Three months ago, I landed in Dublin fresh off a 26 hour flight from ‘Straya (Australia for the uninitiated). Having spent 20 years of my career in the APAC region – renowned for being early and rapid adopters of new technologies, “cloud-first” was a ubiquitous term. Enterprise was racing to cloud, SME’s were witnessing the benefits and even the Federal Government issued a cloud-first mandate in October 2014, wherein it became mandatory for non-corporate government entities to adopt cloud where it is fit for purpose, provides adequate protection of data and delivers value for money – essentially a “convince me why not cloud” approach.
Naturally, being a little sheltered down there in APAC, I assumed this is just the norm on a global basis, isn’t it? Given my newfound status as an Irish Resident, I set about understanding the local landscape. After undertaking preliminary research through Gartner, Ovum, Forrester, Microsoft and Dr Google, I was surprised to ascertain that EMEA is in fact behind the global curve on cloud adoption, particularly in Public IaaS – a market tipped to grow globally from $38B (USD) today to $173B by 2026. This statistic supports the argument that EMEA is behind the curve, however it is set to make up for it in a big way. Is this a sign of a maturing in the cloud market?
I’m fortunate that in my role I get to talk to a great cross-section of the marketplace; organisations of all shapes and sizes, Government, public and private. Whilst I work in the technology sector, many of my conversations are with business stakeholders outside of IT – again broadening the viewpoint.
Much to my surprise, I find that a key barrier to adoption locally is not based on the traditional perceived “showstoppers” of cost, security and complexity, rather it often stems from a misaligned (or non-existent) strategy.
Many are starting their planning at the how; how am I going to do this, where is the budget coming from, will my team still be able to support us in the cloud? With the ensuing answer being that there is difficulty justifying a change from the status quo and hence, missing out on the tremendous benefits available. In my view, this is entirely the wrong approach. Without giving due consideration to key drivers such as; where do I want my business to grow? will this produce a better experience for my customers? what new opportunities will it enable? – the “why”, how can we possibly make the right choice to cloud or not to cloud, let alone which cloud – public, private, hybrid?
There’s a brilliant TED Talk from Simon Sinek “Start with Why.” In it, Simon talks about the traditional thought process that starts with what, then how, then why. He goes on to flip that on its’ head & explain the incredible importance of starting with why. Yes, his talk is more in the context of marketing, but hey, I.T. is there to underpin a business, to enable it, not to be the business (unless of course you’re in my industry!) so when we’re looking to technology to solve a business challenge, shouldn’t we start with why?