“The first element of a big type of transformation is not technical. It’s all about leadership. If you don’t have senior management alignment, you won’t make that change.”
– Andy Jassy CEO of AWS
AWS re:Invent 2019 Keynote
99% of IT leaders plan to invest in cloud in 2020. However, a significant roadblock to success isn’t tools or platforms — it’s executive leadership.
According to a new survey by Logicworks and Wakefield Research, more than 4 in 5 (84%) of respondents wish their company’s leadership better understood what IT does, and 82% think their company’s leadership doesn’t completely grasp how the cloud works.
The gap between IT and executive leadership could have a major impact on cloud growth in 2020.
Lack of C-Suite Goals for Cloud
Companies often migrate one to two workloads and then their cloud projects stall.
The team at Logicworks recently worked with a company experiencing stalled migration projects. They were unable to determine the disconnect, so the Logicworks team met with the company’s CTO to learn more.
They discovered mid-level IT managers were telling the CTO that they were “doing big things in the cloud”. We looked at their accounts, and came to find they were only running three AWS EC2 instances.
Armed with this information, the CTO went back to his mid-level managers and asked why they claimed to be doing “big things” if there were only three instances running.
This got everyone on the same page quickly. The CTO became more involved in the details of migration, and together they came up with a plan for success. They went from running three instances to several hundred in under a year.
The anecdote above shows what happens when the C-Suite doesn’t fully understand the cloud, and there is a lack of top-down goals for the cloud. A goal should be easy to understand with a defined timeline, such as, “Migrate 30% of back-office workloads to AWS by 2021.” If there’s no comprehensive top-down goal, chances are the IT team will take the path of least resistance.
C-Suite Underestimates Time and Cost of Cloud
As you establish top-down goals, it’s critical for engineers and mid-level IT managers to educate the C-Suite about what it really takes to migrate and maintain cloud resources.
Chances are, executives have heard repeated marketing messages that the cloud is “easy” and “cheap”. Since they may not be familiar with cloud practices, they’re easily duped into believing these oversimplifications.
According to the Challenges of Cloud Transformation survey, 76% of IT leaders say executives underestimate the time and cost of cloud management. This contributes to frustration between engineers and executives about misaligned goals, and can often lead to stalled projects because IT teams aren’t given adequate funding and training for cloud management.
Bottom line, it’s the duty of executives and IT leaders to become more educated about true costs and efforts of the cloud. Then realistic goals can be set that take these factors into account.
Companies Need Better Strategy, Not More Tools
While IT leaders recognize that most cloud roadblocks are non-technical, a majority (61%) still prioritize technical solutions like investing in better cloud tools over getting more executive buy-in (39%).
This reveals a common problem in IT teams: when something’s not working, we look for a tool to fix it. Teams can get so wrapped up in trying to identify and implement the newest tools that they fail to tackle bigger issues, like the lack of leadership alignment. Tools are prioritized over strategy.
Make 2020 the year to discuss what’s working, what’s not working, and make reasonable goals for the cloud. Meanwhile, don’t get lost in the swamps of tool selection and forget what really matters: shipping products. Pick one set of cloud-native tools and stick to it.
Logicworks has helped hundreds of companies accelerate cloud migration projects. Talk to an expert about our Migration Readiness Assessment and other migration solutions.