You’ve spent time and money on transitioning your business to the cloud—but how do you continue to build momentum around continuous improvement?

In my previous posts, I explained why innovation is important and what it can do for financial services (FS) organizations. In this post, I’ll talk about how you can be innovative in your journey with the cloud.

All roads lead to the cloud

I say “with cloud”, because at this stage migration is inevitable and most organizations have already started a cloud journey somewhere, somehow. With cloud, future innovation is much easier because the heavy lifting of migration from on-premise solutions to the cloud is already done; therefore there is no need to build new platforms. The architecture of the cloud makes it easier to enhance existing and extend to build new applications—as opposed to traditional systems that took a long time to change and adapt.

Organizations which have become truly agile understand and welcome the fact that the solution they start to build is unlikely to be the end-state—it is simply the beginning and the foundation upon which to build. These organizations recognize that what they are aiming for today won’t necessarily be the same tomorrow. Hence, what is more important is to build the skills in the organization to be able to innovate and continue to evolve the solution. This way, organizations that truly embrace an agile way of working will be able to innovate at a greater pace and scale than their competitors.

How to be innovative in your journey with cloud

In the new world of work, there are still many things we’re figuring out as we go along. For example: You’ve invested time and money to migrate to the cloud, but do you improve and adapt continuously? Do you have a system that can manage constant change? Do you have a clear method to prioritize enhancements and innovation?

It’s in the nature of the agile way of working that when you start you may have one definition of perfection, but as time goes by this will change constantly. And that is okay. In fact it’s more than okay—it means you’re aware of the changes in the market!

Cloud is agile, and agility can alleviate risk. In my previous post, I spoke about what risk looks like today. An agile business can build prototypes quickly, get feedback, fail fast, and learn from its mistakes. It’s true that smaller businesses fail better; with big organizations it’s hard to move the ship. However, big organizations still must find ways to move, finding ways to accelerate the move.

To keep up, stay competitive and reap the most benefits from your chosen cloud solution you need to keep refining, prioritizing and addressing the latest and greatest.

Innovation with cloud: it’s all about the data

The right cloud strategy unlocks innovation and creates limitless possibilities. However, you need to keep going back to the basics of how you manage your data. When you move your business to the cloud, you invest a lot to clean the data and to get it into the system. But the work doesn’t stop there, it just begins.

You need to be meticulous in keeping data clean and up to date. This supports laws and regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and it also drives analytics. I cannot over-emphasize the power of analytics—accurate data is vital to making business decisions, otherwise you risk basing them on an inaccurate picture. This is particularly true in HR, as we look to the future workforce and the desire to identify the future skills and competencies of the organization and where the gap may lie in terms of reskilling. This is next to impossible to do with dirty or incomplete data—so clean it, keep it clean and use it!

In 2016, 95 percent of participants in our Journey to Cloud survey said they had a five-year strategy for cloud adoption, yet only 35 percent had taken steps to integrate cloud and business strategies. When businesses started the journey to cloud, leaders were enthused but struggled to get the workforce ready for the transition.

What is the key to successful cloud migration?

Successful cloud migration consists of three steps:

  1. Plan: define your journey to the cloud and prepare a strategy, assessment and roadmap that align with your unique needs.
  2. Move: modernize your applications, new operating model and culture with Accenture’s tools and processes.
  3. Manage: maximize the value you get from your cloud investments by using Accenture’s cloud management platform and tools that provide cost control, governance and accountability.

Enabling your organization to be in the cloud requires continuous learning and improvement. This is where HR’s role is vital. As I said in my second post, HR sets the tone of the organization, and can encourage the workforce to be more bold and creative. When you reassess your cloud solution, ask the following questions:

  1. How can you build a culture which recognizes the criticality to innovate continually people/process/technologies in such a way that it becomes business-as-usual, part of ‘keeping the lights on’?
  2. How do you navigate reskilling your team from the old world to the new world? Remember that having a smaller IT team doesn’t necessarily mean lower investments, rather investing in different, strategic ways.
  3. When you have hundreds of requests coming in from all areas of the business, how do you prioritize the enhancements and innovations to get the most meaningful and impactful changes through the funnel?
  4. How do you secure the budget you need? Building a truly agile organization requires a shift in mindset—one that is enabled with appropriate budgets for (1) continuous learning, (2) design thinking and other innovation sessions, and (3) technical changes. How do you keep your system lean and innovative?

To conclude, the journey with cloud once you’ve migrated is never complete—but if you can maintain momentum and find innovative ways to make it work for you, the benefits will be legion.

For more information, read our Journey to Cloud report and additional resources on cloud migration. To find out more about digital HR in FS or to join us at the Change Directors Forum and People Innovation Forum in London, please contact me here or on Twitter @knott_nic.

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