Moving to the Cloud is not All About Technology: Culture Change Required

When organizations are thinking about moving workloads to the cloud the focus is typically on the technology change and how hard this change will be. However, that is only half of the challenge. Changing the company culture is equally, if not more important than, changing the technology.

It is true, moving from rack-mounted servers, networking switches and routers, and Storage Area Networks to using cloud services in a shared environment is a huge change technically and has been described as a paradigm shift in IT thinking. Spinning up instances through an online portal can be scary for some legacy IT organizations- mainly because you cannot see the blinking lights of the servers you are working on. Any time change of this magnitude is introduced, the fear of the unknown creeps up. But in all honesty, the technical piece is not the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is changing the culture of the IT staff that will be involved. Getting the organization to understand how these changes can be positive and how cloud concepts can propel an organization into a more streamlined, efficient group is the biggest hurdle. Here are the two biggest culture challenges that I see when speaking with clients at the beginning of their cloud journey:

First, the culture change needs to come from the top down. Forcing cloud concepts onto a resistant IT culture can make things very difficult, and can lead to failed cloud transformations.  IT Technicians will be quick to point this out, thus securing their “role” as manager of whatever HW solution they attend to currently. Without a consistent message from upper-level management, these scenarios will continue to play out and doom cloud concepts from ever getting off the ground.

The idea that an organization has a team of certified and experienced people that will have to change is the other challenge. When these teams hear that they will have to learn a new technology, the nay-sayers will come out of the woodwork. Nobody likes change, but dealing with change is key to success. What Relus tries to do is take an approach where we not only help train the team during an engagement, but can actually help the organization identify areas that present the biggest change challenge. Making these teams feel comfortable with the upcoming changes is where Relus distinguishes themselves from other firms. Again, most companies have deep and experienced teams set in their ways. Helping these teams understand that learning cloud concepts will not only be critical in the upcoming transformation, but will actually be a huge plus for any future endeavors that may come their way is just one way Relus Cloud can help.

Recently, I secured a contract with an organization that was trying to determine what path it should take in regards to its cloud strategy. What provider should it choose? What partner should it choose? How fast should it make this transition? Throughout our conversations with this client I continued to ask questions about its business and company culture, and not just technology its technology preference. We discussed how important the cultural transition would be and that putting a framework around that piece was just as important as what technology the company picked. As we came to find out after winning the contract, Relus was the only partner that introduced this concept to them. And of course, the rest is history.

So if you are an organization looking to venture into the cloud, please make sure you consider how this transition will impact your company’s culture, and make sure you are prepared to tackle this hurdle, as it will certainly have a huge impact on your success.