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The Business of IT

Not workloads – impact.

Before you ask yourself “what can and can’t I do in the cloud,” stop to consider the larger picture. How will your customers know that you have adopted cloud computing? What resulting radical improvement will delight your customers? These questions help you focus on the impact you want to achieve with your initiative. The answers help you understand the facets that you’ll need to address – technology, skills, procedures, and behaviors – in order to achieve and measure that impact. Then you’ll be ready to talk nuts and bolts about vendors, tools, and cloud-appropriate workloads.

For example, my client, CIO of a media company, was enthusiastic about using cloud computing and wanted to get right down to details: what should he move into the cloud, how long would it take, who could help, and so on. After walking through the questions mentioned above we made several important discoveries:

  • External customers wanted a streamlined billing process.
  • Internal customers wanted to eliminate boring, error-prone manual work.
  • Neither group of customers cared what technology was used.
  • He didn’t know the effects of the current billing process on satisfaction, retention, and revenue.

It was clear that the project was more properly regarded as a customer retention initiative, not as a technology adoption effort. As a result, the CIO immediately knew what he had to do: measure the effects of billing on customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue; and he needed to recast the cloud computing adoption program as a program to substantially improve customer satisfaction. These guidelines provided the business context within which his staff was able to make intelligent, focused decisions about implementation details.

Next time you find yourself asking about what workloads to move to the cloud, think about the only thing that matters: what will delight customers?

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