The client, a global leader in travel accommodations and vacation timeshares, considers its IT services a strategic asset supporting excellent experiences for its guests and reliable, secure interactions with its vendors. In the hospitality industry, as in many service-focused enterprises, cloud based solutions are beginning to emerge for both business and IT applications. Some business and IT decision-makers were intrigued by the prospect of using the cloud as a powerful way to innovate business operations. They believed that adopting cloud models, could create an opportunity for faster, more capable and less expensive business operations, and reasoned that moving the corporation’s applications, architectures, and infrastructure into the cloud would accelerate the speed of change necessary to stay competitive in their dynamic industry. They pushed for fast-tracking cloud solutions into the company’s IT delivery model.
However, only one of the client’s three autonomous business units was aggressively pursuing cloud-based solutions. Its decision makers wanted to seize every opportunity to replace on-premise IT functions with Software as a Service (SaaS) and other IT services delivered by the cloud. Another business unit was evaluating cloud opportunities on a case-by case basis, and a third saw no particular urgency in moving into the cloud. At the corporate level, leadership was eager to harvest the opportunities presented by the cloud, and advocating more aggressive, consistent adoption across the board, but recognized the need for building a coherent approach and for ensuring that the IT group was a trusted partner in making that transition. The IT organization, in partnership with the business units, was looking to “recalibrate” the company’s IT delivery model and re-engineer its IT governance to make sure the cloud delivered all the benefits the client expected.
The client sought assistance in identifying best practices for integrating newer cloud-based delivery models into its existing IT value chain. Based on a recommendation, the client selected WGroup to guide its journey into the cloud.
WGroup began by conducting focused, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to understand how they — individually and collectively — envisioned the cloud fitting into their business model. WGroup principals posed questions to discover what cloud applications the various stakeholders wanted to implement, what opportunities they wanted to develop, and what risks and pitfalls they sought to avoid. The interviews probed objectives and perceptions of decision makers in both business and IT, and across critical functions such as finance, supply chain, procurement, M&A, and business strategy. WGroup used knowledge obtained from these discussions to formulate a cloud-based IT strategy. WGroup presented its findings, analysis, and recommendations to these same stakeholders and worked closely with them to refine the strategy and design roadmaps to guide the client into the cloud.
WGroup’s stakeholder interviews revealed that the client was already using a greater number of cloud solutions than business leaders knew. There were also more plans in the works for deploying additional cloud solutions than most stakeholders realized. One big problem: Cloud opportunities were not being approached consistently. Good opportunities for cloud solutions were missed – either through lack of awareness, or concerns about ability to execute. Moreover, cloud implementations were designed as one offs, not guided by a consistent vision or a coherent strategy—a recipe for technological anarchy. WGroup took on the role of helping the client apply strong governance practices and define an integrated strategy to help the company get more value from the cloud.
WGroup devised an integrated 2-year roadmap that comprehended the different situations of each of the three business units and the corporate IT organization. These accommodated the disparate BU strategies, while improving consistency, synergy and coherence. WGroup further identified areas encompassing people as well as process and technology where changes in approach, capabilities and delivery models would be required to support the journey to the cloud. WGroup made specific recommendations to re-engineer business processes, acquire new skills and transform existing governance models to make cloud solutions an integral part of a coordinated and comprehensive IT strategy, all while building a stronger, more collaborative partnership between IT and business stakeholders. WGroup further proposed new approaches to architecture, security, integration, and IT management tools to accommodate the requirements of cloud technology and take advantage of new options provided by cloud technology.
Moving into the cloud and the world of “on-demand IT” is an increasingly viable and desirable option for businesses large and small. Migration to the cloud should not be seen as a reason or an excuse to ignore or marginalize still vital IT functions such as security and governance. On the contrary, the need to manage and control solutions delivered via the cloud is just as important as ever, although they are accomplished differently. Collaboration between a company’s business units and its IT organization, always a critical factor in the success of any IT initiative, becomes even more critical as business stakeholders take more active and decisive roles in guiding the corporation’s IT strategy and architecture.
Moving from “on-premise” IT into the cloud requires new ways of thinking, planning, and acting. Organizations heading into the cloud should adopt a “cloud first” policy when they’re adding new capabilities and replacing major applications. Cloud based solutions won’t always be the answer, but cloud based options should be explored and evaluated before automatically defaulting to a traditional premise based answer. To experience the benefits of cloud-based IT organizations need to institute standard, shared business processes across the IT value chain. Standardization is a necessary first step on the way to automation and world class cloud based solutions already incorporate best in class workflows and processes.
Proper governance and consistent, shared processes are essential for success in the cloud. Governance and IT financial management functions need to be standardized throughout the enterprise. Standardized, rigorous IT governance helps to ensure data security, institutionalize best practices, and better leverage IT services for competitive advantage. Addressing the shift in the spending mix between capital expenses and operating expenses occasioned by moving to cloud-based IT requires a game plan informed by standardized IT financial management processes.
WGroup’s analysis and recommendations helped the client refine its choice of the cloud solutions best suited to its business objectives and integrate them into its overall business processes. WGroup helped to turn discord into consensus among stakeholders, making the client’s journey into the cloud smooth and straightforward. Recommendations from WGroup included roadmaps the individual business units are using to train and motivate their people and re-engineer their processes and technology to integrate cloud solutions into enterprise-wide delivery of IT services. WGroup’s recommendations highlighted opportunities to enhance the satisfaction and productivity of the end user community and to improve data security.
The client had a particular concern regarding data security. WGroup’s analysis showed how utilization of selected cloud solutions could actually improve the management of data security risks. WGroup developed a framework whereby the client could assess vendors’ security practices and capabilities and compare them to those employed by “best-in-class” providers. The client now feels confident in its ability to migrate to the cloud while protecting their critically important data.
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