4 common mistakes
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4 common mistakes: When enterprises go cloud (and where they go wrong)

Drew Firment
Drew Firment

The selling points of cloud for enterprises are huge, but the cloud isn’t a magical money-printing machine. (Though, if your business were trying to manufacture money-printing machines, you’d be foolish not to use the cloud.) Cloud success requires thoughtful execution and strategy. This may seem obvious, but what can you do to ensure you’re among the ones who soar while others fall flat?

Here are four common missteps that keep larger companies from reaching their full potential with cloud.

1. Being a great whale, not a great white

As Malcolm Gladwell puts it: The qualities that “make a company so formidable – its size, its resources – serve as stumbling blocks when they’re forced to respond to a situation where the rules are changing…” An enterprise’s size can make it seem invulnerable, but that size can also trip it up when the competitors are more nimble and adaptable. As Laurence Haughton says, “It’s not the big that eat the small … it’s the fast that eat the slow.”

The speed of change is the hardest part of the cloud transformation for most larger businesses. But it’s also the most important to embrace.

2. Investing in tools, not people

During my 20-year career at Capital One, speed at scale was the M.O. of the lean enterprise. With an agile mindset and a DevOps culture, cloud transformed Capital One into what is now essentially an enterprise-scale FinTech startup. While tech played a leading role, the hardest part of that transition was a talent transformation.

This means bringing the necessary people up to speed on the latest in cloud. And getting your nontechnical teams speaking the same language, so they can understand how the portions of the business they touch – finance, sales, or marketing – play into the bigger cloud picture.

3. Getting sucked down the short-term sinkhole

Cloud has posed a disruptive threat for years, but a short-term incentive structures often hamstring big companies, holding them back from the massive long-term transformation possible with public cloud. Some enterprises are anchored by the weight of internal processes and platforms . Others are paralyzed by fear, uncertainty, and doubt (often generated by legacy vendors in survival mode). With that baggage and those naysayers, it can be hard not to be shortsighted.

But there’s no cloud shortcut for enterprises  (though going all-in with a public cloud provider is one giant step in the right direction). It’s all about focusing on the long-term and planning for the future beyond this month, this quarter, and this year.

4. Treating cloud as an add-on

We have to move away from the old ways to do new things. The solution isn’t the way we did things before + the cloud. But enterprise cloud adoption can feel like changing the tires while driving. Where do you begin?

As a first step, cloud leaders can start by identifying what they want to do and why it’s of value to the organization. But whether you’re on your first step or well on the way to cloud success, all it takes is one cloud-skeptical leader to derail things. Pressure to stick with the status quo is why many enterprises struggle to gain momentum in the cloud  –  at least at the speed required to avoid being devoured by the fast and hungry.

There needs to be buy-in to escape the day-to-day routines and break old processes. This requires treating cloud not as supplemental but foundational. And for that, a Cloud Center of Excellence is essential. This cross-functional team leads the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operation.


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