A cloud strategy is today’s top enterprise data strategy trend. We explain what it is, why it’s important and how to implement it into your business strategy.
A data strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines each facet of your organization’s information assets.
Integral to articulating and achieving your company’s goals, a data strategy specifies procedures about how to collect, protect and share data and who should manage each of these responsibilities. An organization’s data strategy should evolve with its assets, empowering you to make well-informed decisions.
Introducing Cloud Strategy
The pandemic-driven movement to remote and hybrid work has shifted most organizations’ data strategies. Without access to their on-site servers, businesses that had previously resisted the cloud embraced it so that their employees and clients could access data assets from home. In 2020 alone, 61 percent of businesses migrated assets to the cloud to accommodate the mass transition to work-from-home.
Since 2020, the quantity of data in the cloud has increased rapidly, and so has its application. Many businesses found that hosting data assets on the cloud rather than on a physical server significantly benefitted their organization, allowing people to engage with new technologies regularly.
The value of the cloud is undeniable, enabling innovation with a much lower barrier to entry. Roughly 67 percent of enterprise infrastructure is now cloud-based, but many businesses’ data strategies do not reflect how their employees and clients use the cloud. For example, the average employee uses 36 cloud-based services every day, which means that every employee has the potential to access and work with your organization’s data assets in 36 different ways every day.
If your organization doesn’t already have a cloud strategy to account for this reality, developing one is essential. A cloud strategy explains how the cloud will operate within your company’s existing infrastructure, how to migrate assets from physical servers to the cloud, who has access to what data on which platforms, and how employees can use your organization’s chosen cloud software to maximize the value of data assets.
Developing a Cloud Migration Strategy
Data strategies are complex, and their cloud strategy components are no exception. A cloud strategy takes more than a subscription. It requires intentional architectural design. When constructing a cloud migration strategy, you should consider these three aspects of your business:
The size of your business determines the concerns of your cloud strategy. Small businesses and startups might opt for a single-cloud strategy, in which one cloud platform hosts all company assets. Mid-size and large companies might lean towards a multi-cloud strategy, which uses cloud services from multiple vendors.
In a multi-cloud strategy, you might use one platform for internal operations and another to manage client data. Larger businesses might also choose a hybrid strategy over a full cloud migration, moving some assets to the cloud while keeping sensitive legacy materials on a physical server on premise.
2. Priorities and Goals
Articulated goals and success indicators will fortify your cloud strategy, allowing your company to monitor progress and pivot as business priorities change. Before mobilizing resources, you should consult a cloud strategist or trusted partner who knows your business. After communicating why you are considering the cloud, what you hope to get out of it, and what your long-term vision of technology in your company is, your cloud strategist or partner can present different cloud capabilities that best align with your priorities and goals.
Cloud platforms juggle robust capabilities and ease of use. Some offer a host of possibilities but at the cost of an expensive and brittle approach. Others offer limited capabilities but are more accessible. A trusted conversation or a map of your organization’s team-based capabilities will determine what best serves your business.
It will take time to develop a plan for how the cloud will interact with each aspect of your organization. However, the benefits of doing so speak for themselves. A cloud strategy enables agility, so you can adjust cloud storage, platforms and resources to adapt to your company’s specific needs.
3. Blind Spots
After considering your business’ size and goals, it’s important to consider what isn’t front of mind. Small businesses and startups often underestimate the need for security in their cloud strategy, focusing on growth and low cost but neglecting to consider how creative decisions can compromise the security of your cloud environment.
In contrast, larger corporations risk placing too much emphasis on security. The more robust the security measures, the less usable your cloud environment.
Ultimately, the cloud is one of your company’s most powerful tools, and each decision of your cloud migration strategy should align with your company’s short- and long-term goals.
Failing to Prepare a Cloud Strategy
In a slowing economy with a resilient job market, businesses are pursuing two things: customers and talent. Without modifying their data strategy to consider how the cloud can best benefit their business, organizations will be at a disadvantage with both.
Customers expect organizations to successfully leverage cloud technology. The cloud has seamlessly integrated itself into everyday life: many schools use Google Drive and Dropbox, and Google Photos and iCloud are popular cloud storage platforms for personal photos. If people use the cloud without issue every day, they expect the businesses they work with to navigate similar technology with ease.
Failing to plan a cloud migration strategy, educate your organization on its benefits, and manage customer and employee expectations can result in a failed transition to the cloud and lost competitive advantage.
Additionally, the cloud is one of the most prominent educational tools for training the next generation of talent. Rapid developments in business intelligence, data analytics and machine learning bachelor’s and graduate degrees indicate that current students and recent graduates are comfortable using large amounts of data to inform decision making and goal setting.
Without a well-developed cloud strategy, you risk losing out on powerful team members. Without a cloud strategy fortified with strong data governance, you risk allowing powerful team members to make decisions that fundamentally alter your business without your knowledge or consent.
Incorporating a cloud strategy into your existing data strategy will only strengthen your organization. A cloud strategy helps you articulate your company’s goals, provides you with the infrastructure to realize these goals quickly and easily, and allows you to monitor your progress so you can modify your goals and allow them to grow.