.
  • Benchmark against best practice. A commonly applied framework gives you the ability to see where you stand against peers. It's also helpful when new people come into your organization from the outside. It's easier to get them up to speed if you're speaking a language that they're familiar with.
  • Measure progress. Quantitative and consistent evaluation of your capabilities gives you a reliable means of gauging progress against your goals and course correcting accordingly.
  • Identify your blind spots. It's not uncommon for transformation initiatives to be scoped according to the level of knowledge of the architects of the initiative. This can leave your initiative at risk of missing key topic areas—especially if you have a team that is focused more on the technology than the people or process side. A holistic, field-tested framework can ensure you approach your transformation with a full view of the playing field. 

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.