Thought Leadership Article
How does the cloud accelerate innovation by infusing itself into organizations?
Beyond its technical and financial impact, the Cloud affects the organization of a company. Its impact certainly is on the CIO’s department, but also on all the company's directions. Today, the cloud is breaking free from IT and is becoming an inclusive topic intimately connected to business strategy.
More than ever, it is the catalyst for sustainable innovation at a scale which includes all the players in the company.
The cloud is disrupting IT departments
While the concept emerged some 15 years ago, the cloud is experiencing a very strong acceleration in the context of the health crisis and with the maturity of both the offer and mindsets on the topic. This new stage in the appropriation of the Cloud should enable us to consider it in all its dimensions.
For a long time, the Cloud was perceived solely from a technical and financial perspective. By transferring its major applications to the cloud, a company gains in operational efficiency and optimizes its costs. Beyond its IT cost bill, the adoption of the cloud impacts both the organization and the operational model of the IT department. Its center of gravity is shifting. With the standardization and automation brought by the cloud, fewer people are needed to "operate" and potentially more to design and "develop" applications.
On the other hand, this paradigm shift is also part of a real cultural revolution. We are moving from a "network" culture to a "software" culture. With the cloud, everything is soluble in coding, and particularly infrastructure. Operating an infrastructure thus implies new skills, the prerogative of software engineers who naturally know how to handle these platforms more than network engineers or other system administrators. The reflexes and other agile rituals of software development are therefore naturally diffused in these "infra" teams of a new kind, organized within autonomous and multidisciplinary feature teams. These teams are guided by the moving "backlog" of the product owners and driven by the traditional "scrum masters".
The cloud is spreading to the other floors of the company
At a time of historic acceleration in digital practice, and particularly in e-commerce (+8.5% in 2020 for the sale of goods*) or remote work, companies are becoming more than ever "tech companies". Technology is at the heart of their products and services. The cloud is on Executive Management’s agenda. It is becoming a strategic topic that concerns and involves all the company's departments.
The finance department is of course directly impacted by this shift to a pay-per-use model for IT resources. A whole financial engineering process must be put in place with FinOps type profiles, endowed with a "tech" sensitivity. For the IT department, beyond the organizational and skills issues, the cloud raises questions of sovereignty, compliance and security. Finally, for business departments, the cloud allows them to reduce “time-to-market”, and facilitates scaling up, by focusing on value creation rather than technical development.
These tools have an impact on culture and reflexes: a new culture of data to be understood, including an awareness of the costs associated with the use of these technologies.
Towards a new, shared and balanced approach to innovation between users and technology, business and IT
Moving resource-intensive applications to the cloud is just the beginning of a sustainable transformation, a groundswell that goes beyond how IT resources are delivered at scale. It's a new framework for sustainable innovation backed by the extremely powerful data and artificial intelligence services available in the cloud. A firepower that is largely under-exploited today, at a time when the foundations are just being laid.
The cloud multiplies the potential for innovation by democratizing access to an unprecedented catalog of tools and enablers that help blur the traditional and sclerotic boundaries between IT and business. These are a kind of "superpowers" accessible to all (or almost all) that facilitate a salutary hybridization between vision, design and production.
We can build faster, bigger and with fewer people. Technology is no longer reserved for a few experts but is decentralized to the business. The tools push to disobey for more creativity in the end. Finally, it is the very essence of innovation that we find through this modularization and abstraction of technical capabilities (a cocktail of computing, network and storage capacities): the art of combining bricks together to elegantly respond to a real problem.
This cathartic liberation of the technology's potential draws new approaches to managing innovation that are more balanced between design and tech: design thinking revisited in the infant stages of the cloud! An even more advanced hybridization in the exploration phases between user research, market analysis and detailed knowledge of the technological potential of the cloud, to move from this cloud mythology to a methodology that produces tangible results. Having modernized information systems and laid these solid foundations, it's now time to make the most of their potential by inventing virtuous solutions.
*Fevad : https://www.fevad.com/bilan-du-e-commerce-en-2020-les-ventes-sur-internet-atteignent-112-milliards-deuros-grace-a-la-digitalisation-acceleree-du-commerce-de-detail/