Five tips for a successful digital (cloud) transition
Your company’s strategy is clear: you want to innovate, grow, continue to improve your quality and service. Whatever your objective is, you need to be able to adapt and respond quickly to any situation - to shift gears quickly. However, the practical reality shows that many IT managers are struggling with a mix of interconnected software and applications. There is no time for innovation and experimentation, since work is already so high-pressured when you’re just focusing on maintenance and updates for the current IT landscape. Systems that run locally and applications that are tricky to connect are all getting in the way of achieving your ambitions.
How do you make your IT landscape flexible and future-proof? Looking towards the future means looking to the cloud. The cloud is the starting point from which you can build your perfect IT system on a scalable platform, with software and applications that are easy to connect and integrate.
Here you will read how the cloud will help you achieve your strategy and ambitions. You’ll also see what it takes to make this transition go smoothly. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to ensure your IT landscape is both flexible and future-proof.
Need to shift gears quickly?
Get your application landscape ready for the future!
Does it take more and more time to keep your application landscape up-to-date? Is simply upgrading one or two applications no longer enough to achieve sufficient functionality? Are your software and systems not user-friendly and accessible enough? If you want to start working digitally, then it is time to start thinking about a transformation to the cloud.
Most organisations are considering switching to the cloud, since it offers a lot of flexibility. However, there are even more benefits involved:
- No more huge investments in servers
- Scalable server capacity - scaled up or down as needed
- Cost efficiencies thanks to smarter use of storage and a quicker roll-out of new functionalities
- Low-threshold roll-out and integration of applications
- Assured security e.g. automatic encryption
- Automatic backups prevent data loss and time-consuming processes in case of any roll-backs
- Real-time data exchange for up-to-date reports, anywhere, anytime
The benefits of cloud technology in a nutshell
The possibilities that the cloud offers are abundant. At the same time, a successful transition is not something you can arrange overnight. How and where do you start? How do you make sure that you don’t lose sight of the long term goals? What will happen to your ‘old’ data and systems? Will your employees need to adopt a different way of working? Is your management organization geared to the cloud?
Increasing competition and changing customer demands
A supplier of non-food products to supermarkets and various companies in the hospitality sector has a Microsoft ERP system and its own competence centre, including a sizeable team of IT professionals. Considering the future, the increasing competition and changing customer demands, the company wanted to review its current strategy. They enlisted HSO to support them with that exercise and together we explored the demands and needs of the various types of customers; the business model the company was using and the processes associated with it. Following this, we looked at which technology could meet these needs and make this strategy possible.
Field Service in today's market
On the diagram we can see that the 2018 application landscape looks very different from what many companies are used to. Take the ERP system, for instance. In the world as we know it, the ERP system used to be the big, beating heart of the IT landscape. ERP was home to the majority of the functionalities in your organisation, including several key aspects. Examples include Field Service, CRM and BI.
We can now see that various data, functionalities and processes that used to be in ERP are now placed in all sorts of other apps. Take for instance the following example of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit, where the actual purchasing, invoicing and inventory management takes place in the ERP system.
The big advantage of this differentiation is that modern apps are much lighter, more flexible and also often more user-friendly – and are therefore much easier to adapt to future challenges.
Yes, we are moving to the cloud... now what?
You have made your decision. You expect that the cloud will have major benefits for your company. But how do you apply that ambition in practice? Where do you need to start within that multitude of applications and fragmented systems? After all, IT systems and applications are often interdependent. And some systems are more business-critical than others. A digital transformation is not something you can arrange overnight.
To make a successful transition, it is key to adopt an integrated approach to your IT strategy. Which applications are business-critical? Which applications are connected to each other? Which data is stored where? First and foremost, it is vital to create a complete overview of the current situation – and to gain insight into your final goals and understand where possible risks are. The best way to approach this is by means of Enterprise Architecture.
Integrated vision for development of the IT landscape
The core of this concept is that HSO does not have a technology perspective, but instead operates on the basis of your company’s strategy. We develop an integrated vision for your IT landscape addressing the following questions:
- What are my primary strategic objectives?
- How do I translate my strategy into practice?
- Which data are available and relevant?
- How do I structure my data?
- Which applications do I need and how do we integrate them?
- How do we ensure sufficient knowledge of the various apps?
Based on the answers to these questions and more, we will draw up a plan for the development of your IT landscape that you can use to achieve your strategy.
Ask the expert
Ferry Teheux, Solution Architect at HSO, talks about the importance of Enterprise Architecture
Q: Can you explain why architecture is key?
A: “In an architecture project, we do not have a technology perspective, but instead operate on the basis of a company’s strategy. That is the first thing we want to clarify. What are the strategic objectives? What do you want to achieve? Then we determine the business processes that go along with that.
We investigate which processes in the entire organisation should stay the same and which should not, for instance. Which information is essential for management? We always look at what actually matters. This approach ensures that all changes that are part of a transition stay manageable and relevant.
Only in the next step do we actually investigate which technology is needed to achieve these objectives. The final result of an architecture project is generally a roadmap, containing a series of orderly projects, with the ideal situation for your company as the final outcome.”
Q: But how do I determine which applications I should update first and move into the cloud?
A: That depends on many factors. That is why it is key to start by creating an overview of all the software and applications you have in-house. Who are the users and who manages the application? Do you have sufficient knowledge within your company? Is the software still supported by the supplier? Which business information is crucial for your operations? What needs top security or centralized administration? Then we determine the right order of the projects. Should we go for the low-hanging fruit first, resulting in quick wins? Or do we start with your most fundamental applications? That decision entirely depends on the situation in your company.
Q: So that means a company will always have to deal with a hybrid situation, temporary or not?
A: That is correct. But you will have the final objective clearly in sight, with the risks mapped out and the right priorities set: a flexible, future-proof IT landscape that will help you achieve your business objectives.
"The roadmap is our final objective. This gives a clear view on your flexible, future-proof IT landscape that will help you to achieve your business objectives”
Provide a clear strategy and explain it thoroughly to the entire company.
Make a rulebook with clear guidelines and rules on how you want your organisation to work.
When implementing new business applications, make sure that you keep your strategic objectives in mind and avoid allowing technology to take the lead. After all, you want a business-driven application, not an application-driven business.
Function - not system
Think in terms of functionality and not in system names. After all, the meaning of words will change over time. Ten years ago, CRM meant something entirely different to what it does now. What do you have in mind as a company when you are talking about CRM? Are you all on the same page?
Start with the basics: create a solid foundation from which you can start to build. Consider basic functionalities, management, security, and so on. We call this the ‘cloud foundation’.
Fix your fundamentals first
At the basis of each successful cloud transformation lies a solid base to build on: the cloud foundation. The majority of maintenance jobs in existing systems involves basic tasks, such as keeping security up-to-date, configuring systems regarding identity management, and aspects like storage and security. By building a solid and sophisticated foundation, it becomes possible to spend far less time on these mostly infrastructure-related factors. Before we can develop a new landscape, we advise you to first create a solid foundation for integration, security, single sign-on, etc. We call this the ‘cloud foundation’.
This is what a transformation could look like in practice:
Your digital transformation with HSO
More and more companies are embracing the cloud or will soon be making the transition. It is not whether you will make the transition, but more when and how.
HSO has a team of architects who have a solid working knowledge of business processes. They are the linking pin between your strategy, your processes and your IT platform. We offer our extensive knowledge of the latest software and applications and complex integration issues, supplemented by knowledge of analytics, infrastructure, performance and security. That way we can help you develop and manage the IT landscape that will work for your organisation.