Board and Microsoft cloud innovation

Intelligent Planning

- 4 min read

Have the promises of the Cloud met CFO expectations?

The cloud has made many promises to CFOs. From improved efficiency, scalability, and reliability to reduced costs, enhanced security, and almost immediate availability of new technology, the cloud has become one of the centerpieces of almost every organization’s table. Adoption has been great, with one cloud adoption survey finding that cloud usage is growing steadily, with over “90% of respondents indicating that their organizations use cloud computing.

But has the cloud met all these promises? Many organizations are in the midst of their journey to the cloud, and the cloud forms the basis of most digital transformation strategies. However, along this journey, the path has not always been smooth and without danger. In fact, it has resulted in many new challenges for the CFO and their organizations, including:

  • A slower-than-expected elimination of on-premises systems leads to the need to run legacy systems alongside modern cloud technologies. Costs remain, and architectural complexity increases.
  • Vast amounts of choice. The hyperscalers offer many technology services, from storage and infrastructure to application development environments and AI. Selecting the right service can be complex, with costly mistakes.
  • Easy adoption of SaaS environments. Both a benefit and a challenge, the ease with which organizations can adopt (and decommission) new software applications and platforms can make integration, security, and data management challenging.
  • Increased importance on several additional topics, including data privacy, governance, data sovereignty, regulatory requirements, and even copyright considerations with, for example, emerging generative AI capabilities.
  • High demand for specialized talent leads to talent shortages and the need for continuous training.
  • Sustainability and climate considerations. Computing environments require resources such as power and water, with the growing use of AI placing additional demands on the environment. Considering these elements is important for organizations targeting ESG initiatives and metrics.

The effect of these challenges has been larger than expected. Initial cloud migration projects often experience cost overruns, and in some cases, the end result is more costly than the original on-premises deployment. Calculating the overall investment return of the cloud can be challenging, and rapidly evolving technology services make it difficult to ‘put a stake in the ground’ as the variables and inputs into such calculations are constantly shifting. So, the move to the cloud has not been easy for some organizations. Simply put, is it worth it?

In short, after working with hundreds of customers here at Board and experiencing their journeys to the cloud, the answer is a resounding yes. This is probably an obvious answer, as the momentum behind this shift has not slowed, nor are organizations switching back to on-premises deployments in droves. Some shifts from public to private/on-premises cloud infrastructure have occurred, but the benefits of the cloud have outweighed the disadvantages.

Moreover, as with many technology changes of this magnitude, the benefits are usually not seen immediately. It may be some time before the advantages of the cloud are experienced and even longer before all promises are met. Regardless, the cloud has become a critical foundational element for organizations looking to meet today’s complex business challenges and maintain a strong competitive position in the market. With that in mind, there is an opportunity to do more. Just like shifting from Excel to another vendor’s interpretation of Excel is not enough, neither is a focus on operational efficiency and cost reduction in cloud projects.

Instead, a more intelligent approach is needed, one that evolves past cost and instead looks to leverage the cloud as a mechanism for providing new products and services and facilitating rapid innovation. A truly intelligent approach, whether related to planning or the cloud, is platform-centric, allows for configuration vs. customization, combines complementary capabilities into one experience, and scales as your needs grow. It allows organizations to leverage new technologies, such as generative AI seamlessly, and to do so in a way that provides value (not just hype) to the business. Finally, it does all of this with a strong team that understands the value of this shift and the need to innovate.

So, yes, organizations are leveraging the cloud and realizing many of its promises. And with a focus on innovation, new products, and new services, the return can be as expected. But this shift introduces many more questions that need to be answered. What does it truly mean to be a platform for innovation? And after collecting large volumes of data and building complex data architectures, why do organizations still experience a shortfall of information? A couple of subjects for future blogs. 😊

Primo Amrein, Cloud Lead at Microsoft Switzerland, notes:

Public cloud is widely used nowadays. For instance, over 20,000 Swiss organizations already use Microsoft hyperscale data centers in Switzerland. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, customers choose to do so for benefits such as better end-customer value, more agile organizations, future-oriented and modern digital tools for employees, as a driver of innovation, or more efficient collaboration within the organization and with partners. To benefit from best practices and proven use cases, working with experienced Microsoft ISV partners such as Board International makes sense.

Board International won the ISV Award of the Microsoft Swiss Partner of the Year Awards 2023.

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