As more organisations move data into the cloud, one thing is clear: it’s a change journey.
Organisations are increasingly looking to democratise their data across their business teams, enabling better, faster decision making whilst at the same time, delivering clearer insights into how they can and need to adapt to shifting market dynamics. Yet the journey to building a strong ‘data culture’ remains elusive.
While becoming ‘data driven’ is often the goal, efforts to do so are often hobbled by outdated technologies and processes that leave teams without access to the data they need. Articulating what a data culture should be is often challenging for organisations because it is ultimately a change journey requiring both transformative technology and transformative thinking.
This is why drivers of moving to the cloud can be multifaceted and, ultimately, moving organisational data to the cloud requires a significant change in how the business collects, structures, analyses, and acts on the insights it gleans.
As with any major transformation, which data projects usually are, one thing is clear: it’s a business change journey.
Moving to the cloud
The triggers for moving organisational data off the premises and onto cloud platforms are well known. Changes to licensing costs, a shift to subscription-based pricing, the cost of buying and maintaining hardware, and advances in tech are just some of the reasons that IT is looking to the cloud. Four of the most common drivers include:
- The scale of data being generated, captured, stored, and access has skyrocketed over recent years, requiring a different level of capability required that on-prem struggles to match
- Advances in technology and the costs of on-prem infrastructure often exceed cloud-based data capability, making the case for moving to subscription-based licences becomes more compelling
- The opportunity that organisations can take from lessons from their data journey to date to develop the business cases to design a modern, well-architected and potentially more elastic solution that can adapt to suit the business as it changes
- The exciting capabilities that the cloud offers, such as advanced analytics use cases, faster streaming of data and processes, and the ability to plug in components that are ‘pay as you use’
Shifting to the cloud offers a range of benefits such as taking away the worry about ongoing operational costs, as software updates and infrastructure maintenance. While the need for data support teams remains, often the opportunity to start fresh and build a fit-for-purpose data management strategy in the cloud allows the organisation to design and architect a solution that suits the current and future business needs for data management.
However neglecting to focus on how these changes will impact the business’s processes, procedures, and data habits is a critical oversight in many transformation projects.
Speed to deploy and democratise data as mission-critical
As the impact of COVID-19 and other market forces have shown. the need to implement analytics capability based on trusted and democratised data has been turbocharged by disruptive forces outside most organisations that have significant impacts on performance, planning, and forecasting.
As market dynamics force businesses to adapt at an ever-increasing rate, the shift to cloud-based applications and data management is has shown that cloud data platforms are winning the data location argument.
Most CIOs and IT leaders recognise that any move to the cloud is must be coupled with broader initiatives across the business and most likely to succeed when business and IT strategy align. Achieving that alignment is difficult as often competing priorities and the demands of the business often outpace IT’s capability to deliver projects quickly.
The speed differential between cloud and on-prem data warehousing is overwhelmingly landing in favour of the cloud, where the IT has a far greater capacity to integrate new data points and sources fast and the integration of analytics tools is significantly faster and more robust than the point-to-point, often brittle or not expandable capacity of on-prem servers.
The ability to spin up resources or expand capacity at the click of a button, such as the size or computational capacity of the platform and integrate new data sources, is significantly faster in the cloud.
A business case that clearly articulates the benefits for cloud-based data platforms avoids being motivated by FOMO (fear of missing out) thinking by asking critical questions about how moving data to the cloud will enable the business to drive investment into the right places for future growth needs as well as how it can support teams to adopt new technologies.
Speed may be a driver, but managing the change is critical
While there is an ability to ‘lift and shift’ some applications from on-prem to the cloud and get people working quickly on tools they are already familiar with, the data migration journey is more likely to be successful when change management is built into the project from the start.
Typical data migration involves data engineers, data and security architects, solutions architects, and modellers, however embedding change managers into the project or transformation process enables the stakeholders to understand what the new world will look like, where the change impacts are going to occur, and how the business benefits can be articulated to bring the business on the change journey.
Change engagement is a critical part of successful project delivery on the scale often required for data projects as it lays the ground for what’s coming, when, and how whilst also articulating the business benefits to different stakeholder groups across the business.
Take, for instance, data governance. People within the business are often daunted by the reality of data management when they consider what’s in their on-prem solutions and what needs to move to the cloud. Both data management and data governance require a strong organisational change strategy as the business needs to consider which data to migrate, what policies and procedures are required to govern its quality, and what needs to be decommissioned.
Data is the new oil … and quality data change managers are rare as hens’ teeth
Data change management is a specialised capability that is unfortunately difficult to find in Australia. Data migration and data projects, in general, are generally quite different from typical solutions projects.
Aside from the more typical project management skills, data project specialists must be across the implications of policy, privacy, regulatory, and other data-related requirements. Augmenting a business project team with specialist data SME and change SME capability can not only get data migration projects set up for success but sustain it as data projects typically have a longer duration.
Even if business leaders approach cloud data projects as a fresh start, skilled data change management can ensure that the business not only adopts long-established data warehouse principles, they can ensure that data governance remains firmly in focus and that modern approaches are used to suit the cloud architecture they are implementing.
Having the right team on board from the outset can ensure that the business can avoid the costly mistakes of getting the strategy, architecture, and migration wrong. Experienced data change specialists are as rare as hens’ teeth and they bring a depth of knowledge about both failed and successful cloud data implementations.
As part of the CPM Group, Quay Consulting can support the data, change management, and project management needs for organisations that are moving their data off-prem and onto cloud platforms.
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