Your Journey to the Cloud; Assured - Good governance for digital transformation is the first stage for many mutable businesses

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Also posted on: The IM Blog

The irresistible rise of digital services in the cloud has stolen the headlines of late. Yet most enterprises still depend on IT systems which we now refer to as legacy. The well-informed Board is aware that their existing business models built on legacy IT infrastructure are under threat, and is alert to the operational advantages of the cloud.

Remaining competitive and relevant in this digital age is key. All too quickly, a nimbler, agile competitor will emerge with a disruptive business model built on innovative cloud technology. Doing nothing may not have an immediate and visible impact on the bottom line. The legacy IT systems that have served well will not reduce a business from prince to pauper overnight. But the well-informed Board has seen the writing on the wall.

So, change is in the air, what next? You have made the decision to go virtual and into the cloud. You have set out sound business initiatives driven by competitive pressures, improving business efficiency and driving cost reduction. How do you complete the journey?

Digital transformation is the responsibility of the Board

An obvious next step might be to assign the project to your CIO or CTO. This is a technical initiative after all? And surely these are the people in your organisation who understand technology? But first, consider digital transformation as the process of migrating your entire organisation to new ways of doing business. It is a step change in how your organisation thinks about itself within the wider digital world. The CIO and CTO are essential stakeholders, yet considering the journey as purely a technical initiative is the first of many potential pitfalls. Successful digital transformation requires leadership from the top. Those who have been most successful in the journey have considered it first and foremost a board level responsibility. Your CIO and CTO will drive the transformation of services and systems, but organisational transformation of shared values, business structure and skills are essential for success. The well-informed Board is an integral part of the journey.

Digital transformation is different for all. The challenge of security will undoubtedly arise at an early stage in the process. Yet security and privacy, although important, are only two concerns of many. The Board needs to be assured of answers to a broad range of technical, business and organisational concerns, including:

  • Do we have the right skills, people and structure?
  • How do we avoid the inevitable pitfalls?
  • How do we assess the areas of greatest potential?
  • How secure is our data?
  • How can we protect against cyber attacks?
  • Is our Intellectual Property protected?
  • Do we understand the latest technology?
  • Can our existing systems and services be migrated?

The answers will be different for each organisation. Organisations have different business models, skills, systems, offerings and structure. How then can an organisation plan their digital transformation journey and assure success?

Partnering for Success.

Undoubtedly, you will not have all the resources you need for Digital Transformation in-house – almost by definition, as you haven’t transformed yet. You will need mentoring from those that have made the journey. Particular issues that many of our clients have to deal with are described below.

Escaping Legacy

The emergence of the Cloud age over the past five years has brought the issue of legacy into sharp focus. Recent innovations include the explosion in connected devices and the emergence of innovative, usage-based pricing models. We are also seeing a transformation from service to customer focus in consumer-oriented industries such as banking and insurance. And of course, the maturing of cloud-based technology and services has enabled truly disruptive business models across all industries.

Research indicates that legacy now represents 40% to 50% of the total IT estate. The impact of legacy has built up a significant ‘technology debt’ that Boards are no longer able to ignore. Legacy affects the entire IT stack, from infrastructure through to data and applications. Legacy includes ageing infrastructure with imminent end of life plans, and monolithic core systems that impede business agility. There is also a decreasing pool of resources with the skills required to maintain IT legacy, and to support the transformation to new platforms.

Digital transformation includes the process of managing the ‘technology debt’, of gaining business agility and improving operational efficiency through the migration of legacy IT to cloud-based services and business models. This means infrastructure replacement, adoption of cloud-aware applications, and an overhaul of existing data management and ‘systems of record’ platforms.

Starting out on your Digital Transformation

Digital means a lot more than simply changes in way organisations undertake functions such as marketing and eCommerce. Organisations must embrace digital thinking. The Board, CIO and everyone in a leadership position, needs to be thinking about digital end to end across the business, or risk putting the adoption of new technologies and new business models in danger.

But the key question we are being asked is, what’s really important, and where do I start? Where is the greatest value to my organisation? What gives me the biggest bang for buck? How do I calculate a Return on Investment and build on my Business plan? Bloor with Agile Elephant offers management briefings, workshops and services to help organisations embrace and plan for digital transformation. Our Digital Diagnostic covers:

  • Understanding the Digital Wave. We explain the transformation that’s happening in terms of the underlying global and economic factors, combined with the confluence of social media, mobile, analytics, cloud computing and emerging technologies that are changing how business is done.  Change is now a constant.  You have to compete with yourself before someone else uses new technology in a smarter way to steal your market. In this disruptive environment what works, what doesn’t and what do you do next?
  • Where do you start?  How do you organise for this Digital Transformation? The problem is that every organisation is different, and at a different stage in transforming.  We’ve developed a diagnostic approach to help you look at digital transformation end to end across your organisation, and then prioritise for quick wins and to develop a manageable strategy. For example, the adoption of cloud and mobile technologies are key foundations to the digital shift. We cover the steps you should plan for and how this should fit in to your strategy.
  • Where is the greatest value for your organisation. Which of all these options gives your company the biggest bang for the buck, and how do you calculate a Return on Investment and build your Business plan?

As well as the issues around technology and business models, you will also need to cover what you need to plan for in terms of people, organisational structure, role of HR and attitudes and approaches to change within your organisation. Essentially, you need to understand the new building blocks and leadership required for the Transformation phase.

Assure success in the digital world

The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and Bloor Research, in association with Agile Elephant, leaders in digital transformation consultancy, have joined forces to develop an advisory and assurance programme for enterprises starting out on their transformation journey.

  • Our flagship Cloud Adoption Roadmap (CAR) is a comprehensive 21-Step directory of best practice services, ensuring expertise and education for each stage in the cloud transformation program. The CAR acknowledges that digital transformation is different for each organisation, and is structured to enable the most relevant services to be selected as needed. Each step is delivered through our advisory services, accompanied by e-Learning courses and access to an extensive resource library of cloud-related topics.
  • Master-Classes are interactive workshops to help senior executives understand the art of the possible. Led by our experts in digital cloud transformation, each Master-Class delivers guidance on the latest trends, how to avoid pitfalls, the best direction to take, and how to proceed at a pace appropriate for each organisation.
  • Our Digital Transformation Diagnostic audits a business’s state of readiness for digital transformation, and identifies those areas offering the greatest potential for generating business value. The methodology is built on McKinsey’s 7-S framework for organisational effectiveness, and analyses end-to-end value, from product innovation to customer service, and across all business lines, from operations to HR.
  • The Cloud Certification Programme assures that everyone involved in an organisation’s cloud transformation program has up to date and appropriate skills. Your CIF Certified Professionals will have attained a knowledge benchmark against industry good practice, with qualifications supported by a comprehensive e-Learning curriculum.
  • Access to our Resource Knowledge Hub, an extensive library of cloud-related resources, including e-Learning courses, white papers, best practice guides and webinars.

There is not a ‘one size fits all’ model

Our clients vary in their approach to digital transformation, the steps taken, and the pace of execution. We offer experience and knowledge to ensure that our clients are able to assure success based on current best practice, disruptive business models and the latest technology. Our clients engage with us in the confidence that we will craft the most appropriate program for their individual needs. A ‘typical’ client, should one exist, may follow a program as follows.

Many clients begin with one or more Master-Classes, where we help them understand how to remain competitive and relevant by harnessing the latest cloud trends and disruptive business models.Each Master-Class is an interactive workshop, led by our cloud experts, and run as a full day or half day as required. Master-Classes are intended for all members of the board, not just the CIO and CTO.
Our most successful clients perform a Digital Transformation Diagnostic at the outset, in order to identify the gaps, opportunities and business potential for cloud services.Our methodology is implemented as a program of advisory services, led by our cloud and digital transformation experts.
Begin the acquisition of relevant skills and knowledge early in the program through the Cloud Certification program.CIF Certified Professional status is attained through the successful completion of an e-Learning program, supported by our Resource Knowledge Hub.
Assure success at each stage of the journey through the Cloud Adoption Roadmap (CAR), a comprehensive model for digital transformation and cloud adoption.The CAR sets out 21 steps with supporting e-Learning courses covering the wide range of expertise required at each stage in the digital transformation journey.
Finally, maintain momentum and assure on-going success through our Cloud Assurance advisory service.We offer our unique and independent expertise throughout your journey, with advisory services aligned to your business requirements.

The State of Digital Transformation Today

The Cloud Industry Forum White Paper, Cloud and the Digital Imperative, analysed the ways in which businesses with UK operations are using Cloud services today, the drivers and inhibitors of Cloud adoption, and how Cloud computing is facilitating Digital Transformation across the IT estate. Conducted in 2015 by Vanson Bourne for the CIF, the research polled 250 senior IT and business decision-makers across enterprise and public sector organisations.

Key Findings:

  • Seven in ten UK organisations expect to have implemented a Digital Transformation strategy by the end of 2017.
  • Of those organisations using Cloud today, three quarters expect to increase their usage in 2016.
  • Six out of ten expect to migrate their entire IT estate to the Cloud.
  • Security, data security and data privacy were the primary reasons given for not wanting to migrate applications to the Cloud.
  • Four out of five respondents whose organisation has implemented a Digital Transformation strategy say that Cloud is important/very important to it.

About our Partnership.

The partnership between the Cloud Industry Forum, Bloor Research and Agile Elephant was forged to ensure that industry professionals have access to the latest information pertinent to Cloud computing and digital transformation. The 21-Step Cloud Adoption Roadmap (CAR) is the flagship program for our partnership, supported by our e-Learning and the independent certification program for cloud industry professionals. Together, we help our clients assure success in the digital age.

Bloor Research

Bloor was founded in 1989 around one principle: “To enable organisations to choose the optimal technology solutions for their needs”. Bloor has grown to become one of Europe’s leading independent IT research, analysis and consultancy firms.

Cloud Industry Forum (CIF)

The CIF is a not for profit company, an industry body that champions and advocates the adoption and use of Cloud-based services by businesses and individuals. The CIF was established in 2009 to provide transparency through certification to a Code of Practice for credible online Cloud service providers and to assist end users in determining core information necessary to enable them to adopt these services.

Agile Elephant

Agile Elephant helps companies embrace the new digital culture of collaboration, communication and greater use of technology. Agile Elephant focuses on practical business needs that add real value to the bottom line, combining decades of experience in business, technology and emerging trends, and helping businesses understand what works, what doesn’t and where to head next on the digital transformation journey.

How to contact us

If you would like to know more about digital transformation, are seeking to assure success for your digital transformation journey, or simply want to understand the benefits of our independent cloud certification program, please email us at or contact us directly through