Like so much else, the pandemic has changed leadership attitudes to embracing the cloud. Cloud migration is now a top business priority for 44% of business and tech leaders canvassed in Tech Monitor’s Technology Leaders Agenda 2021. The global survey of 611 senior technology executives covers leadership priorities across the technology function and makes clear that the cloud is now a central strategic pillar for ambitious businesses everywhere.
“Adopting the cloud is no longer simply an option for the enterprise,” says Srinivasan Panchapakesan, EVP and head of Amaze platform engineering at report partner Hexaware. “Every enterprise – whether they get there today or tomorrow – is going to be there as a matter of fact.”
The findings of the Technology Leaders Agenda 2021 suggest most senior tech execs recognise that direction of travel. Beyond that 44% figure, for instance, those surveyed also report that cloud technology is one of the fastest-growing spend areas. Data, which more than likely encompasses cloud investment, comes in at the top.
If cloud as a concept increasingly looms over boardrooms and executive suites, the way executives understand it is shifting too. Instead of thinking purely in terms of infrastructure and storage, Panchapakesan explains that tech leaders are beginning to reflect on what adoption means for their business as a whole. As he puts it: “Migration isn’t going to be helpful unless enterprises adopt infrastructure in their application ecosystems to derive value.”
The Technology Leaders Agenda reflects this change. As the report notes, improving operational efficiency, as well as boosting technology and business alignment, are the two most pressing strategic technology objectives for enterprises, cited by 76% and 60% of respondents respectively. Panchapakesan, meanwhile, is in no doubt about the role of Covid-19 in accelerating these trends. “The pandemic has helped with adoption – we’re a decade ahead of what it would have otherwise taken.”
From machine learning APIs to real-time analytics, abandoning physical servers and leveraging the scalability of cloud is clearly about more than just storing information. Panchapakesan suggests that the pandemic has helped cloud migration go from a “support function” to “a core function” in promoting business enterprise. That’s true; he adds, everywhere from security to applications to data.
Design, vision, strategy
Even so, the path from cloud migration in theory to hitting KPIs in practice is far from straightforward. “It all depends on how you use it, how you deploy it, how you configure it, how you architect it, how your application consumes those services,” Panchapakesan continues. “Being in the cloud, living in the cloud, optimising it to ensure the best outcome – that requires a good understanding of architectural space, as well as your business design, vision and strategy.”
A successful migration requires robust planning, internal alignment and shared performance baselines. One problem, however, is that access to talent within this space is limited. The Technology Leaders Agenda found that cloud specialists are the second most in-demand group of technology workers, and the most difficult to recruit.
“Facilitating consumers to do cloud adoption in a much better way – we believe our skillset is going to be highly in demand,” says Panchapakesan, reflecting on the growing value of partnerships. “Consulting, partnerships, solutioning, architecting and technical depth of expertise are increasingly important today in helping enterprises overcome the challenges of exponential growth in technology.”
In a similar vein, Panchapakesan wonders if tech leaders themselves have a role to play here, acting as boardroom evangelists for the power of the cloud. Their role, he emphasises, isn’t necessarily to educate CEOs about the technicalities of AWS deployment. Rather, it’s to explain the straightforward business benefits of cloud migration, whether for revenue growth, operational efficiency, company profits or customer satisfaction.
Panchapakesan, for his part, expects IT investments to rise, with the technology function emerging from the pandemic with its reputation significantly enhanced.
“Expectations are rising,” he says, “but that’s not a bad thing. More people are becoming aware of the possibilities.”