By Sven Denecken, Vice President, Cloud Solutions, SAP - @SDenecken
As more and more organizations across industries embrace the cloud, they want to know what the future holds for cloud computing and their business. R “Ray” Wang has thought more about the cloud than just about anyone.
As founder and chairman of Constellation Research Inc., Wang speaks and writes frequently about disruptive technologies and business innovation. His popular blog, A Software Insider’s Point of View, attracts millions of page views a year, and Global 2000 companies seek his advice on technology and business strategy.
I recently caught up with Wang by phone while he was on the road in Tokyo to get his insights on the cloud in 2020. Following are excerpts from our conversation.
Q: What mindsets or skill sets will organizations need to adapt to the cloud? And where does IT fit into these changes?
RW: Today IT is about nuts and bolts, it’s about networks, it’s about infrastructure, it’s about getting those platforms to work and to scale. More and more, organizations will have to move to IT folks who are aligned to business strategy, who understand how these technologies or applications or infrastructure lead to business outcomes.
That’s why I say we’re still at the beginning of the age of digital transformation and the age of digital business. Technology will play a role in transforming business models, and IT will play a role in driving business outcomes.
To dig a little deeper, think about the four personas of the CIO. If you’re the chief infrastructure officer, your role is going to be automated. If you’re still working on tasks around infrastructure and automation, you’re not being very strategic.
If you’re the chief integration officer, where you’re only connecting internal systems, your role is going to change. Because now we’re connecting employees, partners, customers, and all these external systems and external data sources.
If you’re the chief intelligence officer, you’re surfacing insights from all these data sets, from analytics, so that people can take the best action.
But more important, IT will play a bigger role as chief innovation officer. You’re going to be thinking about transformation, about new business models, about where technology plays a role in business disruption.
Q: Organizations often merely try to replicate their analog processes in the digital world. Will that work going forward?
RW: Organizations are looking at transformation in general, and the cloud is helping them access innovation quicker, the cloud is helping them drive down capital cost, the cloud is helping them change the way their business works.
The next level is when we add sensors and when we can sense and respond to information. So a manufacturer can take an old piece of equipment and get a sensor reading out of it to improve operations. Building those sensors, building the ability to respond to that data—that’s where the beginning of this is going to happen. It’s going take some time. Sensor costs have to drop, the way we aggregate data will have to improve, and the speed with which we can do that will have to improve.
So we’re at the beginning of this piece of it. But the cloud is where that data is going to reside. The cloud is where that process is going to occur. The cloud is the focal point of that network.
Q: What steps should organizations be taking today if they want to be leveraging the cloud effectively in 2020?
The first thing we should be thinking about is where these new technologies can influence business models or operating practices.
Organizations need to look seriously at what the impact of cloud will be on their business and how they consume information. They need to look at mobility and understand how it changes the way people interact. It’s not about devices, but about interactions and engagement. They need to look at Big Data and understand where this information can surface up the right insights so people can take the right actions. And finally, they need to look at what’s happening around social. They need to think about how that changes the way we work with each other and share and collaborate.
Those are the pillars of digital transformation in terms of technology. But organizations also have to think about the skillsets they need. We’re not talking about getting more data scientists. We’re talking about creating a digital culture that has a digital DNA. That means helping people understand the difference between right-brain and left-brain functions. It means understanding where design and creativity come into play, and how we can use our products and services to create new experiences and new outcomes for our customers.
The entire agenda of the Cloud in 2020 Forum can be found here. We are looking forward to welcome you onsite in Orlando on June 4th.
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