“The Cloud” is a journey, not a destination.

Recently i’ve been reviewing past cloud software implementations to find trends in successful implementations. Through this process I have confirmed a theory i’ve had for a number of years, moving to “the cloud” is a journey, not a destination.

Most businesses approach me for one of the following reasons:

  • My server is on its last legs, so now is a good time to move to the cloud.
  • I want to run my business with real time dashboards.
  • I watched some software marketing and want to use it to automate my business and save money.
  • We want to be more “agile,” “innovative,” “collaborative”…insert buzz word.

Whilst software can address each one of these use cases, the reality is that the implementation is doomed to fail from conception, as technology is only part of the equation.

Most businesses throw software at their inefficiencies and barriers to growth. They expect that the results portrayed in the software vendor’s case studies will materialise without any real change to the underlying processes, or the people controlling them.

Got a collaboration problem? You just need Slack. Is project management an issue? Asana will fix that, there’s an integration between them so it will work seamlessly….right? Wrong!

The reason that software implementations fail is that business owners expect the software and its implemtentation to conform to the current “way of doing things”. Expecting it to address the pain points like a magical silver bullet that spreads innovation and automatically automates their world. However, the devil is in the detail and it’s only when the system goes live do people within the business realise the huge gap between their current processes and the software’s prescribed workflows.

Most of the processes and policies which form the “way of doing things” have come about through years of hacks, excel spreadsheets and adoption of the workflows prescribed by the legacy software. Attempting to retain these old processes during the implementation of new cloud software equates to shoving a square peg through a round hole, it’s near on impossible and negates the possibility of real improvement in the business.

Cloud Software is fundamentally different to the legacy systems it replaces (including Excel). These legacy systems have traditionally been used to store, calculate and retrieve data in a range of different reports. Relying largely on humans to input and manipulate the data to obtain the desired outcome.

The promise of cloud software comes in leveraging the power offered by Google and Amazon Web Services stitching together thousands of computers to form “The Cloud”. This new generation of software technology can deliver on its promises of automation, mobility, machine learning, and real time data because it has been developed from the ground up by teams of engineers. These geniuses are stressing the details to make technological miracles happen to create a platform for new streamlined processes that are free from the encumbrances of the past.

Cloud software is in a constant state of evolution, with updates and new features being released on a monthly basis to improve the user experience, refine the data management process and offer increasingly deeper and more powerful integrations with other software. Once a business is using cloud software it should continue to assess how these improvements can be leveraged to form cycles of continuous improvement.

In 2017, technology underpins every function of every business, with each of these functions being governed by processes, controlled by people. In order to properly adopt cloud software and its promise of automation, mobility and real time data we must be prepared to rethink every process, policy and job description in our businesses. Cloud technology must be viewed as an enabler, a catalyst for addressing the mountains of management debt built up through years of hacks, caused by disconnected systems and misaligned business objectives.

The challenge is that achieving this takes time, patience and resilience from management, you can’t enact this much change in weeks or months and still run daily operations. It requires leadership that challenges the old way of doing things, to think outside the box and develop new ways to capture data, deliver goods and services, whilst streamlining the underlying processes in all areas of the business.

The cloud is not a destination, it’s a journey to unify technology, people and processes.

Like what you read? Give Michael Macolino a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.