Going Cloud First: Not As Hard As You Think

Who wants to own stuff? Things tend to pile up and carry an overhead of storage space and maintenance. Think about music, movies, books – they are all becoming digital, they live in the cloud, and we’d often rather consume them through rental or subscription models. Enterprise software is catching up quickly on these contemporary consumption models – around the world, IT organizations, large and small, are moving from owning and managing their computing infrastructure to rent and subscription based models for computing resources.  This was evident from our recent ServiceNow’s 2016 Cloud Tipping Point survey, that showed the majority of enterprises were now “cloud-first,” where new apps were hosted in the cloud instead of the data center. This is huge because it changes everything.  It changes the economic model of computing, how agile your business can be and just about everything IT is and does.

The idea of moving to the cloud may sound appealing, but to many a sweeping shift from legacy systems looks, from the outset, like an intimidating, long and costly move.  The status quo can feel more comfortable when compared to the perceived wave of change that the cloud will bring.

New research collected at Pink Elephant 17, a well-known IT service management conference, revealed that while shifting to the cloud from legacy systems may appear to be daunting, those who have started the journey report that it’s not as hard as they thought.

We divided our nearly 100 respondents into 2 groups: “First-movers,” those who had started early and were at least 25 percent through making the shift to the cloud, and “Late-movers,” those who had not yet reached 25 percent completion.  What we found provides a reason to be optimistic about making this shift.

It turns out that once an organization has gotten underway (or finished) making the shift, their view on how difficult, costly and risky the shift will be changed – for the better.  For example, while 39 percent of late-movers predict the shift will take 4 or more years, only 17 percent of first-movers think that.  Actually, most respondents said the shift will be completed sooner than that: 61 percent of first movers believe the shift will take less than 2 years!

First-movers also say the shift is (or was) less difficult than what late-movers originally perceive. A staggering 91 percent of first-movers said making the shift was only “somewhat difficult” to “easy!”

While 59 percent of late-movers fear the shift will be “somewhat to extremely” expensive, only 39 percent of first-movers say it will be. In fact, 61 percent of first-movers now view the costs to complete the cloud-first shift as either a non-issue or somewhat inexpensive.

Demystifying the Challenges

Furthermore, as IT organizations continue to go through the shift to the cloud, they also change their perception on what is or isn’t challenging. For example, most late-movers (57 percent) see shortages of necessary IT skillsets as being a major obstacle to making the shift, yet only 30 percent of first-movers still believe that.  The same holds true for security fears (52 percent vs 30 percent) and a fear of losing control of projects (43 percent vs. 26 percent).

Inertia – Still the Biggest Barrier

However, one area that both first-movers and late-movers agree on is that Inertia is the biggest challenge they face when making this shift to the cloud (59 percent and 57 percent respectively).

In today’s world, where disruption is the norm rather than the exception, doing things as they have always been done can drive IT to become a less relevant player in the enterprise’s digital agenda.  The first thing that has to change is the mindset in IT – that change is inevitable, and this disruption is an opportunity for IT to play an even more strategic role in making technology a core differentiator for the business.

Lessons from First-Movers

So, what can IT do?  What should IT do?  Following are some recommendations:

  1. Shifting to cloud is a journey. Take the first step. Break things down into small, consumable pieces. Don’t become overwhelmed, take it one step at a time. Think about the outcomes, and make them measurable. That’s the only way to show your success.
  2. Start with low-hanging fruit and show leadership. One way for IT to demonstrate leadership is by moving critical applications to the cloud. ITSM is a low-risk, yet high-impact area where many have successfully made their first steps in the cloud-shift. By creating early success you’ll gain the required experience and credibility to move on to the next phases of the journey.
  3. Inertia is the #1 obstacle to change – tackle it head on. The shift to the cloud is inevitable and our mindset is the first thing that needs to change in order to embrace it. To use the excuse “this isn’t how we do things around here” isn’t just unacceptable, it can be harmful to the entire business.
  4. Create an environment of change. You can’t turn this change into a success on your own. You need to work with others around you: line of business (LOB) stakeholders, DevOps and other service functions. You are no longer the single technology voice in your company. Be open to hear what others experience and expect. That’s your opportunity to transform and thrive not as a technology custodian but rather a service broker.
  5. Be committed to change. There is no straight line to this path, but success will be found if you are moving forward. One of the great things that comes along with shifting to the cloud is lowering the cost and therefore the risk associated with failure. You can course correct faster and improve. You will not anticipate every risk, but if you don’t move, you’re waiting to be disrupted.

A “cloud-first” model is the de-facto standard for the majority of the enterprises today and for those who are still considering their next steps the message we found from our survey was eye-opening and clear: It’s really not as hard, costly and risky as you might think.  Taking the first step to generate quick success will pave the way to become a “cloud-first” IT organization.

Click here to access the full survey.  To learn more about how ServiceNow can help you take this first step with ITSM, visit: http://www.servicenow.com/solutions/improve-it-service-delivery.html