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Business and application transformation: the key is data

True transformation requires a data-first approach. You consider what data and information your ‘consumers’ require, where and how they need it and the state of it.

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Dean Gardner

Dean Gardner

Chief Technologist for Cloud

This is a familiar term used by many organisations to drive cloud adoption and, in turn, deliver digital transformation. But does that approach get the results businesses set out to achieve?

True transformation requires a data-first approach. You consider what data and information your ‘consumers’ require, where and how they need it and the state of it. For example, is it constrained by a legacy system that blocks its accessibility or the ability for you to monetise it?

This approach dictates the next steps, and helps to identify the ifs and hows of moving a process or service to the cloud.

 

People consume data, not applications

Many organisations already use SaaS for key business functions, such as productivity, finance, HR or document management. It should therefore come as no surprise that Microsoft, SalesForce, Workday and ServiceNow occupy top spots as SaaS partners and offer many ‘tried and tested’ routes to transforming data and resulting process to cloud. This enables more effective integration across the business, while giving users easier access to data and analytical information.

But what we’re currently seeing is that monolithic datasets and applications within the traditional data centre are still creating bottlenecks for true business transformation. Unstructured data sprawl is accelerating at scale, which creates a range of challenges. This monolithic nature, typically associated with something that was developed 10-15 years ago, is critical to the business, but everyone is scared to even think about what to do with it.

 

Overcoming the obstacles to transformation

Being cloud first doesn’t mean moving everything to cloud. In its simplest terms, it means you should consider your objectives, constraints, users, data and applications to strike the right outcome and maximise existing investments.

But that’s easier said than done, so what are the key areas you should start with, or questions you should ask yourself on this journey?

 

1. Am I transforming as fast as I could be?

A lot of applications are delivered and managed by ISVs. You can only go at the speed they are going based on their own cloud transformation programmes. How can you transform an application when you’re waiting for the ISV to transform?

Look at the function of the application and ask yourself if there is a better way to provide that service to the end user.

 

2. Could my operations be better consolidated?

You have a range of operational services that rely on infrastructure. But as part of the cloud transformation, how can you standardise operations across multiple platforms, while not being locked into specific cloud strategies?

Move towards services and products that allow you to consolidate operational complexity – regardless of the platforms being consumed. Security, observability, and costs can all be used as part of ‘SaaSifying’ your operations and moving away from the traditional data centre.

 

3. Do I have the insights I need?

Your business data is critical, but how do you truly understand what data you have, so that you can make realistic decisions to better utilise it?

Use a centralised data source to deliver true business value. By using analytical tools, you can move into making proactive business decisions. This also makes room for moving traditional databases into a platform to support data transformation.

 

4. Could I simplify my investments?

You have a focus on investments and need to simplify and consolidate. How can you marry these areas together?

Look at consolidation tools and your existing investments. Many products can do more than you think, and can integrate with other tools you have invested in. Rationalising toolsets is critical to simplifying operations.

 

5. Am I focusing on the right platform?

Should you choose AWS, Azure or GCP as a platform, even if you think you are already using them?

We don’t think this matters anymore. You should have a platform agnostic strategy and move towards operating effectively across the hyperscalers. It’s now about using the right software and platform for the right service. Who wants a pure vendor lock in strategy as part of a cloud strategy?

 

6. Am I making the most of what I have?

You are already consuming services in public cloud and have a range of SaaS. But you may not know what you have, what’s being spent or if you are getting business value. So where do you start?

Centralise observability and FinOps to single tools that can ingest data and build out a picture of usage more effectively. Many organisations are using native localised tooling to make decisions, but that isn’t scalable.

Each question requires careful consideration for you and your business, but the common thread to obtain answers is to understand your data to determine next steps.

Without data and insights, how can you transform? Gain some insight into your hybrid cloud strategy, including a focus on data and apps, here.

 

The face of true transformation

Transformation comes from how you change the data landscape. By making monetisation of data a priority, the rest will follow. The same goes for building integrated flows and the processes to support how systems will integrate.

Looking at an existing operational function or application in isolation isn’t the best approach. To truly transform, we need to look at what that function or application does or provides – then work back from that and use data to drive a decision. That’s true transformation.

 

If you found this blog helpful here are links to the other blogs in this series: 

Three keys to making your enterprise hybrid cloud strategy successful

Effective preparation is the key to data resilience

Clearing the way for public cloud

 

Want to find out more about how the cloud can help you?