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Creating a culture of cloud innovation: Navigate 2022

December 05, 2022

In this article, we recap one of the Pluralsight Navigate 2022 breakout sessions, “Creating a Culture of Cloud Innovation,” hosted by Drew Firment. Panelists discussed the right and wrong reasons that organizations move to the cloud, the many barriers to cloud computing, and how to create a culture that supports innovation. Continue reading to learn more about this topic from the following speakers:

  • Rachel Manning, Head of Edtech at Google
  • Tim Fitzgerald, VP of Global Cloud Channel Technical & Services at Ingram Micro
  • Scott Jensen, Managing Director of Cloud Engineering at SADA
  • Drew Firment, VP of Enterprise Strategies at Pluralsight

Why move your business to the cloud?

Organizations move their infrastructure to the cloud for many reasons as they embrace cloud innovation. The cloud provides scalability, reliability, cost savings, and increased stability. Before businesses make a cloud migration, that is, moving their on-premises data centers to the cloud, it is important to understand the why behind it. The rationale behind the cloud is all about agility and doing business better. The cloud will best serve business leaders looking to bring structured and unstructured data together while serving their customers faster. 

However, cloud migration isn’t always for everyone. Jumping into cloud migration can be wrong for several reasons. First, if you don’t understand what the cloud is and what it does, stop there. So many people decide to move forward with cloud computing without being trained or educated. Understanding why people migrate to the cloud and how it helps organizations is a critical first step. 

“If anybody is going to cloud because that word was on the front page of CIO magazine, that’s a really bad reason to get there.” - Drew Firment, Navigate 2022

Can cloud computing be a disruptive innovation?

Don’t go into the cloud just to follow a trend. Make sure you understand what your “why” is. If you are solely looking to save money, that’s the wrong reason. Cloud migration is for companies looking to be agile, deliver faster results to customers, and scale effectively. 

Drew mentions that companies using the cloud strictly for cost savings are half as likely to save money than companies focused on using the cloud to innovate and bring customer value. 

“The broke version of the cloud is cost savings. The woke version of it is a strategic business value. I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot of business leaders joining us,” Drew said. 

If you want to move forward with cloud innovation, understand that there are some things you may want to consider. Let’s take a closer look at a few of those challenges.

What are the advantages and risks of cloud computing?

Panelists at Navigate 2022 discussed many barriers to entry in the world of cloud and cloud computing. Often, companies want to see a return on investment (ROI) with cloud, but what does that mean? 

Depending on your perspective, ROI is about uncovering customer needs, increasing storage, having a database, and coming up with a comprehensive data strategy to draw insights. 

In other words, the ROI for cloud can be anything. This vast, broad concept can work well if you seek to understand it and use it in a strategic way. 

Barriers to cloud computing

Aside from ROI, there are several other barriers to entry. During the session, Pluralsight displayed a graphic representing market challenges and the top risks involved in cloud implementation strategies. The top three challenges seen in the market are:

  • Security 
  • Lack of resources and expertise 
  • Managing cloud spending 

For cloud migration and operation to work, it must be a priority at the organizational level. Courses like the Fundamentals of Cloud Computing are a great starting point for an organization considering, or moving to, cloud computing. To go all in with the cloud, involving the organization, even on the most basic level, will help create a cloud innovation culture. Having some structure is valuable because the cloud can be a very chaotic topic. 

“[Cloud computing] is like putting kindergarteners with a bunch of puppies…you need to have a level of management and responsibility,” said Tim Fitzgerald.

You may have these awesome possibilities all over, but unless you know how to manage them, they will bring total chaos.

Managing cloud delays

Another element the Navigate 2022 panelists and audience found shocking was the delays. Drew shared that Gartner estimates that half of all IT cloud migrations are delayed by two years due to a lack of skills. 

While lack of skills may be a significant challenge, other challenges like security, cost, and the idea of multi-cloud add complexity, also causing delays. Scott ponders this statistic and shares that there are many “landing zones” with the cloud, many outcomes, and many benefits. He hears people constantly asking how to operate the cloud. Just because a company has purchased, procured, and planned for the cloud doesn’t mean they know how to operate it. The operational piece is the trickiest and often where most get stuck.

Creating a culture of cloud innovation

Because the operational side of cloud is often the most complex for organizations that do not fully understand it, it is important to cultivate a culture around cloud innovation. 

According to Pluralsight’s 2022 State of Cloud Report,  75% of leaders are using the cloud to better their applications. So, we know this isn’t going away anytime soon. But with the complex cloud culture, how do we start breaking down barriers and inviting more people to join? Panelists discuss their thoughts at Navigate 2022.

How do you transform from cloud literacy to cloud fluency?

Cloud is very much a culture and a language. The more you can commoditize that, the more people have a seat at the table. When dealing with the vastness of the cloud and cloud innovation ideas, in reference to operation, there need to be experts within the organization who can share cloud innovation knowledge with others. All being an expert means is knowing what you don’t know and accepting that this will be a learning journey.

In other words, it is about moving from cloud literacy to cloud fluency. You must go beyond the “table stakes” of the basic info and dive deeper. How do we do this? We put people first and focus on teaching our workforce. 

A big question that surfaced was time. How do you make the time for your employees to build literacy and fluency? Here are some tips from the panelists:

  • Create a learning plan that allows for hands-on experience.
  • Design content that is adaptive and digestible. Don’t just learn for the sake of learning—make it applicable.
  • Have grace; things won’t always go according to plan in real life.
  • Be flexible, and meet people where they are. For example, do they learn on a laptop, mobile device, or tablet?
  • Dedicate time to training and upskilling, and make it simple, constant, and continuous so that people keep learning and leveling. The investment will accelerate cloud fluency much faster.
  • Keep people front and center. Culture is all about people.
  • Public sector and government agencies can accelerate their public sector innovation with industry-specific recommendations.

“In today’s business climate, it is no longer the big eating small; it is the fast eating the slow.” - Drew Firment, Navigate 2022

There’s no time quite like the present to apply these principles when creating a culture of cloud innovation.

Final reflections on cloud innovation

There are many good reasons for your organization to undergo cloud migration. The cloud provides scalability, reliability, cost savings, and increased stability. However, be mindful that there will be challenges. The cloud comes with a steep learning curve. Pluralsight offers helpful courses to help you begin your cloud migration journey. 

To set up your organization for success, the cloud initiative needs to be company-wide, with leadership embracing the true value of the cloud as an innovation catalyst. Because of its complexity, there can be significant delays when it comes to getting companies on board and fully operative within the cloud. Delays are mainly due to lack of skill. One way to combat this is by giving employees the time and space to learn and upskill. 

How can leaders make the time for the organization to do this? Panelists share that creating structure, being patient, having flexibility, and keeping people front and center is a great start to bring your company from cloud literacy to fluency.

Curious to learn more about what’s coming in 2023 in the cloud? Join Pluralsight on December 8th for our Cloud Transformation Day virtual event.