Over the last year, perhaps unsurprisingly, increasing numbers of companies have made the jump to the cloud. It’s become a necessary move for so many businesses. But, as I discussed with Joe DosSantos on the latest episode of Data Brilliant – the rewards are abundant, but the journey is not always straight forward.
Having led cloud migration efforts at Sun Life Financial, a Canadian financial services company, and now my current company, Rogers, a communications and media company, we discussed my key takeaways from these experiences.
The Case for Cloud
If I’m honest, it’s all comes down to agility. If your organization is looking to be more agile in terms of IT operations, application and digital development, and how it interacts with customers, then cloud is the solution for you.
As I discussed with Joe, there are three main ingredients for initiating a successful journey. Firstly, as with many aspects of digital transformation, top-down executive support and alignment is key. This buy-in is crucial from the beginning.
Secondly, ensure you do the groundwork. This means having a data and analytics strategy in place that outlines the steps you need to make sure your business is hitting its objectives. Thirdly, it’s all about looking end-to-end across your entire enterprise and assessing the skills, roles and operating model in place driving your data strategy. A lot of times, the downfall with many organizations is they are too siloed in this assessment and end up focusing on a specific business unit or technology stack. You have to look at the whole enterprise.
However, as I said to Joe, ultimately, these components don’t need to be perfect before you start your cloud migration journey – you just need to have them in some shape or form. Because, like many things in life, if you wait for the perfect time, it will likely never happen.
Communicating the Power of Data
Communicating the power of data to wider teams within the organization is often a key challenge for many of us in the data field. So, how do you ensure that analytics is front and center in your business? For me, it’s all about benchmarking.
It is hugely important in any data and analytics or cloud migration journey. It can help bridge the gap between the person that doesn’t necessarily see the value in data analytics, and those in the detail of the data.
At Rogers Communications, for example, we undertook a benchmarking exercise last year and discovered that we may not have been in the lead of all aspects from a data and analytics maturity perspective. But, from a cloud perspective we were the front runners. Highlighting our position from a data analytics maturity perspective sparked some constructive discussions amongst senior executives about what we need to do to progress, how we do it and what tools, processes, peoples and skills we need to reach that higher level. We were able to channel our competitive spirit to fast-track top-down buy-in.
Building Out a Data Strategy
I’m sorry to say there is no secret sauce. It all comes down to aligning on the key areas you need to focus on as a business for the near future. Your strategy will be executed over the next one to three years, so naturally it won’t be set in stone; it will be a living, breathing artifact that moves with your business.
Culture is also a key consideration; data literacy competency is important for the success of any data strategy. At Rogers Communications, we built our first-ever data policy during this process, bringing to light just how much people care about how we use and consume data.
Don’t Overlook Data Governance
Over the last 14 months we’ve established an enterprise data advisory council at both an operational and executive level across all lines of the business and technology teams.
The focus is on open communication and awareness between these groups. These councils are still evolving, but they allow teams to have their voices heard when it comes to how we access and how we consume data. It also ensures data isn’t an afterthought in programs and is front and center from the beginning.
As Joe and I discussed at length, the beginning of any digital transformation process always seems daunting, and I won’t beat around the bush: Cloud migration is a complex journey. But, speaking from experience, once you get started and see the benefits rolling in, you’ll never look back.