A year ago, the global pandemic delivered an unexpected disruption. Overnight, organizations scrambled to support a completely remote workforce and develop even safer operations while continuing to improve the customer experience.

The global pandemic continues to impact our world in so many ways. But it has also served as a catalyst for technological change—a forcing function that is accelerating cloud migration.

Today’s corporate strategies run on technology

Every company wants to create better products or services, differentiate offerings, price strategically, grab more market share, retain customers, and grow in a sustainable manner. At the heart of these strategies is an unavoidable truth: every business function must find ways to enable employees to execute more effectively and efficiently. 

Improving productivity isn’t a new concept. What is a new concept is allowing an organization’s tech strategy to enable that change. This reality points to why 40% of CEOs now state that their CIO or tech leader will be the key driver of corporate business strategy.1

That makes perfect sense when you think about the problems that a technology-driven approach can address around everything from employee enablement, growth, and customer success to compliance, operations, and sales.

Let’s start with employee enablement. By automating daily processes, employees have faster, easier, and more seamless ways in which to do their work, which boosts productivity and improves the probability of success. That’s why I recommend every business unit partner with IT to build out 12- to 18-month roadmaps. The goal is to lay out what technology investments should be made, when to integrate them, what tech to retire, and what plans to put in place for managing the local and global impacts of adding and removing technology. 

For growth-oriented businesses, consider how technology drives the processes for entering new markets and monetizing new revenue paths. Without aligning your tech and growth strategies, there may not be any growth in your strategy. Establish the systems and interactions to acquire customers in new markets and automate things such as currency and localization. 

The same holds true for development. Engineering and product teams are much more likely to deliver delightful customer experiences if they work with IT and release internally to “customer zero.” By deploying and using your own technology, product, or service internally, your employees can provide direct feedback and insights that will significantly benefit your customers.

A technology-driven approach also helps drive compliance. For example, many organizations experience a rush to book new business in the last month of a quarter. Without highly automated systems that can manage this onslaught of activity, companies may be unable to book deals and therefore miss quarterly targets.

Consider as well your sales teams. With the right tech strategy, you can easily collect internal data, unify it, and enrich it with third-party industry data to deliver targeted account scoring so a salesperson knows exactly which opportunities to pursue. Cloud technology powers the fairly automated analysis of market data and customer information, enabling sales to be more effective. 

Hundreds more opportunities such as these exist across an organization. They demonstrate how internal forces, market dynamics, and extraneous events such as a pandemic can be managed through the innovation, efficiencies, and disruptive insights that cloud technology delivers. 

The power of cloud

Six key areas demonstrate why cloud is the only platform that can deliver the speed and agility that today’s organizations need to scale in a graceful manner, especially during a crisis.

  1. Collaboration: Workforces based in remote locations and different time zones need real-time access to data, tools, and each other. Technology choices directly affect how employees collaborate, which impacts your corporate strategy. The two are intrinsically linked. Cloud technology becomes foundational for seamless collaboration and communication within and across teams. Additionally, employees need to access, analyze, and act on real-time data and insights. Cloud speeds up data processes to help drive business decisions and ensure outcomes, including timely and relevant customer experiences.
  2. Scalability: To deliver a better employee and customer experience, scalability is key. Any company that wants to thrive and grow should move workloads to the cloud. A cloud environment, which includes cloud applications and a cloud data platform, can provide the near-unlimited scalability needed for growth. Rather than dealing with capacity management, which is all about limitations, the focus shifts to managing consumption, which speaks to adoption and usage.
  3. Reliability and Availability: Cloud removes the operational tasks and deployment issues associated with on-premises environments. Fully-managed cloud solutions don’t experience the same downtime that on-premises solutions do, nor do they require IT and security professionals to maintain them and bring systems back up when they go down. High availability and zero disruption are table stakes with cloud and SaaS-based environments, which have reliability and availability built in to their solutions.
  4. Transformational: A pure cloud environment empowers IT and infrastructure teams to transition from operational tasks to transformational tasks. In my view, IT professionals can spend in excess of 50-60% of their time on maintenance tasks for on-premises systems. With cloud, their focus can shift to transformational tasks that help drive business goals around growth, scalability, profitability, and automation. 
  5. Speed: Whether attempting to onboard new employees, automate business processes, or enter new markets, these types of initiatives are challenging to execute when working in an on-premises environment. Because IT professionals must develop these capabilities, the development lifecycle is extensive and prolonged, especially when everyone is working remotely. Speed matters, and the pandemic has illustrated why we need to do things in a faster and more agile way, without waste. A cloud-native, SaaS-based environment allows fast and agile deployment, regardless of location, which inherently creates scalability. 
  6. Metrics: IT organizations usually measure success through five key metrics: cost, quality, speed, employee experience, and availability. Cloud solutions and SaaS products provide an easy and automated way to measure all five elements at any time, thanks to real-time availability of this information. 

Sharing best practices is the best strategy

Technology choices are much more complex these days. Every decision matters when you’re building an environment that can deliver speed, agility, scalability, and automation. 

While each organization is unique, the best way to develop a technology plan is by learning from other CIOs, CDOs, and executives. Talk with partners, customers, industry leaders, and even competitors. Take heed of their advice and share what you’ve learned. 

No one knows what crisis will hit next. But your goal should be to shift from owning the best technology to using the technology you own in the best ways possible. With your tech strategy as the corporate strategy, you can focus on automating business processes and unleashing the true power of your data. In the end, you’ll get the business insights and results that will drive your organization forward so you can manage whatever comes your way.

In Sunny’s next post, he provides insight on how to best choose technology partners and the benefits of choosing SaaS providers that “drink their own champagne”.

1 Khalid Kark et al., “Survey: CIOs are CEOs’ top strategic partner,” Deloitte CIO Journal on the Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2020