The last 12-18 months has taught us many things. But, if there’s one thing we should all take away from the recent widespread disruption, it’s that resilience, agility and adaptability have become absolutely essential to business success. Whether a global pandemic, a natural disaster or a cyber-attack, today’s organizations must be able to rapidly respond to the unexpected.
To make things even more complicated, businesses must build in this operational agility while also facing the usual plethora of challenges – most notably increasing levels of competition and rapidly evolving marketplaces. This all requires a solid technology foundation that can empower organizations to pivot its strategies and tackle unforeseen situations. Enter: the cloud.
The continuing growth of cloud adoption shows that businesses are continuing to realize the power of the technology. According to Gartner, global cloud revenue will grow from $408 billion in 2021 to $474 billion in 2022, with 85% of organizations set to embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025. What’s more, over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud native platforms in 2025, illustrating how anything non-cloud will quickly be considered legacy.
At the turn of the new year, we thought now would be a good time to consider what it means to adopt a cloud-first mindset and what the cloud native enterprise will look like in 2022. Most importantly, why is becoming a cloud native enterprise essential to long-term business success?
What is cloud-native?
From a technology perspective, the silver lining of the pandemic is that it has accelerated cloud adoption and driven a faster conversion to cloud-centric operations. Even before COVID-19, we were entering an era where cloud adoption had matured to the point that the best practices to achieving high-level business transformations were generally well understood.
This conversation has reached a whole new level over the last 18 months. Organizations that weren’t already in the cloud had no choice but to embrace it as working practices were irreversibly changed, presenting significant opportunities for those organizations ready to realize the possibilities that the technology offers.
But being a cloud native enterprise isn’t just about rolling out various cloud platforms. It’s also about adopting the culture and ways of working that are connected to cloud. Most importantly, it’s about using the new rate of innovation and technical possibilities that cloud enables to drive fundamental business change.
The organizations that drive the most value from cloud will be the ones that understand it in the context of how it brings true business value. This means thinking beyond basic benefits such as cost optimization or speed to market, to implementing new processes and working in ways that non-cloud native competitors simply can’t match.
Practically speaking, they must connect the dots between traditional IT centric cloud adoption (which usually has a specific end goal) and business experimentation (often dismissively referred to as ‘shadow IT’). By aligning these two core adoption strategies and combining them with a leadership ambition to drive meaningful change, businesses will empower themselves to break through to new levels of performance.
So, how can enterprises progress on its journey to becoming cloud native in 2022 and beyond? First, organizations should focus on using cloud to lower the cost of failure and embrace the power of iterative trialing. Failure is how the most effective organizations learn and develop – but it can be costly. Luckily, cloud is adept at minimizing this cost. By resetting the idea of failure and leveraging cloud technologies to bring the cost of failure down to the absolute minimum, businesses can start establishing a culture that puts cloud experimentation at the core. Essentially, organizations can focus on doing, rather than analyzing.
This directly feeds into the software development lifecycle, which can be transformed with a cloud native approach. A cloud-first culture will empower software development teams to quickly deploy and scale apps to address business requirements, experiment without the risk of disrupting customer operations, and rapidly test new features.
From reducing operating costs to launching new products and services faster, this approach can deliver tangible business benefits. But it can also go beyond that by breaking down organizational silos and enabling large-scale automation – that’s the transformational next step that can be achieved by using the cloud to implement new ways of working.
Finally, CIOs must be prepared to drive cloud-first initiatives. As the one position that can bridge the gap between technology and business, the CIO has the potential to be the most important person on the executive team. Indeed, how well they do that – such as by driving cloud education and awareness outside of IT – will largely determine the relative success of their organization.
Ultimately, the importance of rapid change has become crystal clear over the last two years. Those organizations that embrace a cloud-first mindset will be the ones that achieve the resiliency, agility and innovation need to be successful in this new era of the cloud native enterprise. The rest will struggle to keep up.