Companies that wish to remain competitive need fast communication, secure data and productive employees to run smoothly. In this quest for agility in a globalized market, one tool has proven indispensable: the cloud.
Employees and data are a company’s greatest assets, but they’re also the most vulnerable. When employees lack the proper tools to share sensitive information with one another and with outside parties, they expose the company’s data to risk. And when a business doesn’t give employees the resources they need to collaborate and remain productive no matter where they are or how they’re accessing data, that business risks losing talent to more agile competitors.
Beyond security, the cloud offers file sharing, video conferencing and other productivity features that make it easier to work across time zones and physical offices. In the past, asynchronous collaboration has been difficult for IT workers to manage, but with the cloud, a company’s daily operations are based in one remotely accessible place, allowing employees in different locations, different departments and different generations to work together seamlessly.
Now that half of all global enterprises rely on public cloud platforms, companies that fail to leverage these advantages are already falling behind—not only in their operations management but also in their employee management. Millennial workers have shown a mastery of and preference for cloud-based work, and even older generations have shown that they’re eager to adopt new technology. In response, companies are instituting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, most of which rely on some level of cloud usage.
These factors and more indicate that cloud technology is no longer simply a luxury. It’s increasingly necessary for organizations of all kinds to migrate to the cloud.
The cloud in action
I’ve seen hundreds of companies complete a cloud migration over the course of my career, and from my experience, the more complex a company’s needs are, the more it stands to gain from a cloud upgrade.
One security intelligence firm in the Northeast presented a particularly tough IT challenge: Its employees were based all around the world, and due to the nature of the business, those employees handled extremely sensitive information daily. Adopting the Microsoft Office 365 cloud platform allowed them to streamline communications and workflow while keeping their confidential data secure.
I’ve seen a global strategy firm with Fortune 500 clients adopt the same platform; moving to the cloud helped its offices better align their strategy and operations. Another company, a mid-Atlantic financial corporation, chose the cloud to let employees use their own devices for work purposes, saving the company money in hardware costs without sacrificing data security.
A cloud migration can mean different things to different businesses, but there are some common best practices to follow when switching to the cloud. To make that switch without missing a beat, follow these five steps.
1. Don’t do it alone
Unless a business specializes in cloud computing, it shouldn’t attempt a move to the cloud without some help. A poorly executed migration can lead to lost money, time, productivity and trust from both employees and clients.
Moving to the cloud is not as simple as flipping a switch. For some companies, it could mean a complete overhaul of their IT infrastructure. A business should look for a cloud migration partner with client references and case studies. These experts can figure out which platforms and services will fit the business best.
2. Start with a technology assessment
The first step in the migration process is an in-depth analysis of current IT assets and infrastructure. Every business’s migration will be a little bit different, so each company and its cloud partner should fully consider the business’s goals, technology infrastructure and needs before moving forward with a migration.
Consult with technical experts to discuss existing processes and infrastructure. This will help the partner make recommendations to optimize end-user readiness, prepare to migrate applications and content, and ensure long-term success.
3. Involve employees in the process
Before the migration begins, be transparent with employees about the impending digital transformation. Create a culture that is supportive of and excited about these changes. That way, employees will be willing to help move the process along and readily adopt the new technology.
Explaining the business goals and desired outcomes of the migration—and the imminent payoff for employees—will help generate goodwill toward the process. If a workforce buys into the changes, the adoption will likely be smoother and will ultimately optimize your return on investment (ROI) from the cloud.
4. Provide extra support to IT
During the early deployment phases, limit productivity losses by supplementing or expanding the IT desk. Help employees by providing on-demand advisors, self-help resources and training opportunities.
Cloud migrations naturally disrupt existing workflows, particularly in a company’s IT processes. Anticipate areas where production might slow down, and search for temporary resources that can help.
5. Follow through with more training
Training shouldn’t end with migration. Follow through before, during and after implementation to make sure employees are getting the most out of the cloud. Individual and group coaching, interactive webinars and a knowledgeable partner will reinforce the new workflow and help employees adapt.
Leading cloud vendors, such as Microsoft, continually add new features and capabilities that enhance productivity and collaboration. Make it a priority to stay up to date, so you continue to maximize your ROI. Because the cloud will now be an ongoing expense for your company, it’s important to continually assess whether you’re reaping the benefits from the cloud platform. The cloud partner can make sure a business gets the most of its investment.
Cloud migration is one step in the digital transformation process, but it’s not the end; a company can begin taking advantage of a host of new IT opportunities once it’s leveraging the cloud. After following these tips for migration, businesses can truly begin putting cloud technology to work.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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