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Why cloud integration starts with your customers Rob Duffy, Global Head of Solution Development, Cloudreach.  

Cloud adoption has increased massively since the pandemic started, with around 67% of businesses operating their enterprise infrastructure on the cloud. As cloud technology is an ever evolving landscape, it’s important customers are accompanied on their cloud “journey” to ensure seamless adoption. Crucially, there can be no disconnect between the goals of the business, the company culture, established pain points and the IT department.

Have a clear understanding of the destination

Around 30% of all IT budgets are currently being dedicated to cloud computing. As you, your organisation and clients dive into the cloud journey, it’s important to consider the reasons that inspire most businesses to choose to migrate – these are what will outline the end goal (or goals) for embarking on this journey in the first place. Having the right alignment can ensure a clearer destination in your cloud journey and a better understanding of how to get there.

For most, cloud migration is driven by the need to cut technological costs, but that is only a part of the story. Be sure to highlight the additional benefits cloud migration can help ease aside from finances to your customers. For example, customer retention and onboarding can be eased through cloud technology, it can eliminate redundant technology at scale, increase efficiency and more.

Have a dynamic discussion with your customers that asks the right questions so you can determine which other benefits would align with your customers’ goals and how you can help them innovate as cloud technology evolves. Conversations like these ensure that clients understand the bigger picture and understand how the cloud journey will benefit their business, not just your organisation.

Be realistic about your journey (and the pitfalls)

A major part of the cloud journey involves being realistic about your capabilities. As companies start on their cloud journey, they aren’t always honest with themselves, which can lead to slower results than previously anticipated and ultimately lead to friction with customers. Think about the maturity of your company and be honest about what you can and can’t do. This is crucial for determining whether your customers’ goals are feasible with where you want your cloud journey to take you.

There are so many paths to cloud adoption that the sheer number of options can be overwhelming and paralyzing – especially when analysing what a perfect cloud implementation could look like. It is important to be realistic about how much change your organisation can withstand at once and to try and keep your program simple, since it’s tempting to try to incorporate every cloud service and modernisation tool all at once. Instead, you should plan for these improvements incrementally over time and with the benefit of hindsight. By phasing in change and modernisation over time, you have the ability to learn what is the right cloud program to generate the most value for your business, the market and your customers.

This reflection can better prepare you for some of the most common challenges cloud professionals face when going on this cloud journey, including time and money, capability gaps and building alignment. Thinking about the challenges can also ensure that your journey not only gels with customers but also with your people, organszation, compliance and more.

This conversation also ensures that customers feel like you are communicating thoroughly as you both go along this journey – opening up about challenges allows for transparency and can educate them on the ins and outs of the cloud and have them thinking through the constraints they may have in their own journey.

Frameworks can help you prep ahead

For your journey to stay on track and meet the needs of both you and your customers, there needs to be a framework that highlights the guiding principles for how the system should be in place. Make sure to account for things like clearly defined thresholds in line with the customer’s cost model, clear expectations for compliance, etc.

Most importantly, this framework also needs to account for revision cycles. Remember, customers don’t understand the technical aspects of cloud migration – part of having them along for your journey stems from anticipating their needs. You can educate them as much as you can (and you should!), but at the end of the day they will be more focused on the outcome. This means that if revisions take time or don’t go well, they can derail the entire migration process costing time and money.

This framework also goes hand in hand with understanding your limitations and anticipating obstacles. Through this framework you can continue to communicate with customers throughout your cloud journey in an informed way, sharing where you are in the process and how this progress can impact their business needs.

The cloud journey is an important step in any business. By engaging with your customers from day one you will gain a better understanding of the destination, acknowledge the challenges and establish a framework. In turn,  you will not only innovate but will also account for your customers’ goals every step of the way.

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2020