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Preparing IT Teams for the New Cloud Normal

Sep 3, 2020 2:15:00 PM

by Charles Bystock

Enterprise organizations were slow to evolve to cloud technology from their legacy platforms and on-premise server rooms. But in the past five years, they’ve worked hard to catch up to the rest of the world, even if their efforts only encompassed hybrid models with one foot on-premises and one in the cloud. Then COVID-19 hit.

Efforts to digitally transform have not been killed by the global pandemic. For all practical purposes, even the idea of digital transformation suggests a fuller embrace of cloud technology. But what happens to our vast infrastructure support teams when we finally commit to the cloud? The answer for many enterprise organizations initially was to layoff long-term employees and replace them with a new cadre of skilled workers. This approach left many individuals facing unemployment, further disrupting our economy. Instead, we suggest reskilling your current teams for your new or expanded cloud needs as a wiser approach.

The state of cloud transformation

If there has been one benefit from COVID-19, it’s that it’s pushed us a little further into cloud adoption. IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey showed companies are aggressively pursuing their efforts to move into the cloud in the next 18 months. InfoWorld seconds the idea that cloud migration is accelerating:

“At this moment in time, when businesses face an economic downturn — and the labor and capital required to stand up servers and license software may be prohibitive — an accelerated shift to the cloud seems inevitable.”

As we approach the fourth quarter, many organizations have migrated much of their on-premises applications to cloud platforms, allowing for better flexibility as the world as we know it continues to evolve under COVID-19. As operations shifted to the cloud, InfoWorld reports that 67% of IT leaders say they have added new roles and functions built specifically for this new infrastructure, including DevOps and cloud system administrators.

While adding new roles for new cloud environments may be a necessity, forward-thinking organizations also should shift their focus toward reskilling their existing workforce for better efficiency in cloud environments.

Reskilling workers for the cloud

Reskilling your existing teams to prepare for an impending cloud migration will take more than an Azure certification. CIOs and IT managers will need to create a more agile infrastructure that may be leaner on the ground. Addressing how the cloud will change infrastructure management and governance, costs, security, interoperability, and performance with an eye toward the end-user is critical. Simply put, the entire IT paradigm will shift, and organizations must retool their structures as much as they must reskill their workers.

Reimaging your IT department isn’t an overnight process; CIOs themselves are still learning the lay of the land in the ever-evolving cloud landscape. Addressing how this shift could change security and performance, scalability, costs, interoperability, user access, and governance will be an on-going process that many organizations have just begun. The shifts are not only technological, they’re cultural as well. Organizations must invest in employee buy-in as much as education in everything from APIs and containerization to security and agility. Teaching your existing IT teams the value in an ever-evolving technology climate where risk adds value may be your toughest undertaking, but the technical and historical insight of your existing teams is worth the effort. If that isn’t enough of an enticement, the looming shortage of IT workers should tip the scales in favor of a reskilling effort across your organization. 

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What will IT look like in a decade?

The future is difficult to predict with any certainty. There is no historic data that will guide our transformation. However, as we change the very infrastructure that supports the enterprise, cuts to middle management will be inevitable. Honing IT architectures to make them more agile and less bureaucratic will create leaner environments where innovation is more likely to occur.

CIO suggests that our migration to the cloud will transform the work environment in other ways as well including:

  • The automation found in artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms will change the structure of almost every job description in the future. But even developers are changing their approach as they use open-source APIs to integrate previously siloed business functions and machine learning to create more intuitive code.
  • In one sense, the robots will take our jobs, but they also will create a higher demand for “human” skills like creativity, critical thinking, and decision making. In the cloud environments of the future, even the ability to negotiate and manage SaaS service agreements becomes a marketable skill.
  • The necessity of top-down bureaucracies will shift to horizontal, cross-functional, ad-hoc teams empowered with real-time decisions that affect the bottom line. This, more than anything else, will serve to eliminate middle management as a stable pillar of the infrastructure. Although many organizations will see this as a necessary cost-cutting measure during COVID-19, the elimination of controlling supervisory positions will boost team creativity and innovation.

As if 2020 hasn’t driven enough change in our organizations, the reality is that the next decade will force restructure of our IT infrastructures, go-to technologies, and the workforce we rely on. It helps to know there’s a trusted resource available to help you navigate these uncharted paths. Start the conversation with the Windsor Group now to stay better prepared for the future.

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