This is part 4 of a 5-part series on best practices for enterprise cloud migration. Released weekly from the end of April to the end of May 2021, each article will cover a new phase of a business’s transition to the cloud, what to be on the lookout for, and how to ensure the journey is a success.
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Adopt a Cloud-First Mindset
Why should you adopt a cloud-first mindset? As you start on your cloud migration goals, it’s going to be key to repeatedly come back to the fundamentals as people lose focus or enthusiasm. We’re talking about the phenomenon known as the “trough of sorrow” where a dip in initiative and output occurs, usually when novelty wears off and learning becomes harder.
To be prepared, it’s important to refer back to your fundamental goals. The new mentality at your organization will consist of the following key understandings, which will eventually become part of the healthy baseline culture:
- Being aware of cloud tools and services — this is the what in terms of the cloud: understanding the landscape, the providers, and the language so you can have a conversation with stakeholders, vendors, and consultants.
- Being able to use cloud services effectively, economically, and safely — this is the how, part 1: Safety and economy first. You don’t want to cause any more problems or spend budget unwisely.
- Understanding how to apply cloud tools to solve customer problems — this is the how, part 2: The other side of being able to use cloud tools safely is being able to apply them to real-world problem-solving.
- Being able to use your cloud services together to create new products and solutions — this is the why: This piggybacks on the previous point…whether it’s a service or a product, you’re going to want to take advantage of the opportunity to make something new first in the market.
Getting through these steps is a cycle, an ongoing process. As mentioned at the beginning, one part of the journey that always happens as a large group progresses on a big change is the “trough of sorrow.”
There are always going to be peaks and valleys in your progress, and the faster you can get back to your goals, the better — so how do you do that? There are a few ways to build back momentum.
Our practitioners and instructors at Cloud Academy have had lots of opportunities to interact with enterprises at various parts of their cloud transition. What we’ve seen in other engagements is that internally commenced certification campaigns can provide personal motivation to individual team members. These cert campaigns help team members commit to gaining new domain knowledge.
Further, when leaders can incentivize people to get core certifications for a desired specialty — i.e., AI certifications on Azure in order to develop solutions — this helps the employees’ own professional development while at the same time putting the overall team in a strong position to tackle new product initiatives.
Product teams brought up to speed
Remember that it’s not just IT and engineering that needs to be educated and fluent in cloud. For your team to gain maximum benefit from the full offering of cloud technologies, you’ll need all product-oriented roles to be aware of how cloud-based services such as artificial intelligence tools and services can be applied to solve business issues. As a starting point, evaluate areas where you may be struggling with data. Can a turnkey AI solution help here? If not, what types of changes would need to take place in order to leverage some of the positives of a managed service (and later down the road, a custom-built service)?
Unsure of some of your staff’s levels? Get back to basics
We’re going to continue beating the drum on this, but it’s helpful: you will need to assess your entire team’s skill levels, and continually monitor as time goes on. This sounds like a lot of work, which is why a programmatic approach that can scale with your organization is the ideal way to keep learning momentum moving across the board.
Just make sure that the learnings are outcome-oriented: whether it’s certifications, specific job roles, or specific technical tasks, the learning paths that your employees take should have a clear goal.
The last challenge: working together
Once you take all these steps you’ll get back on track, and all teams will become aware of how to solve business issues. But let’s be honest: there will always be the challenge of getting people to work together.
To put it bluntly, the big challenge is how do we get people in cross-functional teams to work together with all these new services and practices?
The answer is to run practical exercises. These need to be cross-functional projects that are engaging, quick to start, and quick to yield results.
Engagement + Collaboration = Progress
What would be a practical exercise and why would it help? Find a partner with domain expertise both in cloud and upskilling employees, and you’ll be able to get guidance to create blueprint-like exercises that can be applied to projects.
These blueprints can work across teams, with contributions across IT, Engineering, Product, and collaboration between all managers. Further, the bar for the learning experiences gets higher every year, with learners wanting the ability to have very little friction when learning (think about coding labs starting in 30 seconds vs. 3 hours of installing and troubleshooting software). It also makes more and more sense to learn together with coworkers, as opposed to the current single-player experience. This shows that the area of collaboration is set to be huge and will drive a better user experience and faster, more communal learning.
This type of engagement at the individual and communal level, with real-time tracking and modification of progress and goals, is going to be key to helping any team stay focused as they go through their cloud transformation. Understand that no matter the size of the organization, there will need to be attention paid to learners and managers as their attention naturally wavers. Having a concrete plan before addressing this makes it infinitely easier to address natural speed bumps and challenges as they occur in the learning and cloud migration process.
If you’d like a preview of what our blog series will cover in a more in-depth fashion, this guide is a great start. We share some best practices and insights gained from our experience helping many organizations on their journey to cloud success. Use it as a helpful reminder to stay on track.