This is the second installment of three, looking back at 2020 hopes for digital transformation. Before the epidemic smashed into the world economy, there were rosy forecasts about the coming digital transformation. The details of what this meant varied by market, industry, and nation, but the sentiment was strong: get on board or be left behind.
Three Kinds of Digital Transformation
How has that urgent advice played out? It varies. In this series, we’ll examine three kinds of digital transformation that created “two cities” with some organizations living in digitally-driven success. However, others live in towns where digital technology has failed or even been abandoned.
Therefore, the three digital divides are digital enterprise, cloud migration, and big data adoption.
Migration to the Cloud
The second of these, migration to the cloud, is complex and easy to misunderstand. What feels successful may be fatally flawed.
Most organizations think they have made a successful migration. By now, they can host web meetings, they are sharing work product remotely, and it feels like dramatic progress has been made.
But many of these migrations are unstable and even doomed. Let’s explore some differences between real success in cloud migration compared with doomed migrations, where there’s only a superficial appearance of success.
The first topic is the blue-collar/white-collar divide
Successful migrations involve all organization functions that need collaboration, processing, and data storage off-premises. Being able to run Teams or Zoom may help some of your white-collar people, but it may leave your blue-collar workers behind. Your factory floor, maintenance facility, loading dock, and drivers have been impacted by Covid as much or more than office workers. Our survey work shows that challenges from the epidemic are most strongly felt at lower income levels. Not surprising fears are higher with lower incomes, too. This means the executives who believe they have weathered a successful transition don’t know how bad things are for the folks doing “real work.”
Employee devices/Corporate device security divide
Increasing the number of people who work from home (or Starbucks) has increased the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. The problem is that BYOD and using networks outside the enterprise creates security risks. The dispersed employee population has a large “attack surface” with many vulnerable attack points unless your cyber hygiene is excellent.
The rush to deploy stopgap measures that support BYOD has added additional risks. Zoom’s well-known vulnerabilities are one example, but many other free or inexpensive applications have been pressed into service without careful cyber risks assessments.
In addition to cyber concerns, the need to work off the corporate desktop and outside the physical office is perhaps the largest driver to the cloud and can be the most considerable divide. Standard office applications migrate to the cloud easily. Your spreadsheets, presentations, and email are the easy part of the migration. It is much harder to migrate critical operations processes. These may rely on decades-old desktop or server-based hardware. The user interfaces never contemplated browser access.
Many Lone Star solutions were created with our TruNavigator® platform. It creates powerful, no-code applications for desktop and server-based solutions. In fact, we began investing before the epidemic on platform extensions to support cloud operations, making TruNavigator agnostic to host architecture.
That investment paid off. Customers needed our powerful predictive analytics to cope with Covid induced challenges, but they saw the benefits of a web/cloud version. As a result, we converted or are currently converting several applications.
Looming cloud costs vs. educated cloud economics
Even if your transition to the web has been functionally successful, it may not be economically successful.
The cost structure of different cloud providers varies, but it usually includes costs for things that were essentially free pre-migration. You don’t have unlimited data quires, most likely. Many cloud migrations were rushed to deal with stay-at-home orders. That means many of them were never optimized against the billing structure of your cloud provider.
These cloud economic issues vary widely with the provider. Microsoft Azure and AWS are quite different for some applications. Unless a careful study has been done and updated as billing policy changes, you are probably paying too much.
What to do in 2021
All four of these divides can be hidden by the feeling “everything is working.” But it’s only working until about now. There is a saying in aircraft accident investigations, “there was adequate fuel to arrive at the scene of the crash.” Is your organization living in a place with the right amount of cloud migration, or in a place with only the approaches of success and looming failure?
As we enter 2021, what should you do about cloud migration? Indeed, most companies can benefit from a careful look at all four of these divides.
If you feel you have made a successful transition to the cloud:
- Is that benefiting productivity and improvements of all workers, or just the front office? Only white-collar?
- Is remote work, enabled by cloud applications opening your organization to access point attacks?
- Are your cloud solutions benefiting sales and administration, but not operations?
- Are you sure you understand the economics of cloud computing for your applications?