Organizational Agility — the Real Benefit of Cloud Computing

Agile firms outperform their competitors by sensing and responding to shifts in business environments quickly. Agility means life or death to many companies, and cloud can make your firm more agile. Agility is the ability to adapt to change in a responsive manner.

To be agile takes four things: configurability, responsiveness, employee adaptability, and a process-centric view. Configurability and responsiveness are characteristics of agility (and cloud computing services). Employee adaptability and a process centric view are characteristics of your team and how you manage them.

Sensing threats and opportunities in the marketplace is a primarily a business function. Swiftly adapting technology to accommodate in response is an IT function. Pre-cloud IT operates in terms of quarters and years, often delaying business process improvements. Cloud offers a new, on-demand business model for IT. Cloud’s core features address the first two components of agility. You need to manage your team differently to achieve the second two. Understanding cloud features and how you manage your teams to deliver Return on Agility is critical to a successful cloud adoption.

What You Need to Know

The benefits of cloud computing make it easier and more cost effective for you to add or change related business processes in response to market opportunities or challenges. Cloud’s benefits work together to increase your agility as follows:

Configurability is the ability to change the design of a system. Cloud services allow you to configure and re-configure solutions to business needs more easily. Making sure your cloud efforts focus on standards vs. proprietary or “hard wired” integrations is the first step towards becoming agile. Cloud provides access to new technologies that further enhance configurability.

Responsiveness refers to the ability of a system to adjust its configuration quickly in response to changes in situation. Cloud provides capacity on-demand. Cloud services can scale very quickly in response to increased (or decreased) demand. On-demand access to a large marketplace of metered cloud resources is the heart of agility.

Employee adaptability relates to how a team adjusts to changes in the workplace, and cloud changes the workplace dramatically. Teams require an organizational change approach to cloud. Employees need help understanding the changes cloud brings to their roles. Employees need new skills as well as new work identities, career paths and motivational factors.

Process-centricity ensures that you’re ready and able to adapt to new and changing business requirements when needed. It’s a requirement for agility. Critical tasks must execute with very little variation, and that requires process. To manage cloud for agility your team must be process-driven. You must have a focus on process and process improvement.

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