by Haidee LeClair, Senior Content & Community Manager

Since the onset of COVID-19, businesses have transformed their operating models at a moment’s notice. They’ve also introduced many new (and some unexpected) ways of working for their teams. While many organizations were already looking to cloud computing to enable advanced data-driven operations, the pandemic accelerated that trend, making it a truly transformative year for operating models at organizations of all sizes, worldwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges this year, and the cloud transformation journey at most organizations has been greatly shaped by those challenges. As they look towards 2021, most leaders are looking to build resiliency and increase efficiency in challenging circumstances. In Corinium’s Cloud Transformation Trends 2021, experts from a wide range of organizations discuss how cloud transformation will become an even higher priority for business leaders in 2021. This transformation, in turn, will affect the race for them to master Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Transforming operating models

Who among us hasn’t experienced disruption in our lives due to COVID-19? For most, it’s upended our established ways of working and reshaping the business landscape. As a result, we’ve seen cloud services and infrastructure grow in importance.  Businesses rapidly altered operating models to transform how they deliver goods and services — at the same time, they’ve introduced new ways of working as many working environments have shifted to home offices.

Moving to the cloud was already high on the agenda for many organizations, but the pandemic caused them to change their priorities and update transformation roadmaps. Likewise, many business leaders have changed how they think about current operating models and their next steps.

“Sections of the organization where we had late adopters or where people needed convincing about why we should be using the cloud are now more open, with this crisis.”
Rohit Agrawal, Global Head of Cloud and Data Center at Siemens Healthineers

Many of these late adopters suddenly see the value of the cloud, and now better understand cloud capabilities and how it can help build business resiliency. This resiliency can now help them to enable new infrastructure environments for their workforce, who are now working from different locations, from a variety of networks, and from different devices. Legacy and on-premise environments simply don’t offer this kind of flexibility – or resiliency. That’s why organizations that had previous cloud investments were able to react rapidly when the pandemic began to unfold, sending many workers home.

Cloud transformation efforts pay off

In the United States, the state of Arizona has been working on cloud transformation efforts for more than four years. This work enabled Douglas Lange, Chief Strategy Officer for the Department of Administration in Arizona, to pivot his agency as lockdowns and social distancing became required.

“You took an agency that was close to 100% onsite before the pandemic. And we were above 90% remote within two weeks of the pandemic and conducting business as usual.”
Douglas Lange, Chief Strategy Officer, Department of Administration, State of Arizona

This quick pivot enabled the state of Arizona to protect its staff and still operate at full capacity throughout the ongoing crisis.

While many businesses remain in recovery mode, IT and cloud-delivered services helped many businesses remain functional during the pandemic. As we move forward, businesses are likely to be more willing to allocate resources to cloud transformation initiatives. The role cloud-based infrastructure and services played this year shows the advantages of operating in the cloud clearly.

Bridging the cloud skills gap

Technology moves quickly, and the skills to support evolving infrastructure and environments must keep up. There are certainly some skills and infrastructure that is no longer needed as businesses adopt more cloud services and environments, but employees may need new skills to maximize their cloud investments. Increasingly, enterprises see cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as the “new normal” for their data centers, especially in 2020. There are clear and significant benefits to moving data infrastructure into the cloud, particularly the ability to scale rapidly based on demand and reduce capital expenditure for on-premises data centers.

Many organizations, unfortunately, have struggled to find employees with the necessary skills to manage IaaS effectively, which may delay their cloud migration roadmap. Global research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that half of enterprise IT organizations will have their cloud migration plans delayed by two years or more through 2022 due to a shortage of IaaS skills. It’s important for organizations to keep in mind that, while they can move a data center to the cloud, that’s only part of the process – they may also need to retrain their workforce. That’s not to say that they should not invest in training their workforce in these skills. Lack of training, indeed, can lead to significant issues, such as cost overruns and bad configurations, caused by people attempting to learn on the job.

“We are immediately transitioning into a world where understanding hardware is far less important than understanding software.”
James Binford VP, Cloud Security Solutions, US Bancorp 

Rather than developing expertise in a single technology, organizations must train employees with an overview of many different skill sets. Many employees may, for example, have previously focused on hardware, and now need to upskill in software areas instead. While many employees, particularly in the public sector, may have been using older applications – sometimes 15 years old or even older. With these older applications, organizations are likely sacrificing features and functionality, so shifting to modern architectures and training employees in the technical skills they need to support it will result in many gains. Faster, more functional solutions, running on the cloud, will help organizations embrace a transformation that has been inevitable in 2020, and will continue into 2021 and beyond.

Read the full Corinium report today: How the Pandemic is Accelerating Cloud Computing Initiatives for Enterprise Businesses