Neelima Misra

AI, Analytics and RPA Lead

To cloud or not to cloud: Finding answers for data driven organizations

2019-jun-03 20:01:17

A utility company was trying sell parts of its business as operations cost was high. After a careful consideration on what to sell and what to keep, this company chose to sell the core utility business and retain the data (customer, utilization, consumption patterns, seasonal variations and fraud data) business.

It is becoming an alternative reality; businesses are realizing the true potential of their data only in recent years. Digital native companies knew the value of their data from day one. However, traditional companies are also slowly realizing the potential opportunities of being a data driven organization.

I have been engaged with a healthcare group who has been collecting patient data for a long period of time. Only in recent past they have realized if patient data is leveraged efficiently, it increases practitioners’ potential of providing better services to patients.

However, collecting all these data in one place and finding out patterns comes with its own set of challenges. Storage of data is becoming cheaper; however, computing data to analyze patterns are still expensive. The more types (sensor data, images, voice data, videos) of data you find interesting for your business the more compute power is needed.

While cloud can be one great way to address the computation power and scaling needs, many companies are concerned about compliance and PII (personally identifying information) data governance when comes to cloud.

If your organization sees value in all kind of data you gather and consume, public or hybrid cloud is going to be your ultimate reality. If you are still skeptical about your cloud readiness, consider the following key drivers that may help you to make up your mind

People and culture

In your company, people have acted as touch points between isolated systems, scattered data sets and supply-demand gaps. Hence a lot of knowledge about your IT landscape, critical data assets are available with your people. Cataloging your business-critical data assets is a very important step towards your cloud journey.

The real test of your cloud readiness comes into play when you start presenting the idea of moving to cloud in front of your employees, your leadership and your key business stakeholders.  

An overall understanding of how the whole organization feels about the cloud journey will help a lot to define next steps. Recently, one of our customers decided to take help of master thesis students conduct a survey on risks and opportunities of their own cloud journey. Choose your suitable way to gather inputs from all level or your organization to have better preparedness towards this journey.

Business model 

Your business model is unique in nature. Hence the risk and opportunities you have may vary from what your peers in the same industry. Please pay close attention to your business model or the future changes to your business strategy. In some cases, going cloud in your current business model may look completely irrelevant. However, if you broaden your horizon, you may realize that cloud is only solution for your future business strategy.

A manufacturing company I worked few years back had no choice but to suddenly initiate extensive cloud strategy discussion as their agenda of ‘Smart and sustainable product’ demanded heavy amount of sensor data collected from assembly lines ensure the product optimizations they were implementing do not compromise the quality.

Information Technology (IT) landscape

Your IT landscape defines how you will migrate to cloud. Please review applications in your IT landscape to make an informed decision on your cloud journey. Few interesting areas to review are

  • -Cloud road map of your business-critical systems
  • -Migrate to cloud versus buy/build on cloud
  • -Possibilities of discarding legacy systems with limited user base
  • -Security requirements and design
  • -Software licenses and related implication on cloud strategy
  • -Response time and related commitment to business
  • -Business hours and work load distribution (peak hours, off hours, seasonal peaks, monthly high volume processing)

 

There are many more parameters that impacts a cloud strategy. The above list provides the foundation to evaluate your overall IT landscape in the context to cloud journey.

Regulatory and compliance needs

The fear of moving to cloud is greatly related to the industry you are in and the regulatory and compliance aspects of the industry within which you function. Financial services, Pharmaceutical, Healthcare industries have multi-dimensional regulatory implications and hence a clear evaluation on which data asset you should not move to cloud is a critical decision to be made as part of the strategy. However, you can look at private or hybrid cloud as other alternatives of public cloud in case you still looking options.

In summary, different businesses will move to cloud at different pace. ‘To cloud or not to cloud’ is no more a valid question. The more important question is when and how you want to embark in this journey.

Tags: Digital_Transformation IT-strategi AI CIO Big_Data