In April 2015, InsightaaS teamed with stakeholders from across the cloud community – enterprise and SMB IT management, global IT leaders and Canadian cloud service providers, integrators and consultants, academics, associations, training firms and other experts – to launch the Toronto Cloud Business Coalition. Dedicated to accelerating adoption and use of cloud in Canada, TCBC members formed working groups to identify key business issues and best practices addressing the ten most important cloud challenges.
After six months of discussion and review, TCBC’s working groups have begun publishing unique documents that provide essential guidance for senior C-suite executives, IT leaders, cloud practitioners and supply-side management. At the same time, TCBC is accelerating its ‘education and networking’ agenda by convening a series of events designed to stimulate discussion of best practices positions and requirements. The signature event on TCBC’s 2015 calendar was the inaugural Cloud Symposium, a ‘show within a show’ as part of DatacenterDynamics Converged Canada 2015 presentation. The event was a tremendous success, with more than 500 attendees and over 40 exhibitors. InsightaaS principals Mary Allen and Michael O’Neil moderated nine sessions at the event: the opening and closing plenaries, an entire track dedicated to working group topics, and sessions on IoT and analytics which combined expert panel perspectives with current InsightaaS research.
KeY issue and observations:
The keY issue: : Non-IT executives make business decisions – including decisions on business technology – based on an understanding of the business impact of the investment; all of these decisions are ‘dollar denominated’, predicated on how and to what extent the investment yields more revenue, less cost, better cash flow and/or improved profitability. Non-IT senior executives require three types of input on cloud. They need to understand models – to what extent will the cloud solution enable us to continue to work as we do today, or as we would prefer to operate tomorrow? They require metrics that demonstrate the value of the cloud solution in financial terms. And if the decision is made to proceed with cloud, they want to tie the cloud initiative to corporate imperatives that align with the strategic directions that are important to staff, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders.
AJ Byers, president, JEDTech Group: The executive’s primary job is to meet financial expectations – to hit revenue and EBITDA targets. Cloud technology is interesting to the executive because it supports pursuit of these goals. For example, the speed and agility that cloud delivers mitigates business risk. To position cloud for the executive, it’s important to show – using clear financial models that rely primarily on hard numbers – how cloud supports financial outcomes, and then to add considerations like reducing the risk of downtime that are important to reputation, but which aren’t easily quantified.
Bik Dutta, director, alliances and market development, CenturyLink: Cloud connects directly to executives’ need for competitiveness. Because cloud enables faster deployment and greater agility, it helps firms beat competitors to market, and to move quickly to address customer needs. It also supports the company’s brand position: for example, an enterprise that has adopted advanced cloud tools will have an advantage in recruiting talent over firms that are tied to legacy technology.
Brian Ochab, cloud practice lead, Unity Connected Solutions: Companies can realize tremendous benefits with cloud – speed to scale, the shift from CAPEX to OPEX – and senior executives play a key role in enabling this adoption. For example, procurement processes sometimes inhibit organizations from buying cloud services rather than physical systems. HR may not understand how to recruit new types of employees, like data scientists and security experts. And marketing may need encouragement to capitalize on the ‘fail fast’ ability of cloud by launching test programs quickly to market. Senior management can use cloud to align siloed operations, accelerating benefit realization.
Tracey Hutchison, director, partner sales, Cisco: All businesses have an “ideation to execution” cycle, in which they translate new ideas into new products and services – and all businesses benefit from accelerating that cycle, testing different approaches and bringing new offerings to market faster. Cloud helps to accelerate this process by providing a platform for collaboration. Effective use of cloud can improve competitiveness by reducing time to benefit – for new IT systems, and for ideas of all types that result in revenue-generating goods and services.
The bottom line
The cloud business models, metrics and imperatives session, and the other Cloud Symposium panel discussions and the accompanying best practices guidance represent a new standard in IT research delivery. With the community approach to content co-creation and an emphasis on networking and outreach, TCBC and InsightaaS have created a model that delivers real value to stakeholders from all industries, and is designed to provide real support to end user adopters – which aligns with TCBC's overall objective of accelerating adoption and use of cloud in Canada.