Written by: Koen van Schijndel
There’s a reason the word “Cloud” causes confusion. It is a product and a technology, but also a mentality. The first two are files for the IT department. IT managers and their team are getting to work with the cloud product in the form of a platform and deploying cloud technology to develop, test and manage applications faster. But that cloud mentality is a matter for the entire organisation. After all, the cloud only really works to your advantage if people get everything out of it. Sounds logical. But providing an entire company with a new mindset is practically impossible. However, what you can do is prepare management for their new role. If they support their teams with time, budget and direction, that cloud mentality is the logical consequence. Here’s the four things you need to know:
1. All eyes on IT
On paper, Cloud can bring a lot to your organisation. It will become easier to experiment with new applications, to scale up and down quickly and to adapt services to customer demand. Cloud-related technologies such as IoT and AI make it easy to collect and analyse large amounts of data and use the insights directly to improve processes and services. Sometimes they are even used to create completely new business models! Together, this brings enormous flexibility and innovative power… if there is communication between the IT department and other disciplines. This alignment is a new task for managers. They must ensure that the IT department moves towards the business. They do this, for example, by having the IT manager join strategic sessions. In some organisations, a new position is even created. Think of the CDO (Chief Digital Officer).
2. Less micro-managing
IIn the pre-cloud era, managers made sure teams met their deadlines so applications could go live. In the cloud era, this responsibility lies with the DevOps teams. Applications are continuously improved and adapted without direct control from above. This makes development cycles shorter and teams more flexible. Because there is constant testing, new insights are created on the assembly line and bugs are fixed in no time. DevOps teams also often communicate with the customer themselves, to prevent noise on the line. This working method takes some getting used to for managers: they change from manager to supporter. It is their task to constantly monitor and test the quality of services and products on the basis of collected customer data. Based on these findings, they must manage their teams in such a way that quality improvement never stops. In practice, this means instead of micro-managing, you look for more efficient ways to stay informed and make adjustments.
3. More focus on training, less on hierarchy
The cloud can deliver great results, but it’s only as good as the people who execute the plans. As the cloud changes how employees work, managers must invest time (and budget) in training their teams. Think of hard skills such as learning to work cloud-native, but also soft skills such as functioning in multidisciplinary teams. This is especially useful if you choose to work with the previously discussed DevOps teams. In these teams, IT people take care of all aspects of application development: writing code, testing, launching, improving and monitoring so that the applications remain operational. This mix of skills in one team also means that the hierarchy has to be tinkered with. Young, cloud-native developers will be able to teach the senior developers a lot, while senior developers have more experience with your legacy systems and know the application landscape much better.
4. Taking responsibility together – but really
The cloud helps you to digitise and transform your processes and business models. But with this you change the dependencies between different departments. Traffic flows are different after a cloud migration and people have to coordinate more with each other (see point 1). People with different disciplines are suddenly jointly responsible for the end result. This is already quite normal within DevOps teams, but the responsibility is also being redistributed organisation-wide. For example, data scientists must share their newly acquired insights with product developers in a clear way, so that they can implement improvements. In turn, product developers must implement this feedback in such a way that customers actually notice an improvement, which in turn is measured by the data scientists. It is the task of managers to ensure that this communication runs smoothly and that everyone contributes in the right way.
Want to learn more?
The arrival of the cloud changes quite a bit for management. IT is given a more central place in the organisation, the dependence between departments is growing and (DevOps) teams are getting more freedom and responsibility. Managers would do well to reveal themselves as enablers of the cloud transition. They do this by delegating more tasks, micro-managing less and ensuring that teams and individual members receive sufficient time, budget and training to handle the cloud era.
Do you want to know more about the influence of Cloud on business and IT, and could you also use some help with your cloud strategy?