Enterprise cloud journeys in 2019: Plain sailing or storms on the horizon?
A rising tide of regulatory, governance and security concerns, a paucity of talent experienced in large-scale transformation, and boardroom concerns over the real business impact can make cloud migration feel like a journey towards shark-infested waters.
Despite these challenges, 2019 will be the year in which the UK’s largest enterprises get serious about moving production workloads to the cloud and transforming their business. But will these journeys be plain sailing or will they be punctuated by periods of turbulence?
Here’s my long-range forecast.
Enterprise cloud spending will soar
Large enterprises will finally bite the bullet and fully mobilise cloud adoption to boost agility and compete more effectively against born in the cloud challengers. As the incumbents gain more confidence with cloud technology, we will see transactional systems and key databases, as well as inventory, eCommerce, and operations apps all start to get the cloud treatment, leading to a bumper year for cloud vendors.
But enterprises will need to keep a close eye on costs to prevent them spiralling out of control. Cost optimisation will continue to be a focus as enterprises ensure their commercial structure and cost base are fully aligned ahead of a broader drive to the cloud. Once there, they will need to ensure they have the right controls and mechanisms in place to ensure they don’t experience cloud shock when the bill arrives.
Enterprises with immature cloud operating models will get bitten
Enterprises that made the leap to the cloud prematurely without putting in place the right operating model and a strategic architecture and plan are likely to experience runaway costs, security breaches and application availability issues. Perhaps the Gartner Hype Cycle for Public Cloud is now nearing the ‘trough of disillusionment’. Without the right people, process and technology in place, it is not uncommon for the cloud adoption journey to stall as organisations attempt to migrate more complex workloads and sensitive data.
A move to the cloud requires an enterprise-wide mindshift that is easy to underestimate. Our experience shows that technology accounts for only about 20% of a transformation effort, with cultural and operational change accounting for a whopping 80% or thereabouts. You can spend all the money in the world but until you persuade people to think differently and collaborate in new ways, that investment risks being wasted. Of particular importance will be how organisations attract, train and retain talent to support their transformation ambitions; the use of cloud services partners will feature prominently through this journey.
Finding talent will get tougher
Demand for data scientists, cloud architects and enterprise-capable cloud experts will increase against a backdrop of a restricted talent pool. This will limit the velocity of adoption and transformation to those organisations that can attract and retain talent.
ML + AI will open up endless possibilities for digital transformation
Competition from fintech entrants, coupled with an increased customer expectation for a more personalised experience, will drive large enterprises to leverage more sophisticated analytics accessible via cloud-hosted AI & ML capabilities. These incumbents, who have years’ worth of data, will look to consolidate, distil and leverage this data to leapfrog the competition with a more enhanced customer experience and through monetising the rich information which will be unlocked.
Enterprise multi-cloud will become the norm
At the same time that cloud providers’ capabilities are converging, differentiators are emerging that make multi-cloud the de facto option for large enterprises. A multi-cloud strategy also mitigates the potential for vendor lock-in and helps address regulatory concerns around exit planning and concentration risk. Watch out, though, for the additional complexity that comes with managing multiple vendors from a commercial and operational standpoint. While there is a need to standardise cloud on-boarding, controls and the request process in a multi-cloud scenario, each provider will have a different stack and tools – having the right strategy in place will help ensure reduced friction in getting the best from this complex landscape.
In summary, 2019 will be a transformative year for enterprise cloud. Certainly the technology landscape is moving ever faster, making it a confusing time for buyers preparing to make the leap to boost agility and ultimately revenues. But the good news is that, with the appropriate levels of planning and a trusted team of transformation experts to guide you, the outlook is definitely cloudy.
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