Human capital – the beating heart of Cloud transformation success


Written by Abby Eaton, Director/Co-founder Aitemology®

Why would you spend years and millions on moving away from fixed servers only to leave fixed mindsets and practices in place? “Being human in the digital world is about building a digital world for humans,” states Andrew Keen, renowned challenger of technology, entrepreneur and author. This was true before Covid-19 brought the world to its knees but even more so now as we climb out of the abyss. The pandemic has created a new paradigm for how global industry and populations can, and more notably want to work.

We’re living in a virtual world of convenience and working from home, which ironically matches an employer’s need for productivity and output with an individual’s need for a better work/life balance,” says Mandip Bharj, co-founder of Aitemology®, creators of the Cloud Playbook. “Even our own people are looking for something very different than a year ago,” agrees fellow co-founder Luke Pilfold-Thomas. “They’re more interested in core hours, not 9-5 and what flexible work arrangements we can offer.”

As a result, the need for Cloud computing and the enabling technology has never been greater. Many organisations have already taken the stratospheric leap to Cloud, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but always with an inevitable degree of operational and financial discomfort.

The technical wizardry behind Cloud transformation is binary and tangible; its success hinged on a clear strategy and the capabilities of those entrusted to deliver it. The human elements such as change management and governance are typically seen as an overhead but overall programme success absolutely lies in an understanding of their indispensable value and a willingness to embrace them.

Organisations must adapt to the new world by instilling a culture of change and continuous improvement where problems no longer drift. The upside is huge; greater efficiency, reduced costs and general levels of frustration, and you’ll be in a healthier position when the next round of change inevitably kicks in. “Change has to become part of your DNA; enlist change agents throughout the business to push the message from top down and bottom up,” says Bharj.

Alongside change management, successful programme delivery and transition to BAU and beyond will be determined by other critical non-technical factors such as a robust sourcing strategy, thorough contract review and of course people capability. A move to Cloud inevitably means a change in your IT operating model and new operational requirements demand different skills.

Mike Kern, VP Global Application Engineering at Kantar Profiles agrees: “Technical teams will spend less time on solving more traditional technical issues and more on solving application and business process reliability challenges. They will need to evolve to meet this change, but it means real business problems will be solved in shorter timeframes with more focus.”

It’s never too early to do a skills health check,” says Abby Eaton, the third co-founder at Aitemology®. “Don’t assume your old-world IT and BAU teams are still fit for new-world purpose. Taking a look at your talent shouldn’t be scary or expensive; it will be a positive experience for everyone if you approach it as a personal development opportunity. You’ll only need to go to market to fill your knowledge gaps if there’s no in-house solution.”

But even BBC Business writers have recently highlighted a national digital skills shortage. As a not-for-profit organisation uniting employers and universities to improve the flow of digital talent, TechSkills (part of techUK) has the ambition and remit to address the problem at graduate level. Pilfold-Thomas sits as an Employer Board member alongside MD Tom Lovell who reflects: “As a result of pervasive technology we are seeing a greater focus on data science and product, so organisations are looking for people who can cut across skillsets. Whilst they will need the change/people/delivery basics they will also know how to translate technical requirements into end-user impacts and business objectives. We work with our partners to ensure the curriculum stays relevant and develops skillsets that are in demand.”

Eaton concludes: “We’ve already done the routine hard yards for a transformation programme and put them into our simple Playbook to help organisations get from nowhere to Cloud air with as little pain and risk as possible. But Cloud is a Forth road bridge project that will always need ongoing attention, and it’s human capital that drives innovation and success. In challenging times retrain and maintain the best change champions you can. Barack Obama summed it up perfectly for me: ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’”

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