Aligning Cloud Strategies With Business Results

Cloud computing has spawned enormous gains in costs and productivity. It has unleashed innovation and business disruption on a scale that would have been unfathomable only a few years ago.

But, like other digital frameworks, it is advancing and changing at a rapid rate. While virtually every organization relies on cloud computing in one form or another, many haven’t adopted the cloud broadly, and many have not ventured into the public cloud.

“There are organizations blazing the path, but many others are struggling,” says Michael Liebow, global managing director for Accenture Cloud.

When organizations and their leaders deploy public clouds, they must juggle crucial issues, such as integrating legacy infrastructure, revamping business processes and workflows, confronting regulatory issues and addressing security concerns. So they need to either develop or revamp their cloud strategy.

“Today, virtually every organization has a cloud strategy, but only about one-third of those organizations have a cloud strategy tied to business outcomes,” Liebow points out. “Too many organizations come up with reasons to avoid the public cloud rather than thinking about how it can make their organization more agile, flexible and innovative.”

Business and IT leaders must address this evolving cloud environment, including the use of public cloud services. While there’s no single route to results, it’s vitally important to identify opportunities and value points—whether they revolve around trimming costs, creating a new product or service, establishing a new business line, or merging or divesting a business.

“It’s critical to have a dynamic infrastructure that generates value,” Liebow stresses. “It’s important to disrupt rather than be disrupted.”

Weathering Massive Technology Changes

A starting point for understanding today’s IT environment, according to Liebow, is to acknowledge that “server-less computing” represents the future of enterprise computing. “At one time, it was all about the box or rack in a data center,” he says. “Now it’s about moving to a post-infrastructure framework that’s dynamic, object-oriented and highly dependent on APIs.

“Organizations are adapting their compute capacity in real time and building applications and services in record time. The era of waterfall projects that require six, 12 or 18 months is over.”

One company that’s heading into the clouds in a big way is Maritz, a sales and marketing services firm that designs and manages employee recognition and reward programs, sales channel incentive programs, and customer loyalty programs. The organization, which claims companies like GM, AT&T and Home Depot as customers, has embraced clouds to transform the enterprise and usher in fundamental changes in the way it conducts business.

“We have taken a close look at how we deliver value and how our services can be best aligned with clouds,” explains Brad Paubel, vice president of Internal Customer Technologies.

Maritz began a major foray into the cloud about two years ago. Since then, it has adopted a broad orientation to the cloud. It uses specialized cloud providers such as ServiceNow and tools such as Microsoft Office 365, but it also is branching into more generalized cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure for hosting websites and content.